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771 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Culdrose, Helston, Cornwall

771 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Culdrose, Helston, Cornwall
On 1 January 2016, 771 Naval Air Squadron, motto "Not For Ourselves Alone" based at RNAS Culdrose (HMS Seahawk), disbanded and handed over search & rescue operations in the area to Bristow Helicopters, who will operate out of Newquay Airport. This ends forty years of search & rescue by 771 at Culdrose.

771 NAS were formed in 1939 at Lee-on-Solent operating Fairey Swordfishes for exercises with ships, and towing targets for air gunners. Later in 1939 they moved to RNAS Hatston, operating a variety of aircraft including Walruses and Hurricanes. In May 1941 they played an important part in the sinking of the Bismarck. Shore based aircraft did not have the range to attack Bismarck in Bergen, so they were relying on RAF Coastal Command to overfly Bergen in one of the squadron's American Maryland aircraft, to confirm if she had left. The RAF deemed the weather too bad for flying, but a volunteer crew from 771 NAS undertook the mission and were able to confirm Bismarck's departure. Based on this information, the Home Fleet were deployed, intercepting Bismarck at the Battle of the Denmark Straits. Crew members were awarded a DSO, DSC and DSM respectively for this mission.

In February 1945, the squadron became the first naval air squadron to be equipped with helicopters, the Hoverfly. Following disbandment and reforming, 771 took over SAR duties in 1970, a role it has kept up until this year, having moved to Culdrose in 1974.

Individual honours for SAR work have included 4 George Medals, 3 Air Force Crosses, 6 Queens Gallantry Medals, and 14 Queen's Commendation for Bravery awards.

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