The exceptional Second World War Deck Carrier Wildcat & Hellcat Pilot’s 1942 Operation Pedestal and Operation Torch, 1943 Pacific Operation Cartwheel and 1945 Operation Iceberg

London Medal Company The exceptional Second World .

The exceptional Second World War Deck Carrier Fighter Pilot’s Mediterranean 1942 Operation Pedestal and Operation Torch, 1943 Pacific Operation Cartwheel and 1945 Operation Iceberg Distinguished Service Cross and 1958 Jet Pilot Instructor’s Air Force Cross and QCVSA group awarded to Wing Commander P.D.C. Street, Royal Air Force later Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm, one of the very first carrier pilot’s to achieve 1000 deck landings in 1944, he claimed kills against German, Italian and Japanese aircraft in Wildcat and Hellcat aircraft, and was decorated for the airstrikes on the Sakishima Islands on 26th March 1945 during the Battle of Okinawa.  

Group of 7: Distinguished Service Cross, GVI 1st type cypher, reverse dated: ‘1945’; Air Force Cross, EIIR Cypher, reverse dated 1958; 1939-1945 Star; Atlantic Star; Africa Star with North Africa 1942-43 Clasp; Pacific Star; War Medal. Mounted swing style as worn.

Condition: Good Very Fine.

Admiralty Honours and Awards Letter notifying Street of the award of the Distinguished Service Cross ‘for gallantry, skill and marked devotion to duty in the air strikes in the Far East’, dated 31st July 1945.

Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air Certificate, this issued to: ‘Squadron Leader Patrick Dennis Collins Street, D.S.C., Royal Air Force, dated 13th June 1957.

Royal Air Force Pilot’s Flying Log Book, three log books bound together as one, covering the period from June 1941 through to April 1962.

Royal Air Force Certification Card for recipient having met the requirements for Instrument Pilot Rating (Green) at Thornhill on 26th October 1951 – this for qualification to fly the Meteor Jet Fighter, together with another two, one issued at Odiham on 1st May 1961, and the other issued at West Raynham on 20th September 1961, qualifying him to fly the Hunter, Meteor, Javelin and Canberra jets.

Photograph of recipient as a rating just after qualifying for his pilots wings in December 1941.

A photograph of recipient as a Petty Officer Pilot with 700 Squadron at Yeovilton in February 1942.

Five photographs of an air attack on a Malta Convoy in August 1942, showing the convoy putting up a defence and H.M.S Indomitable being bombed and badly damaged.

Five photographs of Winston Churchill’s visit to the aircraft carrier H.M.S Victorious at Scapa Flow in October 1942.

A group photograph of 882 Squadron Pilot’s aboard Victorious in December 1942; another of the entire squadron aircraft aboard Victorious from the same time, and a portrait photograph of the recipient as a recently appointed Sub Lieutenant.

Two relaxed photographs of recipient and fellow pilots relaxing with some girls in New York in January 1943, the girls being identified by name, they were possibly celebrities.

A photograph of recipient and others out at Honolulu in April 1943.

Photograph of an 882 Squadron formation flight over Pearl Harbour in April 1943.

A photograph of recipient and one other aboard an aircraft carrier in the Pacific in September 1943.

Photograph of recipient back at home in April 1944.

A wartime photograph of recipient wearing his ‘Mae West’ this taken after his 1000th deck landing in October 1944 when serving aboard H.M.S Argus with 768 Squadron.

Photograph of recipient and others taken whilst relaxing on the wing of an aircraft aboard a carrier during a lull in operations, circa 1944 to 1945.

Photograph of the aircraft carrier H.M.S Indomitable arriving back at Portsmouth in December 1945.

Press photograph of recipient with Her Majesty the Queen at Turnhouse in 1957, and another of the recipient showing Her Majesty and Prince Philip the inside cockpit of a jet fighter on the same occasion.

Cut down photograph of recipient in mess dress wearing all his miniature medals.

A large quantity of photographs from his service, both wartime and post war.

A large quantity of reunion photographs and official invites and menus dating through into the 1990’s.

A large quantity of newspaper cuttings relating to moments in his service.

Patrick Dennis Collins Street was born in Reading, Berkshire in 1922, and joined the Royal Navy on the outbreak of the Second World War, being put forward for pilot training with a view to entering the Fleet Air Arm, in June 1941, he began training in Magister aircraft, flying his first solo on 29th June at No.24 Elementary Flying Training School, he was rated as ‘average’ by the end of July, and in August began training in the Hart aircraft, flying his first solo on type on the 17th August, whilst with No.1 Service Flying Training School at Netheravon.

By the end of September he was deemed as ‘above the average’ and progressed onto the Hind aircraft, and in October 1941 began his first dive bombing training as a member of ‘E’ Flight, gaining his pilots wings on 1st December 1941.

In January 1942 he first flew the Hurricane fighter having been posted that month to join 760 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton, he being rated as an ‘above average’ pilot but additionally noted as ‘over confident – unkind to the machine’. When 760 Squadron was disbanded in March 1942, Street who was by now ranked as a Petty Officer Pilot, then transferred to 761 Naval Air Squadron, also based at Yeovilton, and flying the Fulmar fighter, which was specifically suited for deck landings on aircraft carriers, and had a long range, but by this time was being fazed out. In April 1942 he gained experience on the Martlet fighter, and acted that month as a Ferry Pool pilot for 782 Naval Air Squadron.

Then in May 1942 he embarked aboard the aircraft carrier H.M.S Indomitable, and travelled out aboard her to East Africa, having joined 806 Naval Air Squadron. Street saw service with the squadron’s ‘A’ Flight aboard Indomitable, the flight being under the command of Lieutenant Barry Nation, who would become a lifelong friend, and in 1994 would give the address at Street’s funeral. In July 1942 the carrier returned to the United Kingdom, but very soon afterwards Indomitable and the airmen aboard her, including Street, became involved in the famous Operation Pedestal.

