Back To 1931-40







1. Name
Francis Dayne Gadfrey BIRD
2. Date Commissioned
1 January 1932
3. Date retired
December 1961
4. Rank
5. Awarded wings
6. Flying schools
No. 1 F.T.S. R.A.F Leuchars. No.4 Course
7. Aircraft types flown
Nimrod, Osprey, Gladiator, Skua, Roc, Spitfire, Wildcat and other fighter types.
8. Squadrons
801 Sqdn. January - May 1937
800 Sqdn. May 1937 - Febuary 1940 Adjutant and Flight Commander
759 Sqdn. Febuary 1940 - November 1941
888 Sqdn. November 1941 - December 1943
9. Aircraft Carriers
October 19 40 - November 1941 CO 759 Sqdn
November 1941 - December 1943 CO 888 Sqdn
December 1943 - June 1944 C.F.I. Fighter School
June 1944 - September 1945 Commanding Officer RNAS Lee-on-Solent
10. Senior Appointments
H.M.S. Furious 1937
H.M.S. Courageous 1937/39
H.M.S. Ark Royal 1938/40
H.M.S. Formidable February 1942 - December 1943
1939-1945 War medals
North Africa
Mention in despatches January 1946
12. General
Having qualified as a pilot in 1936, he had already spent 2 ½ years in front line fighter squadrons at the outbreak of war. After five months in 801 Sqdn. in H.M.S. Furious in 1937 he then flew in 800 Fleet Fighter Sqdn. in HMS Courageous and later H.M.S. Ark Royal from May 1937 to February 1940. From 3 September 1939 his Squadron was employed carrying out A/S patrols in Force K in the Atlantic and hunting for blockade runners off the coast of Spain. On 23 December 1939 he made a small bit of Corps history on a reconnaissance mission when his observer was Capt. K. L. Ford, one af the only two RM Officers to qualify as an Observer. Capt. Ford was killed an 19th December 1941 in an air crash.

From February 1942 to December 1943 he was embarked in H.M.S. Formidable with 888 Sqdn. (Grumman Wildcats) which he commanded from November 1941 to December 1943. During this time the Squadron was employed in Operation Torch - the invasion of North Africa and engaged Italian and German bombers off Algiers. Later they were disembarked ashore to provide fighter cover af the Oran area. In July 1943 the Squadron took part in Operation Husky - the invasian of Sicily, giving cover to the Fleet. They then took part in Operation Avalanche - the landings at Salerno in September 1943 covering the assault aircraft carriers. In July 1942, Formidable was also deplayed in the Indian Ocean for cover against Japanese shadowers.

From December 1943 for the next 18 months he was at RN Air Station, Yeovilton as Chief Flying Instructor at the Fleet Air Arm Fighter School.

Following this he made history by being appointed to HMS Daedulus from June 1944 to September 1945 as Commanding Officer of RN Air Station, Lee-on-Solent, a unique appointment for a Royal Marines Officer. Then followed an appointment until March 1948 as Commander Training on the staff of Flag Officer Flying Training at HMS Merlin - RNAS Donibristle.

Francis Bird then took the RN Staff Course and returned to Corps Duty and served in various senior Staff Appointments.

As Chief Staff Officer to M.G.R.M. Portsmouth, Major General Moulton, himself a pilot, Francis Bird with Major "Skeets" Harris formed the team with whichh General Moulton launched the idea of the Commando Carrier and the subsequent evolution of the Brigade Air Squadron.

13. R.A.F Rank
Flying Officer January 1936
Flight Lieutenant 1938