J S Bailey, OBE

Lt Cdr Bailey joined the Fleet Air Arm in 1938, and trained at 20 ERFTS Gravesend.
His logbook has survived in the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton, and confirms that he flew N-5490 during his training.

He began his operational career flying Albacores with 827 Sqn over the English Channel in 1941.
On 3rd July 1941, flying a Fairey Albacore, Bailey  he scored a probable victory, downing a BF109 during the Kirkenes raid from HMS Victorious.
This was a remarkable achievement for the crew of an Albacore to bring down a 109.
Other crew in the Albacore were Lt LC Williams and L/A CT Roberts.

He became the CO of 827 Sqn in January 1943, the first Squadron to receive the Fairey Barracuda.
The squadron aircrew had numerous problems with the new Barracuda, and were assisted by
RN Test Pilots from A&AEE Boscombe Down, notably Lt Cdr Baker-Falkner, from January to August 1943.

In June 1943, he became the CO of 768 Deck Landing Training School, Machrihanish in June 1943.

He became the CO of 815 Barracuda Sqn at Machrihanish in 1945.

When he set down a Seafire F. XV SR572 of 1832 Squadron on the deck of HMS Illustrious on May 24th 1950
Lt Cdr Bailey created what constituted at the time a world record for deck landings,
2,000 in all with 19 different types of aircraft.  The foremost aviation photographer Charles Brown was aboard Illustrious that day
to record the occasion, and the photo above became famous, and can be seen on prints, coffee mugs, jigsaws and more.

During 1943 and 1944, Bailey suffered a number of deck landing problems:

Barrier crash HMS Tracker in Swordfish 2.9.1943 (768 Sqn)
DLT, crashed HMS Ravager 8.12.1943 (768 Sqn)
Hit barrier HMS Argus in Martlet 25.4.1944 (768 Sqn)
Barrier crash HMS Argus in Martlet 12.5.1944 (768 Sqn)
Hit barrier HMS Argus in Martlet 2.6.1944 (768 Sqn)
Barrier crash HMS Argus in Martlet 4.6.1944 (768 Sqn)
Bit barrier HMS Argus in Barracuda 25.6.1944 (768 Sqn)
Barrier crash HMS Argus in Martlet 13.9.1944 (768 Sqn)

His posting as CO of 769 Sqn ended in October 1944 and he became the CO of 815 Barracuda Sqn,
Mullaghmore and Machrihanish between January and March 1945.

Return to the Pilots page

Click here to return to the top of the page