Pedestal was a British operation to carry supplies to the island of Malta in August 1942, during the Second World War. Malta was a base from which ships, submarines and aircraft attacked Axis convoys to the Axis forces in Libya and Egypt, during the North African Campaign (1940–1943). From 1940 to 1942, the Axis conducted the Siege of Malta, with air and naval forces. Despite many losses, enough supplies were delivered by the British for the population and military forces on Malta to resist, although it ceased to be an offensive base for much of 1942. The most crucial supply item in Operation Pedestal was fuel carried by SS Ohio, an American-built tanker with a British crew. The operation began on 3 August 1942 and the convoy sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar on the night of 9/10 August.  

The Axis attempt to prevent fifty ships getting past bombers, German E-boats, Italian MAS and MS boats, through minefields and submarine ambushes, was the last Axis Mediterranean victory. While a costly tactical defeat for the Allies, it was also one of the greatest British strategic victories of the war. More than 500 Merchant and Royal Navy sailors and airmen were killed and only five of the 14 merchant ships reached Grand Harbour but the arrival of Ohio, justified the decision to hazard so many warships, its cargo of aviation fuel revitalising the Maltese air offensive against Axis shipping.

During Operation Pedestal, Street flew in Grumman Martlet, also known as the Wildcat from 1944, a monoplace fighter, and during Pedestal he flew in four sorties from the deck of Indomitable, the first an ‘interception’ on 5th August, it was on the 11th August that the enemy threw in their first forces, and on this day Street flew for 2.15 minutes in an ‘umbrella over the fleet’.

The Italian submarine Uarsciek sighted the British ships at 04:30 on 11 August; the captain approached on the surface and fired three torpedoes, claiming a hit on the carrier in a 09:36 sighting report and during the evening a Ju 88 photographed the fleet from high altitude, immune to anti-aircraft fire or FAA fighters.

The Italian submarines were ordered into three patrol lines to intercept the convoy. Despite Axis submarines, three cruisers and twenty-six destroyers refuelled from the tankers Dingledale and Brown Ranger of Force R by dawn. (Previous Malta convoys had refuelled at Malta but now the island had no oil to spare.) The convoy was south of the Balearic Islands on course for Cap Bon at daybreak and at about 06:20, a U-boat sighted the convoy. At 08:15 a Luftwaffe reconnaissance aircraft reported that the convoy was 95 nautical miles north-west of Algiers; fifteen minutes later, a Ju-88 began to shadow the convoy at 20,000–24,000 feet and continued throughout the day. At noon, the convoy was about 75 nmi south of Majorca, sailing due east on a zigzag course. Furious conducted the flying off between 12:30 and 15:15, 38 Spitfires for the 555–584 nmi journey to Malta and then turned round with her escorts for Gibraltar (37 of the aircraft reached Malta). Enigma decrypts showed that at 11:55, the light cruisers Eugenio di Savoia, Raimondo Montecuccoli, Muzio Attendolo of the 7th Cruiser Division at Cagliari had been ordered by Supermarina to be at two hours' notice from 18:00 and that with the heavy cruisers Gorizia, Bolzano and Trieste of the 3rd Cruiser Division at Messina, had been informed at 13:00 that Italian submarines were operating north of Bizerte. Three Axis submarines were seen departing Cagliari at 20:45 and the British learned that at 18:00 the 7th Cruiser Division with 17 destroyers, had sailed east and that 3rd Cruiser Division had departed from Messina and Naples. Allied intelligence also learned that Panzerarmee Afrika in Egypt believed that the convoy was a threat to Tobruk. Kesselring thought that a landing on the North African coast might be attempted and next day issued an order of the day, that landings would influence operations in Africa and must be prevented. Luftgau Afrika (Air District Africa) expected a landing at Tripoli on 13 or 14 August. At 08:00 U-73 from periscope depth, saw ships out of range but behind them another group of merchantmen were followed by the carrier Eagle. Rosenbaum was able to manoeuvre within 400 yd (370 m) and fire four torpedoes which hit Eagle at 13:15, sinking the ship eight minutes later, 70 nmi (130 km; 81 mi) south of Cape Salinas, 80 nmi (150 km; 92 mi) north of Algiers. The destroyers HMS Lookout, HMS Laforey and the tug Jaunty rescued 929 men of the complement of 1,160 but 231 men and all but four Sea Hurricanes (in the air during the sinking) were lost, about 20 percent of the fighter cover for the convoy. The German submarine escaped, possibly due to layers of the sea being at different temperatures, affecting the ships' Asdic and after the torpedoing there were frequent false alarms. At 14:30 a Ju 88, one of ten Aufklärungsgruppe 122 aircraft that had shadowed the convoy from 10:10, flew a reconnaissance sortie over the convoy, too high for the Sea Hurricanes to intercept. The Luftwaffe attacked just after sunset at 20:56, when the convoy was about 200 nmi from Sardinia, with 27 Ju-88 bombers and three He-111 torpedo-bombers. The Heinkels flew low to drop torpedoes and the Ju 88s attacked out of the dusk in shallow dives, that evaded the fighters but anti-aircraft fire from the convoy shot down two Ju 88s for no loss and then damaged several British fighters as they landed on.

On the night of 11/12 August, the Italian 7th and 3rd Cruiser divisions and 17 destroyers, sailed from Cagliari, Messina and Naples to engage the British convoy. The RAF at the Malta Operations Room sent orders in plain language to a Wellington bomber that dropped flares and sent messages in clear, supposedly guiding a fictitious B-24 Liberator force, to bluff the Italian ships away from the convoy. (Supermarina (Italian Naval Headquarters) had actually cancelled the operation before the British signals were received, because of a lack of air cover.) At 00:20, the British discovered from Enigma that Italian intelligence had sighted four British cruisers and ten destroyers and thought that part of the convoy might be proceeding to the eastern Mediterranean. Enigma also revealed operation orders from Fliegerkorps II to the fighters of Jagdgeschwader 77 (JG 77) at Elmas in Sardinia, to expect a convoy the Sicilian Narrows early on 12 August. Fliegerkorps II was to co-operate with the Regia Aeronautica in Sicily and Sardinia, flying in waves with fighter escorts against the convoy.

