HMS Illustrious at Malta 1941 by Maltese artist Edwin Galea.
Arthur Stephen Griffith was
born in the second quarter of 1920, the son of William Arthur Griffith,
a shipwright, and his wife Florence Susan (née Cooks), of Iver Heath,
He was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 16 January 1939 and qualified as aircrew on No. 4 Air Course at No. 20 Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School, Gravesend,
which began on 1 May 1939. On 22 April 1940, 12 Blackburn B-24 Skuas of 803 Naval Air Squadron departed RNAS Hatston in the Orkney Islands to join HMS Glorious for the Norway campaign.
As he landed, Griffith crashed and the aircraft went over the side. He was rescued but Telegraphist Air Gunner, Naval Airman 1st Class Kenneth Admiral Brown did not escape the aircraft.
For an account of the actions of 803 Naval Air Squadron and more about Griffith’s contribution to the operations in Norway see: Smith, P C. (2006). SKUA!: The Royal Navy’s Dive-Bomber. Philadelphia: Casemate.
On 27th April the surviving
four Skuas of 803 Squadron joined HMS Ark Royal. Griffith was promoted
to Acting Sub-Lieutenant (A) on 2nd June 1940.
For his gallantry in April and May 1940 he was mentioned in despatches on 25th June 1940 for ‘daring and resource in the conduct of hazardous and successful operations
by the Fleet Air Arm on the Coast of Norway. Issue 34882, page 3919.
Having converted to the Fairey
Fulmar, he flew one of three Fulmars off HMS Ark Royal on 9 November 1940
to join 806 Naval Air Squadron in HMS Illustrious.
Flying Fulmar L1881 from Hal Far in Malta, Acting Sub-Lieutenant Griffith was killed in action on 18 January 1941, aged 20; he is commemorated on the Fleet Air Arm Memorial,
Lee-on-Solent, on Bay 1, Panel 7. His wartime tally was two aircraft destroyed—a Ju88 (Norway) and a Ju87 (Malta)—and three damaged (all in Norway).
See Shores, C. (2004). Those Other Eagles. p 235. London: Grub Street.
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