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Royal Navy post-World War 2

Lieutenant Commander JAMES HENRY SUMMERLEE, MID, RN (Rtd)
Part 1 of 2

Made available by Mrs Val Summerlee

Jim Summerlee (click photographs to enlarge)

on to Part 2 of 2
or return to post-war, 1945 on




Val Summerlee is my father's sister, herself an ex-Wren, and it gives me great pleasure to add her husband's naval career and photographs to the site.

Quite coincidentally, in working on post-war casualty lists, I was horrified to realise how many Fleet Air Arm crew were killed in the decades following the end of World War 2. I was not joking when I  suggested to Jim that we were lucky he was still around. It is therefore with his agreement that these pages are:



The men and now women who have flown with the Fleet Air Arm since 1945

Those who waited  - wives and girlfriends, mothers and partners, who no doubt often wondered if they would see them again

And those who did not return


I have added Jim's comment directly from his albums

Gordon Smith




Lieutenant Commander Jim Summerlee passed away peacefully on 28 May 2012.





Born July 2nd 1925,  in Huntingdon, Hunts.

Joined the Royal Navy at HMS St. Vincent, Gosport, near Portsmouth, as a Naval Airman 2nd class, in 1943. Did flying training in Canada at St. Eugene then Kingston, both in Ontario, where he qualified for his 'wings' the day he was 19 .



1 9 4 5 ? 1 9 4 6


Returned to Britain on the liner Louis Pasteur, landing at Liverpool on New Years Eve, 1944/45, then on to HMS Macaw at RNAS Carlisle. Commissioned as a Sub-Lieutenant, back-dated to the day he received his wings. Training continued in 1945 with postings to:

RAF Errol, Perthshire for advanced flying

HMS Godwit, RNAS Hinstock & Peplow, Shropshire, for instrument training on Oxfords (March)

RN College Greenwich for a short course

HMS Humming Bird, RNAS Zeals, Somerset for conversion to Corsairs (May)

HMS Heron, RNAS Yeovilton, No.1. Fighter School for Corsair flying training

HMS Vulture, RNAS St. Merryn, Cornwall for air gunnery target practice (July)

Returned to Yeovilton

HMS Corncrake, RNAS Ballyhalbert, Northern Ireland for decklanding on escort carrier HMS Premier (converted cargo ship) in Belfast Lough (14 September)

HMS Dipper, RNAS Henstridge, Somerset for advanced course on Corsair low level flying.

With the war now over, granted indefinite leave from 21 Sep 1945 to 10 May 1946 while the Navy decided what to do with him and his fellow pilots.

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S E R V I C E   F L Y I N G

In May 1946 posted to HMS Nuthatch, RNAS Anthorn near Carlisle, Cumberland, as a Ferry Pilot, ferrying various types of aircraft around Britain. In 1946, after a temporary posting to HMS Siskin, RNAS Gosport to learn to fly Hoverfly R4B's one of the first helicopters, back to Anthorne and then on to HMS Peregrine, RNAS Ford, Sussex on 27 Aug 1947 for a twin engine course. Following this, transferred to HMS Goldcrest, RNAS Dale, West Wales on 24 Nov 1947 flying Mosquitoes of 790 Squadron. On 13 Dec 1947, the Squadron moved to HMS Seahawk, RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall.

During this time, it is noted that he flew in a Mosquito with a Wren V.B. Smith on the 21 Sep & 16 Dec 1948 and the 6 May 1949.  (They married on 8 Aug 1949!)

Dale 1947 - 790 Squadron
Pembrokeshire, south west Wales

Mainly Mosquitoes


Standing by for Kete programme

Gun Observer Harry Cole - by the sea at Dale

Wee George Sells & Drunken Duncan, talking of beer no doubt (3 before breakfast)
Refuelling at Dispersal

Harry Hunt - S.P. (Senior Pilot)

Line shooting - Kerry Toms
Wee Robbie

Bill Croft & Harry Hunt

Jim Maddocks & T C Evans foreground (killed Feb '49)
Big Jim Maddocks - Mavis on the left
Supermarine Seafires?

So smooth

Baffles them all - Kerry, Bill Howley & Jim

So that's it eh?
Beech's best smile. What a set!

Tommy tells how!
Harry makes the grade

Harry hauls in the "injured" Maisey

Flat out on both. Harry making the crossing in evens

Robbie & Harry Hunt
Wreford airborne

Seafire - Ginger Wade, AME Glyde lines up the tail wheel

Val & Jim ready to go
"We three" - Viv, Harry, Buck
790 Sqdn  -  1947 - 48

Lofty makes 4 Spades - Joe Hunt (barely visible), Lofty Rouse, P.O. Barker, Ken Wharmby & Maisey
Rogues Gallery - Tubby Read, Wreford, Buck & Jim

"Bill Howley Eric Manuel (R) Hill (J) Glyde
Taff Stone    Jim
Toms Willis -  -  -  (J) Crane"

Allan Burness - Ketch
4 No Trumps perhaps? - Joe, Thornton, Lofty, Paddy resting

(just a couple of photographs)

P.C. Robbie (pickled) - Polly Parrott & his wife!

Outside the Angel - 1430 - All kali
left to right - Stan Waters, Feet Berry, Robbie-Mary, Bert Knight, Mike Bateman


VAL and JIM around this time



in uniform

Pip & "my passenger Valerie"

by now 790 Sqdn had transferred to Culdrose

790 Squadron and Mosquito, Culdrose 1947
(Names added to enlargement)


Preparing at Lee-on-Solent for Carrier Service with  813 Sqdn, flying Blackburn Firebrands


The Range - 813 Squadron

"Dapper" Berril


Water landing wheels down - aftermath
(seaplane - type not known)

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C A R R I E R   F L Y I N G

On 11 Jul 1949 posted to fleet carrier HMS Implacable flying Firebrands V's with 813 Squadron. Off Norway with the Home Fleet in September 1949, and later, after Christmas leave, she sailed to the Mediterranean. After further leave, posted to 767 Squadron at RNAS?s Henstridge and Yeovilton, Somerset where he did nothing but take-off and land on a dummy flight-deck at Henstridge while  'batsmen' learnt their trade. Known as 'clockwork mice', once the course was completed, they had to do the same thing for real - on any aircraft carrier that was available.

HMS Implacable - 813 Squadron
Home Fleet

Our ship - HMS Implacable

Lt Arthur Smith, "BATS" - Gaylord Arthur

S.P. (Senior Pilot) Johnny Barnes

OFF TO INVER "G" - Invergordon

Firebrand landing on




Passing mail and bread
 (HMS St Kitts, Battle-class destroyer)

Home Fleet cruisers at Inver "G"



Dog (or D for Duty) Destroyer coming into position


Sea Hornet




Massed bands - a hundred pipers an a' and a'

Our Royals demonstrate "The Beating of the Retreat"




ON THE WAY HOME - November 1949



Off S Ireland in a gale

After the storm


Mount Bay, Cornwall, 1949

 on to Part 2 of 2
or return to post-war, 1945 on

revised 10/7/11