British intelligence concluded that the convoy and its huge escort force had caused the Axis commanders to be apprehensive of a landing anywhere along the North African coast or on Crete. Axis precautionary measures had been taken on the assumption that if Crete was the target, landings would occur before 14 August. Defensive measures were also taken in the Benghazi–Tripoli area of Libya, where a squadron of Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters and the long-range bombers based at Derna were alerted to move to Benghazi or Tripoli, supported by Ju-52 transport aircraft. Panzerarmee Afrika prepared detachments to repel landings and moved forces to the Sollum–Mersa Matruh area, to defend the coast east of Tobruk. At 07:00, all ship movements from North Africa to Italy and the Aegean were suspended and by late afternoon, the British knew that the Luftwaffe anticipated a landing at Tripoli on 13 or 14 August. Fighter and dive-bomber reinforcements were sent from Sicily and Enigma intercepted a message from Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, the commander in chief of the Luftwaffe, ordering that the Luftwaffe ‘... will operate with no other thought in mind than the destruction of the British convoy ... The destruction of this convoy is of decisive importance.’ The attacks were to be directed against the British aircraft carriers and merchantmen. At 00:54, HMS Wolverine, part of the escort force for Furious, had been detached with four more destroyers for anti-submarine patrols after the loss of Eagle, detected a submarine at 4,900 yd, accelerated, obtained a visual contact at 700 yd and rammed the Italian submarine Dagabur at 27 knots, sinking the submarine with all hands.

On the morning of the 12th August, Axis aircraft resumed shadowing at 05:00 and at 06:10, Indomitable sent Martlets to shoot down two Ju 88 reconnaissance aircraft, which proved too high and too fast to intercept. Four Sea Hurricanes and Fulmars took off from the two carriers for air cover and every aircraft was readied to fly. German reconnaissance aircraft kept watch on the convoy, flying too high and fast for the FAA fighters. At 09:15, when the convoy was about 130 nmi south-south-west of Sardina, 19 Junkers Ju 88s dive-bombers of Lehrgeschwader 1 (LG 1) were intercepted 25 nmi out. Four Ju 88s were shot down and another two were claimed by navy anti-aircraft gunners (German records showed five shot down and two lost over Sardinia from mechanical failure) for the loss of one FAA fighter. The German crews made extravagant claims but did little damage and three Italian reconnaissance aircraft were also shot down. Beaufighters returning from a raid on Sardinia, saw the 7th Cruiser Division (Da Zara) at sea and raised the alarm. The cruisers had sailed from Cagliari into the Tyrrhenian Sea at 08:10 on 11 August, escorted by the Maestrale-class destroyers Maestrale, Oriani and Gioberti, to rendezvous with Attendolo from Naples. Early on 12 August, Trieste sailed from Genoa for Naples with the Soldati-class destroyer Fuciliere and a torpedo-boat, Ardito to join the 3rd Cruiser Division, which had left Messina early with the cruisers Gorizia, Bolzano and six destroyers after receiving a signal from U-83 (Kapitänleutnant Hans Werner Kraus) that four cruisers and ten destroyers (MG 3) were close to Crete. The Italian cruisers and destroyers rendezvoused 60 nmi north of Ustica off Palermo at the west end of Sicily, some of the ships being short of fuel and then moved south in two squadrons, preceded by the torpedo-boats Climene and Centauro. British reconnaissance aircraft from Malta had flown over Italian ports, a Spitfire pilot saw that the 3rd Cruiser Division had left port and at 18:54 a Baltimore crew saw the Italian ships rendezvous. On Malta, Park was not disturbed until the convoy and escort losses of the day, which depleted Force X; five Wellington bombers were sent to find the Italian cruisers and 15 Beaufort torpedo-bombers and 15 Beaufighters stood by.

The biggest convoy attack came around noon from Sardinia-based aircraft; a wave ten SM.84 bombers from 38° Gruppo BT and eight CR.42s of 24° Gruppo CT flying as bombers with 14 MC.202 escorts, followed after five minutes by nine Savoia-Marchetti SM.79s and ten SM.84 torpedo bombers attacking the starboard side of the convoy escorted by 12 Re.2001 fighters and 21 SM.79s and 12 Re.2001s from the port side, all the bombers aiming for the merchant ships. The second wave had been delayed by 15 minutes due to a shortage of mechanics for the Re.2001s and only 31 aircraft could take off. The bombers were met by a big anti-aircraft barrage and the merchantmen took evasive action and none were hit by the bombers that managed to get into range. The third wave comprised a pair of Re.2001G/V fighter-bombers from the Sezione Speciale (Special Section), intended to carry 1,390 pounds (630 kg) low-altitude armour-piercing bombs. The bombs were not ready and the aircraft carried anti-personnel bombs; the fighter-bombers were accompanied by a special radio-controlled SM.79, loaded with a 2,200-pound (1,000 kg) bomb and directed by Generale di brigata Ferdinando Raffaelli in a Cant Z1007.

