University of Oxford
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Harold Daniels in the Fleet Air Arm

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posted on 2024-06-05, 20:10 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

Harold joined the Royal Navy on 06/02/1940, aged 15. He gained an apprenticeship with the Royal Navy but trained with the RAF prior to going into the Fleet Air Arm. He worked in electrical and ordnance duties on the aircraft.

He was sent to RAF Halton for training. He was sent to New York on the Queen Elizabeth on 19/11/1943; it was his birthday on the day he arrived. From New York, he went to an air force base near Boston to form up 853 Avenger Squadron, a torpedo/bomber/fighter unit that, Harold says, was 'way ahead of its time'. The squadron was formed from November 1943 to February 1944.

From Boston, he was sent to Vancouver, Canada. On the journey, you had to amuse yourself across the USA. Harold and a Yorkshire friend gambled all the way across.

At Vancouver, he joined the HMS Arbiter and sailed down from Vancouver to the Panama Canal. There was an accident at sea. On the boat, a plane crashed off the deck on a training flight, and the pilot was killed. He escorted a convoy back to England after the Panama Canal. He was then at the Orkneys with his ship until 13/09/1944.

Then, the squadron picked up HMS Tracker. This was a convoy bound for the USSR. The boat went to Murmansk, where it was very cold. There were very rough weather conditions on the way. There was lots of US Lend-Lease equipment there, including American Jeeps. His experience with Soviet troops and people was positive. He got back to the Orkneys and was there from 05/12/1944 to 25/01/1945. He then joined HMS Queen.

Harold served with the Fleet Air Arm and left on 19/11/1964. After the war, Harold served with the Royal Australian Navy and visited Japan (Hiroshima) and all over Australia. The Australians were starting a Fleet Air Arm, and Harold was sent to help them set it up. There were differences between the Australian and British Navy; for instance, Australians did not address people by their surnames.


Item list and details

1. Harold Daniels' photos. 2. Service record. 3. Crossing the Equator certificate. 4. Medals. List of Medals: - 1939-45 Star - Atlantic Star - France and Germany Star - Arctic Star - Defence Medal - War Medal - UN Medal (Korea) - Long Service Medal - Russia's Ushakov Medal (Artillery)

Person who shared the story/items

Harold Daniels

Type of submission

Shared at National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth, Hampshire on 16 September 2023.

Record ID

100831 | RNM002