This years ‘Operation Fuller’ Service, better known as the ‘Channel Dash’ was held as usual on 12th February at 1400hrs at their magnificent memorial on the sea front in Dover.
This Service of Remembrance commemorates this day in 1942 when an heroic attempt by a Tri-Service operation, but especially the eighteen young men of 825 Squadron Fleet Air Arm who flew six Fairey Swordfish aircraft, known as ‘Stringbags’, from RAF Manston in Kent to intercept a German Battle Fleet, which included the Battleships ‘Scharnhorst’, ‘Gneisenau’ and ‘Prinz Eugen’ as they proceeded up the Channel in a ‘Dash’ to reach their home ports in Germany. This action to stop and sink these ships was unsuccessful, and all the ‘Swordfish’ were shot down in their attempt to use their Torpedoes to destroy the Battleships, and only five of the aircrew were rescued from the channel waters.
Their leader that day, Lieutenant Commander Eugene Esmonde received a Posthumous VC, other Gallantry awards were given to those who survived and a Mention in Despatches (MID) was given to those who were killed.
The Branch was represented at this important service by ‘Dusty’ Miller who paraded our Standard, alongside seven other Veteran Association Standards, and also representing the Branch were Jimmy Green and Bob Davies. The service was conducted by the Reverend John Lines MBE Chaplin to the Downs Branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL).
We were privileged once again this year to have at the service, Valerie Sayer and Carole Lee, widows now of two of the pilots who were rescued from the sea.
On completion of the event a buffet reception was held in the Royal Cinque Ports Yacht Club (RCPYC) and we thank them for their hospitality.