The wave was escorted by two of the five Fiat G.50 fighters of the 24° Gruppo CT which managed to find the formation. The pilot of the SM.79 pointed the aircraft towards the ships and parachuted, Rafaelli in the Z.1007bis guiding the bomb by radio. The radio failed and the SM.79 flew straight on, instead of diving on one of the aircraft carriers as intended and crashed into Mount Khenchela in Algeria. The Sezione Speciale was mistaken for a Hurricane formation and both hit Victorious, one bomb killing six sailors and wounding two, the other bouncing off the deck and exploding over the sea. The first ten SM.84 bombers carried electric Motobomba FFF torpedoes which were designed to travel in an increasing spiral. The torpedoes were dropped 2,000 yd (1,800 m) from the ships, which used the evasive manoeuvres practised in Operation Berserk to escape. Between the second and third waves of Regia Aeronautica aircraft, 37 Ju88s from Kampfgeschwader 54 (KG 54) and Kampfgeschwader 77 (KG 77) attacked, having flown from Sicily with 21 Bf 109 fighter escorts, after using radio-countermeasures to blind the British radar on Malta. Five aircraft had turned back with mechanical failures but the rest evaded four Fulmars. Deucalion was hit and forced out of the convoy, escorted by HMS Bramham. The number of Axis aircraft in the attacks was unprecedented, with 117 Italian and 58 German sorties for only meagre results. Two bombers, a torpedo-bomber and a fighter had been lost for one hit on Victorious and the damage to Deucalion. The quantity of anti-aircraft fire had led many aircrew to release their bombs and torpedoes early but the Italian aircraft from Sardinia could refuel and rearm to attack again and a Cant Z1007 and several Luftwaffe aircraft continued to shadow the convoy.

Enigma decrypts showed the British that at 18:30 on 12 August, an S-boat flotilla was due to sail at 16:00 from Porto Empedocle in Sicily for Cap Bon to operate in the area until about 04:30 on 13 August. At 21:45, a Fliegerkorps II assessment revealed that the Axis thought that there were 51 ships in the western Mediterranean, including two carriers, two battleships, seven cruisers and twenty destroyers. The Germans mistakenly thought that a US Yorktown-class aircraft carrier was present but correctly identified Rodney and Nelson. The convoy was thought to consist of 13 freighters of 105,000 long tons (107,000 t), protected by 10–16 fighters and plenty of anti-aircraft guns. The Italian submarine Brin was driven off by destroyers and at 09:30 a Sunderland flying boat damaged Giada off Algiers. At 13:34 another Sunderland from 202 Squadron caused more damage but Giada shot down the flying boat, before heading for Valencia (until 14 August) with one dead and eight wounded crewmen on board. The convoy was approached at 16:30 by Emo (commander, Giuseppe Franco). Emo manoeuvred into position to fire torpedoes at a carrier from 2,200 yd (2,000 m) but a sudden course change led Franco to change targets, launch four torpedoes and dive. The convoy had changed course again and the torpedoes missed; observers on Tartar saw the torpedo tracks and raised the alarm. Lookout sped towards a periscope, which was of Avorio moving into an attack position and forced it to dive, spoiling its attack; at 17:40, Lookout returned to the convoy. At 16:49 Cobalto was depth-charged by HMS Ithuriel while at periscope depth and forced to the surface, engaged by gunfire, rammed by Ithuriel and sank at 17:02. Ithuriel lost two crewmen who boarded Cobalto to try keep the submarine afloat; two Italian seamen were lost and the other crew members were rescued by the British. Ithuriel was badly damaged, lost its Asdic, was slowed to 20 kn (23 mph; 37 km/h) and had to make for Gibraltar. Syfret had two destroyers on each flank of the convoy drop depth-charges every ten minutes to deter submarines. Force F entered the Italian submarine ambush area C and just after 16:00 HMS Pathfinder obtained an Asdic contact on Granito and forced it away with five depth-charges but then had to return to the convoy. (Many submarine alarms were possibly caused by ghost Asdic contacts, caused by the warm waters of the Mediterranean.)

The Regia Aeronautica units based in Sardinia managed to prepare eight Cr.42 dive bombers and an escort of nine Re.2001 from 362° Squadriglie and nine SM.79 bombers from Decimomannu. The SM.79s failed to find the convoy and a Re.2001 was shot down by an 806 Squadron Martlet from Indomitable. The convoy crossed the 10th parallel, beyond which aircraft based in Sicily could fly with fighter escorts and 105 aircraft were to attack in three waves. Problems with the fighter escorts were encountered, because the Re.2001s of the 2° Gruppo CT had escorted the Sardinia-based bombers and landed in Sardinia and were not available until the next day. The torpedo- and dive-bombers were sent to Pantellaria to fly with the 51° Gruppo CT (MC.202s) and avoid the problems of co-ordination when aircraft flew from different bases. Four aircraft were sent on reconnaissance sorties and then four of the Italian Ju87s of 102° Gruppo BT were found to lack long-range tanks and torpedoes could not be attached to six SM.84s. Fulmars from Victorious shot down the SM.79 of Captain Giuseppe Mollo on reconnaissance but a Cant Z1007 maintained contact. Fliegerkorps II arranged to co-ordinate with the Italians but the operations were independent. I Gruppe, Sturzkampfgeschwader 3 (StG 3) had transferred from Trapani to Elmas and at 17:30 twenty Ju87s with Bf 109 escorts took off.

Italian Ju 87s of 102° Gruppo arrived in poor visibility but at 18:35 the clouds parted. The Italian formation had been detected by radar while 40 nmi (46 mi; 74 km) out and three Martlets, twelve Sea Hurricanes and three Fulmars were airborne but faced MC.202 and Bf 109 escorts, the best Axis fighters. The dive- and torpedo-bomber attacks were well synchronised, the Ju87s diving as the torpedo bombers approached in three waves at 1,200 ft (370 m) The Ju87s managed a near miss on Rodney with the 1,100 lb (500 kg) bomb exploding in the sea, one Stuka being shot down by a Hurricane and one by anti-aircraft fire. As the ships manoeuvred to evade the torpedo-bombers, another wave of Ju87s arrived at 9,000 ft (2,700 m) and bombed Indomitable from out of the sun, hit the flight deck twice and near-missed three times, with 2,200 lb (1,000 kg) bombs, killing fifty and wounding 59 men and seriously damaging the ship, which caught fire and slowed to 17 kn (20 mph), leaving Victorious as the last operational carrier. By 20:30, Indomitable had worked up to 28.5 kn (32.8 mph) but the damage to the flight deck left it out of action. Aircraft landed on Victorious but those that could not be accommodated were thrown overboard.

