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Major AJ Wright - Flying Shark Teeth

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Seafire Mk.IIC, MB218/S-A, pilot Major AJ. Wright, RM, No. 809 NAS, HMS Unicorn, September 1943. MB218 was produced by Supermarine.

It was equipped with four-bladed propeller, clipped wing and wore Temperate Sea Scheme camouflage. The toothed mouth is unusual marking for any FFA aircraft. Moreover, the panel lines aft the canopy's rear part was taped over. The aircraft participated in “Operation Avalanche” Salerno landing. It was damaged during one landing.

Wright flew in six Squadrons off five carriers. He was awarded the Battle of Britain clasp and was heavily involved in protecting the Malta convoys. After an instructional tour he was appointed to command 809 Squadron covering the Salerno landings.

Subsequently he was commander (Flying) of both Patroller and Arbiter before his final senior appointment as Air Group Commander of 16 Carrier Aircraft Group in Glory. He returned to Corps duty 1949 and retired 1958.

Wingspan: 11.23 m, Length: 9.21 m, Max. Speed at Sea level: 533 kmh, at 1830 m: 560 kmh, Climb to 1525 m: 1.9 min, Range: 825 km, Service Ceiling: 7 315 m

Seafire Mk.IIC, MB218/S-A, pilot Major Al. Wright, RM, No. 809 NAS, HMS Unicorn, September 1943. - (Art work from the box of 1/48 Model SH48102 - Supermarine Seafire Mk.II "Torch & Avalanche" by Special Hobby

Major AJ Wright Royal Marines

Alexander James Wright was born on 25th October 1913 in Northampton. His father William McCrome Wright was killed in action on 29th September 1918 serving with the 9th Battalion of the Tank Corps, he is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial.

AJ Wright attended Kettering Intermediate School, he left at age 15 and worked in Canada until 1932.

He joined the Royal Marines on 19th June 1934 as a Mrine in 198 Squad was awarded the Kings Badge after training at Deal, and promoted to Corporal in 1935 and granted a Corps commission on 1st January 1936.

He volunteered for flying training three years later, gaining his wings in 1939 and attached to teh FAA on 1st May 1939.

He joined 804 Squadron from 759 (Fleet Fighter School) Squadron on 21st March 1940. Wright embarked on the carrier HMS Glorious with a detachment of 804 on 22nd April. They flew from Glorious to Campbeltown on disembarking on 7th May 1940.

In early July 1940 he was serving with 804 Squadron at Hatston, flying Sea Gladiators on dockyard defence. Wright embarked on HMS Furious by air with 'A' Flight of 804 on 5th September. The flight disembarked and returned to Hatston on 8th September.

By 10th October 1940 Wright had left 804 Squadron and then served on HMS Argus, flying Skuas.

On 24th November 1940 Wright went to 803 Squadron on HMS Formidable, operating in the Mediterranean, covering Malta convoys and searching for the Italian fleet. In late May 1941 Wright was posted to 805 Squadron at Dekheila, Egypt, to fly Martlets in the Naval Fighter Wing.

Full title reads: "FLEET AIR ARM CO-OPERATION". Mediterranean. Various shots of the Seafire aircraft (Navy's Spitfires) being made ready and taking off from deck of aircraft carrier positioned off the Italian coast. Various shots of the Seafires returning to the carrier - the last one nearly crashes but only smashes the propeller. Click to play in You Tube)

After instructing at the Fighter School at Yeovilton, Wright took command of 809 Squadron on 7th August 1943, which embarked on HMS Unicorn for the Salerno landings on 9th to 12th September as part of Force V under Admiral Vian. The squadron flew Seafires in the umbrella over the landings, a total of 713 sorties.

A Seafire's arrester hook catches

Wright later served as Lieutenant Commander Flying on HMS Patroller and then on HMS Arbiter, which was used as a back-up carrier in operations against Japan in July and August 1945. He was Air Group Commander of 16 CAG (Carrier Air Group) on HMS Glory. He then spent two years on the staff of Flag Officer Air Home.

Off Rabaul, New Britain, Corsair aircraft coming up in the lift to the flight deck of carrier HMS Glory. The Corsairs provided air cover during signing of the surrender of all Japanese forces in New Guinea, New Britain and Solomons 6. September 1945 (Australian War Memorial) Surrender of Japanese forces in Bismarck Archipelago and New Guinea was formally accepted on board by the Australian General Sturdee at Rabaul

He returned to duty with the Royal Marines on 15th August 1949 and retired on 26th July 1958 as a Major. He received a Mention in Despatches (gazetted 2nd December 1941) for service in 805 Squadron and another (gazetted 19th May 1944) for Salerno.

Wright died in September 2005 in Dorset.

Research & text from:

Flying Royal Marines RMH Publication No 38 by Colonel Micheal Reece OBE

The Battle of Britain Memorial - Battle of Britain Archive 2007

Seafires Operational History - Armoured carriers

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