During the war years, Lee on Solent was vital for formation and work up of newly commissioned operational squadrons. As well as this, the airfield played a crucial role in the D-Day landings.
Due to naval aviation responsibilities being transferred to the Navy in May 1939, the base was then commissioned as HMS Daedalus. At the start of the Second World War, due to the threat of air raids, the station’s buildings were camouflaged and anti-aircraft gun defences and shelters constructed to protect the town’s airfield. Two units were based there: 778 Squadron and the Service Trials Unit.
By 1941 the variety of naval aircraft flying from HMS Daedalus had increased with a number of first-line squadrons being based here during their course of formation and re-equipment.
In February 1944, HMS Daedalus assembled a variety of squadrons together. These were the Fleet Air Arm’s 885, 808, 886 and 897 Squadrons of 3 Fighter Wing with Seafire L III and Seafire Vb aircraft, and 26 and 63 Squadrons from the RAF. Together these squadrons formed 34 Reconnaissance Wing, 2nd Tactical Air Force.
HMS Daedalus was the busiest airfield on the South Coast during D-Day as the RAF were joined by Canadian Typhoons and Mustangs who also flew from here. As well as this, US Navy Squadron VCS-7 used the airfield as the base for their Spitfires.
At 0441 hours on the 6 June 1944, the first aircraft to take part in Operation Overlord from Lee-on-Solent took off towards the Normandy beach head. The aircraft worked in pairs, with one plane targeting naval gunnery targets, while the other provided protection against air attack. The number of units deployed from HMS Daedalus for Operation Overlord was 435. This number was the largest achieved by any UK airfield on D-Day.
|Address||Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire PO13 9YA, UK|
|Site Ownership and Access Information||Privately owned airfield, no public access|
|Contact details||See Lee Flying Association website|
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