Charybdis, Lookout, Lightning and Somali gave assistance to Indomitable and the SM.79 torpedo-bombers were met with concentrated anti-aircraft fire. Only twelve SM.79s were able to drop torpedoes, at the long range of 3,000 yd (2,700 m) and Foresight was hit on the stern, sending crewmen flying through the air. (The ship was towed back to Gibraltar by Tartar.) A final Axis attack with twelve SM.79s and 28 Ju 87s cost two Ju87s shot down and two damaged for no Allied loss and after returning to Pantellaria, the Axis aircraft were strafed by three Beaufighters, which flamed a Lufttwaffe fuel depot, destroyed a Ju 52, damaged two SM79s and an SM.84 and killed an Italian pilot caught on the airfield. The Axis air forces had flown 180–220 escorted bomber sorties during the day and the Germans claimed that they had damaged an aircraft carrier, a cruiser, a destroyer and a large merchant ship. Both sides overclaimed, the British counted 39 shot-down aircraft against the true figure of 18 Axis aircraft lost; three Fulmars, three Sea Hurricanes and a Martlet had been shot down.

The loss of Eagle with its 16 aircraft and the damage to Indomitable which grounded 47 more aircraft, reduced the number of operational fighters to eight Sea Hurricanes, three Martlets and ten Fulmars, as Force Z was due to leave the convoy, to remain outside the range of Axis aircraft based in Sardinia. Syfret had intended Force Z to turn west upon reaching the Skerki Bank at 19:15 but ordered the turn at 18:55, quickly to get Indomitable out of danger.

During the 12th August, Street flew two sorties, before the Indomitable was so badly damaged as to be unable to launch aircraft, and was required to turn round and get out of danger. His first sortie, an ‘umbrella over fleet’, lasted for 2 hours and 15 minutes, whilst the second, another ‘umbrella over fleet’ lasted for 2 hours and 25 minutes. During this second sortie, a note appears in his log book reading ’15.7.79 (crew baled out. Certain)’. What this means is not clear, but it may well be that he engaged an enemy aircraft whose crew then baled out, a matter he was certain of, however there was certainly no one to verify his claim, and this potential kill was never confirmed.

With Indomitable out of the convoy, Street returned with her to Gibralter, and Indomitable then crossed the Atlantic for her repair in the United States, she having been hit by two 500 kg bombs and suffered three near misses; a 500 kg bomb penetrated the unarmoured portion of the flight deck, causing damage that required her to withdraw for repairs, although she was able to steam at 28.5 knots less than two hours after the hits. Indomitable was not fully repaired till February 1943, and Street then found himself posted home in September 1942 to join 882 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Donibristle in the Firth of Forth. On 4th October 1942 he was posted with 882 Squadron to the aircraft carrier H.M.S Victorious based at Scapa Flow, another veteran of Operation Pedestal, and then undergoing a refit in readiness of Operation Torch which occurred in November 1942, and that month he was aboard when Winston Churchill visited the ship just prior to her departure for the Mediterranean and the North Africa landings.

Operation Torch (initially called Operation Gymnast) was the British-American invasion of French North Africa which started on 8 November 1942. The Soviet Union had pressed the United States and United Kingdom to start operations in Europe and open a second front to reduce the pressure of German forces on the Soviet troops. While the American commanders favored Operation Sledgehammer, landing in Occupied Europe as soon as possible, the British commanders believed that such a course would end in disaster. An attack on French North Africa was proposed instead, which would clear the Axis powers from North Africa, improve naval control of the Mediterranean Sea, and prepare for an invasion of Southern Europe in 1943. The U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, suspected the African operation would rule out an invasion of Europe in 1943 but agreed to support the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The Allies planned an Anglo-American invasion of north-western Africa — Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, territory nominally in the hands of the Vichy French government. With much of North Africa already under Allied control, this would allow the Allies to carry out a pincer operation against Axis forces in North Africa. The Vichy French had around 125,000 soldiers in the territories as well as coastal artillery, 210 operational but out-of-date tanks and about 500 aircraft, half of which were Dewoitine D.520 fighters — equal to many British and U.S. fighters. These forces included 60,000 troops in Morocco, 15,000 in Tunisia, and 50,000 in Algeria. In addition, there were 10 or so warships and 11 submarines at Casablanca.

The Allies believed that the Vichy French forces would not fight, partly because of information supplied by American Consul Robert Daniel Murphy in Algiers. The French were former Allies of the U.S. and the American troops were instructed not to fire unless they were fired upon. However, they harbored suspicions that the Vichy French navy would bear a grudge over the British action at Mers-el-Kebir in 1940. An assessment of the sympathies of the French forces in North Africa was essential, and plans were made to secure their cooperation, rather than resistance. German support for the Vichy French came in the shape of air support. Several Luftwaffe bomber wings undertook anti-shipping strikes against Allied ports in Algiers and along the North African coast. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was given command of the operation, and he set up his headquarters in Gibraltar. The Allied Naval Commander of the Expeditionary Force would be Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham; his deputy was Vice-Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, who would plan the amphibious landings.

Victorious was allotted to the Eastern Task Force which was tasked with seizing Algiers and its surrounds. On 8 November 1942, the invasion commenced with landings split between three beaches—two west of Algiers and one east. Under overall command of Major General Charles W. Ryder, Commanding General of the U.S. 34th Infantry Division, British 11th Brigade Group from the British 78th Infantry Division, landed on the right hand beach, U.S. 168th Regimental Combat Team, from the 34th Infantry Division, supported by 6th Commando and most of 1st Commando on the middle beach while the U.S. 39th Regimental Combat Team, also from the U.S. 34th Division, supported by the remaining 5 troops from 1st Commando landed on the left hand beach. The British 36th Brigade Group from the British 78th Division stood by in floating reserve. Though some landings went to the wrong beaches, this was immaterial because of the extremely low level of French opposition. All the coastal batteries had been neutralized by French resistance, and one French commander openly welcomed the landing Allies. The only fighting took place in the port of Algiers, where in Operation Terminal, two British destroyers attempted to land a party of U.S. Army Rangers directly onto the dock, in order to prevent the French destroying the port facilities and scuttling their ships. Heavy artillery fire prevented one destroyer from landing but the other was able to disembark 250 Rangers before it too was driven back to sea. The landed troops pushed quickly inland and General Juin surrendered the city to the Allies at 18:00.

On 8th November, Street who was flying in a Martlet fighter, flew a patrol over Baida, when Barry Nation landed and accepted the surrender of the General Officer Commanding, and then Street and a fellow pilot, Tony Madden landed at Maison Blanche. Then then both flew back to Victorious. On 9th November he flew a ‘fleet patrol’ during which he recorded that ‘Roy Tebble & Self chased & shot down in flames Heinkel III. Crew baled out. Two picked up by destroyer’. This kill is confirmed. Then on the same day he flew another ‘fleet patrol’ and apparently engaged and claimed an Italian SM79 aircraft. On 12th November he flew in another ‘fleet patrol’ from Victorious, and then on 15th November flew back to Gibraltar to hand over his aircraft to the aircraft carrier H.M.S Formidable.  

By December 1942 he was back home, and later that month he rejoined Victorious at Scapa Flow, and in mid December sailed with her across the Atlantic to the United States, arriving at Norfolk, Virginia a few days later, landing there from the carrier on 1st January 1943.

USS Hornet was sunk and USS Enterprise was badly damaged at the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, leaving the United States Navy with only one fleet carrier, USS Saratoga, operational in the Pacific. As such in late December 1942, Victorious was loaned to the US Navy after an American plea for carrier reinforcement. She was not renamed USS Robin as sometimes claimed. US carriers used a two-syllable radio call sign, e.g. Cactus or Spartan ; Victorious used the call sign Robin . After a refit in the United States at the Norfolk Navy Yard in January 1943 and the addition of Avenger aircraft, Victorious passed through the Panama Canal on 17 February to operate with United States forces in the Pacific. Her crew suffered a diphtheria outbreak and medical supplies were dropped to her by air on 21 February.

Street had sailed with Victorious through the Panama Canal, and on into the Pacific, where she arrived at Hawaii on 4th March 1943. Victorious arrived at Pearl Harbor in March 1943 and was fitted with heavier arrester wires as RN wires had proved too light for the Grumman Avenger aircraft. Additional AA guns were also fitted. On 22nd March, Street’s aircraft, a Martlet, crashed on take-off, he being unhurt, but his aircraft was very badly damaged.

Victorious sailed for the south-west Pacific, arriving Nouméa, New Caledonia, on 17 May to form Carrier Division 1 with the USS Saratoga. She sortied immediately for a week with Task Force 14, including Saratoga and battleships North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Indiana sweeping against reported Japanese fleet activity, but without contact. Six aircraft were lost to accidents. Rear Admiral DeWitt Ramsey, commanding the Division, carried out evaluation exercises and patrol sweeps in June and determined that Victorious had superior fighter control but handled Avenger aircraft poorly because of their weight.

Accordingly, he transferred 882 Squadron FAA on to the Saratoga and US Carrier Air Group 3 on to the Victorious. Thereafter, Victorious' primary role was fighter cover and Saratoga mainly handled strikes. On 27 June, TF14 was redesignated Task Group 36.3 and sailed to provide cover for the invasion of New Georgia (part of Operation Cartwheel).Victorious spent the next 28 days continuously in combat operations at sea, a record for a British carrier, steaming 12,223 miles at an average speed over 18 kts and launching 614 sorties. Returning to Nouméa on 25 July, Victorious was recalled home. During this period Street who by now had been commissioned, flew a good number of fighter patrols between the 1st and 19th July, 11 hours of flying time in total during the period.

Though the Japanese had four carriers to Ramsey's two, it seemed clear that they were not intending to press their advantage and the first two carriers of the new Essex-class had arrived at Pearl Harbor well ahead of schedule. Victorious left for Pearl Harbor on 31 July, leaving behind her Avengers as replacements for Saratoga, sailing in company with battleship Indiana and launching 165 anti submarine sweeps en route. She also carried US pilots finishing their tours as well as two Japanese POWs. After a brief stop in San Diego, Victorious passed through the Panama Canal on 26 August and arrived at Norfolk Navy Yard 1 September, where specialized US equipment was removed. Returning home, she arrived at Greenock on the Clyde on 26 September 1943 where aircraft and stores were discharged awaiting refit. During the return across the Atlantic, Street had got in the opportunity to fly an anti-submarine patrol. Street was posted ashore with his squadron and then flew from RNAS Eglinton in County Londonderry in Northern Ireland. During November 1943 he flew and number of times to and from the aircraft carrier, which at this time was used for deck landing practice, and in that month he transferred to 768 Naval Air Squadron, getting in further experience on the Wildcat and also the Spitfire, known in its naval form as the Seafire. He also flew the Swordfish torpedo bomber, Corsair, Barracuda and Avenger. The first half of 1944 was uneventful other than that he flew countless local flights, and on 2nd June 1944 he flew in a Swordfish with a civilian female member of the Crown Film Unit. During this period he also amassed a huge number of deck landings, and in October 1944 began to fly to and from the escort carrier H.M.S Speaker, during a period when the carrier which had recently arrived from the United States, filled in as a training carrier.

At the beginning of November 1944, Street transferred into the newly formed 1840 Naval Air Squadron, which unit encompassed a good number of pilots from the Royal Netherlands Naval Aviation Service, he being now under the command of his friend, Lieutenant Commander Barry Nation. Around this time, Street by now a Lieutenant, became one of the very first pilot’s to amass 1000 carrier deck landings.

In late December 1944, 1840 Squadron embarked with new rocket-fitted, Mk. III Hellcats. Speaker sailed from the Clyde for Gibraltar and the Mediterranean on 11 January 1945, in company with HMS Slinger, HMS Khedive and three destroyers. While passing through the Mediterranean, the flotilla flew an anti-submarine search off North Africa after a reported sighting by a merchantman, but without success. The flotilla continued on to join the Eastern Fleet at Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). They paused briefly at Alexandria and refuelled at Aden. Flying practice continued en route, one aircraft and pilot being lost in an accident in the Red Sea. At Colombo, where they arrived on 4 February, Speaker and Slinger were ordered onward to join the British Pacific Fleet (BPF) at Sydney, Australia. While off Western Australia, the two carriers assisted in a search for survivors of a troopship sinking on 13th February, this being the troopship ‘Peter Sylvester’, which Street assisted in the search for. They arrived at Sydney on 23 February. Eight of Speaker's aircraft and pilots were transferred to HMS Indomitable, though Street was not one. While in port, repairs and maintenance were completed and crew enjoyed shore leave in local homes.

Speaker left Sydney on 9 March for the BPF forward base at Manus Island, via the Jomard Passage, where she joined the search for survivors of the USS Robert Sylvester. After a short and bleak stay, and now part of 30th Aircraft Carrier Squadron, they sailed on 18 March with Striker and an escort led by HMS Kempenfelt. Their role was to provide air cover (Combat Air Patrol) for the British fuelling area during Operation Iceberg, the invasion of Okinawa. The escort for the logistic force were British and Australian destroyers, sloops, frigates and corvettes (such as Pheasant, Crane, Woodcock, Whimbul, Avon, Derg, Findhorn, Parrett, Bathhurst, Cessnock, Pirie and Whyalla). Despite the routine nature of the duty and the lack of combat action, the morale of the logistic force and its escorts remained high.

The Battle of Okinawa codenamed Operation Iceberg, was a series of battles fought in the Japanese Ryukyu Islands, centered on the island of Okinawa, and included the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War on the 1 April 1945 with invasion of Okinawa itself. The 82-day-long battle lasted from 1 April until 22 June 1945. After a long campaign of island hopping, the Allies were planning to use Okinawa, a large island only 340 miles away from mainland Japan, as a base for air operations for the planned invasion of Honshu, the Japanese mainland. The United States created the Tenth Army, a cross-branch force consisting of the 7th, 27th, 77th, and 96th infantry divisions of the U.S. Army with the 1st and 6th divisions of the Marines Corps, to fight on the island. The Tenth was unique in that it had its own tactical air force (joint Army-Marine command), and was also supported by combined naval and amphibious forces.

The British Pacific Fleet, taking part as Task Force 57, was assigned the task of neutralizing the Japanese airfields in the Sakishima Islands, which it did successfully from 26 March to 10 April. On 10 April, its attention was shifted to airfields on northern Formosa. The force withdrew to San Pedro Bay on 23 April. On 1 May, the British Pacific Fleet returned to action, subduing the airfields as before, this time with naval bombardment as well as aircraft. Several kamikaze attacks caused significant damage, but since the British used armored flight decks on their aircraft carriers, they only experienced a brief interruption to their force's objective.

During the battle, Street who at some stage transferred with his squadron to the aircraft carrier H.M.S Indomitable, flew a good number of patrols over the fleet during the passage there and during the neutralizing of the Japanese airfields in the Sakishima Islands from late March to mid April, it being for his part specifically in the strike on 26th March 1945, that he would eventually receive the Distinguished Service Cross. This was followed by by the similar operations against the airfields in northern Formosa in April. Street soon found himself heavily engaged with the Japanese on the fleets returned from its brief rest at San Pedro Bay, by not having transferred to 1839 Naval Air Squadron as of the fleets return to operations.

On 1st May he had a close shave when on landing the deck wire designed to slow the landing of his aircraft, parted on his landing, and he narrowly avoided going over the side. On 2nd May he flew as escort for Avengers during further attacks on northern Formosa. Then on 4th May he flew a patrol over the fleet, and his log book notes ‘section credited with one Jill confirmed’, this being a Japanese Nakajima B6N Tenzan torpedo bomber. Street is confirmed as having gained this victory in Ray Sturtivant’s book, thus becoming one of the very few airman of the Second World War to claim victories against German, Italian and Japanese aircraft, the three main Axis powers. On this day, Indomitable in turn was hit by a kamikaze, but her armoured flight deck saved her from serious damage. On 5th May he flew a patrol over the Fleet, and on 9th May notes that ‘Ishigaki Gap abandoned’ with his aircraft being unserviceable. Street carried out a good number of carrier patrols over the remaining course of the month, on the 25th May he flew as escort for an Avenger strike on Miyako Jima, the largest and the most populous island among the Miyako Islands of Okinawa. The Battle of Okinawa came to an end around this time.

The battle has been referred to as the typhoon of steel in English, and tetsu no ame ( rain of steel ) or tetsu no bōfū ( violent wind of steel ) in Japanese. The nicknames refer to the ferocity of the fighting, the intensity of Japanese kamikaze attacks, and the sheer numbers of Allied ships and armored vehicles that assaulted the island. The battle was one of the bloodiest in the Pacific, with an estimated total of over 82,000 direct casualties on both sides; 14,009 Allied deaths (over 12,500 Americans killed or missing) and 77,166 Japanese soldiers, excluding those who died from their injuries later. No figures are given for supporting Japanese forces killed. Allied grave registration forces counted 110,071 dead bodies. 42,000 to 150,000 local civilians (including all male citizens over 18, and many drafted male and female students under age 18) were killed, committed suicide or went missing, a significant proportion of the estimated pre-war 300,000 local population. As part of the naval operations surrounding the battle, the Japanese battleship Yamato was sunk, and both sides lost considerable numbers of ships and aircraft. After the battle, Okinawa provided a fleet anchorage, troop staging areas, and airfields in proximity to Japan in preparation for the planned invasion.

It was for his gallant and distinguished services aboard the aircraft carrier H.M.S Indomitable during Operation Iceberg, that Street, a Temporary Lieutenant, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in the London Gazette for 31st July 1945, the award being specifically for his part played in the air strikes on the Sakishima Islands on 26th May 1945, he having shown ‘gallantry, skill and marked devotion to duty in air strikes in the Far East’.

Street returned to Australia in early June 1945, 1839 Naval Air Squadron having by now been taken over by his friend Barry Nation. In August, with the war ending, back aboard Indomitable, Street supported the liberation of Hong Kong, with Indomitable arriving after a landing party from HMCS Prince Robert had taken the Japanese surrender. Her aircraft flew the carrier's last combat missions of the war and of her career on 31 August and 1 September against Japanese suicide boats which were attacking British forces, but there is no evidence that Street flew in these sorties despite being aboard at this time. Indomitable returned to the UK in November 1945, and Street left the service very soon afterwards.

Having left the Royal Navy, Street then joined the British American Tobacco Company, but would have preferred to have remained in the navy, and despite applying the Admiralty would not have him back. However the Royal Air Force did, and he was commissioned in the rank of Flight Lieutenant on probation (No.501011) into the General Duties Branch in January 1950, and then underwent pilot re-training in Anson and then Harvard aircraft at the Flying Refresher School at R.A.F Finningley, completing the course in single engine aircraft on 17th March 1950.

Street was then posted to the Central Flying School where he joined No.1 Squadron as a member of ‘B’ Flight, completing his final flying test on 18th September 1950, the day before he had taken part in the Battle of Britain Day Dive Bombing Display at Rissington. In October 1950 he gained his first experience in the Meteor Jet fighter as a member of ‘A’ Flight with the Central Flying School and passed for an instructor shortly afterwards.

Street was then posted to No.5 Flying Training School at Thornhill in Southern Rhodesia where he took pupils up in the Tiger Moth and Harvard aircraft from 1951 onwards. On 24th August 1951 he flew a jolly to the Victoria Falls. Street was granted a permanent commission as a Flight Lieutenant on 1st April 1952. He transferred to No.4 Flying Training School at R.A.F Heany in Southern Rhodesia in early June 1952, and continued training pilots on the Harvard aircraft with 2 Squadron. Street was posted to Headquarters of the Middle East Air Force at R.A.F Ismailia in early November 1952, and accompanied the Commander in Chief and his Staff on visits. From 28th October to 19th December 1953 he partook in the Commonwealth Tour as Aide de Camp to Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Sanders, K.C.B., K.B.E., this trip accompanied the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II on her tour of the Commonwealth.

On his return, Street was posted to join No.205 Auxiliary Flying School at Middleton-St George in February 1954, and then gained more flying experience on the Meteor jet, flying his first solo on 24th February. By May 1954 he was rated as ‘above the average’ on Meteor aircraft.

Street was then posted to No.228 Aerial Warfare Operational Conversion Unit at R.A.F Leeming in June 1954, and was then posted operational to 46 Squadron at R.A.F Odiham which had been reformed in August, this being a night fighter unit equipped with Meteor NF12s and 14s. Training began almost immediately, but it took until the end of October for the squadron to reach a strength of 12 NF12 or 14s and one Meteor 7 for training and categorisation. When Wing Commander Birchfield took over as commanding officer from Squadron Leader Ross, the manpower situation was improving, but mechanical-transport shortages caused problems for the squadron, whose dispersal was on the opposite side of the airfield from the rest of the station. By June 1955, the squadron had received some Meteor 8s for target towing and its strength had reached 48 officers and 110 airmen. By August, when the squadron went to Acklington for its armament practice station, there were 16 aircraft.

In January 1956, the unit began converting to Javelins, and the first arrived in February, together with eight Meteor NF 11s: the NF 12s were sent off to No. 72 Squadron RAF. By May, all squadron pilots had converted and 15 Javelins were held; eight were earmarked for intensive flying trials whose target was 1,000 hours in two months — a feat believed by some to be impossible, but achieved in fact by a wartime spirit.” On 15 June, the squadron lost its commanding officer, Wing Commander Birchfield, in a Javelin crash. He was replaced by Wing Commander H. E. White. By October 1956, Street who had converted to Jevelins with the squadron, was described as ‘well above the average’, and around this time had been promoted to Squadron Leader.

Then in December 1956 Street received a posting to Javelin Mobile Conversion Unit at Leeming and then from a month later, Horsham St Faith, joining as an instructor for pilots converting onto Javelin Jet aircraft. He moved with this organisation variously to Leuchars, Turnhouse, Bruggen, Stradishall, and Acklington, and it was for his work with this unit that Street was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List published in the London Gazette for 13th June 1957, and then the Air Force Cross in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List published in the London Gazette for 12th June 1958.

From 1958 onwards, Street who had been promoted to Wing Commander, took on a ground role which severely hampered his opportunity to fly, and it was not till September 1960 that he got the opportunity to take part in No.38 Short Hunter Course at R.A.F Chivenor as part of No.229 Operational Conversion Unit, thus qualifying on the Hunter Jet Aircraft. In October 1960 he was posted to the Central Fighter Establishment at R.A.F West Raynham, getting more of an opportunity to fly. In February 1962 he took part in No,171 Short Bomber Course with 231 Operational Conversion Unit at R.A.F Bassingbourn, and then returned to the Central Fighter Establishment at R.A.F West Raynham, with his last service flying experience being gained in April 1962, Street retired at his own request with the rank of Wing Commander on 15th March 1963. An avid attendee of Squadron reunions, he passed away in 1994.

19 September 2017