FLEGG, Arthur John

No.FAA/FX 75596, Air Fitter, Arthur John FLEGG
Aged 20

H.M.S. "Glorious", Royal Navy
Killed in Action on Saturday, 8th June 1940

Arthur John Flegg was born in 1920 (Risbridge Q1-1920 4A:2164), son of Arthur Willoughby and Margaret FLEGG (née COOPER).

In 1939 his parents, father [24/2/1891] was a stationary engine fitter, mother [22/9/1901] and widowed aunt Theresa FLEGG [4/11/1867] were living at 4 Mill Villas, Little Wratting..there are two closed records.

His will gave probate to his father and Margaret McConnell (single woman), perhaps fiancée?

HMS Glorious was converted in the 1920's from a heavy cruiser into a 22,500 ton aircraft carrier, armed with only 4.7 inch guns. This light armament was justified by the Admiralty to save weight and such ships were to rely on their escorts to protect them

Evacuation of Norway
In June 1940, the British forces started to evacuate Norway. Operation ALPHABET, the evacuation of all British and Allied forces from Norway, was carried out from the 5th to the 8th of June 1940. On 3 June 1940, HMS Ark Royal and Glorious sailed to Narvik to cover the withdrawal. On 8 June 1940, the Glorious was evacuated along with RAF squadron personnel from 263 and 46 squadrons. In the early hours on 8 June 1940, five Swordfishes led the 10 Gladiators of 263 RAF Squadron and the Hurricanes of 46 RAF Squadron to the Glorious. The Gladiators landed first, followed by the Swordfishes and were stowed below with the other aircraft, the 6 Sea Gladiators of 802 Squadron and the 823 Squadron Swordfish. Finally 7 Hurricanes made their approaches and every one was landed without undue difficulty. This was the first time that high-performance monoplane fighters without arrester hooks had been landed on a carrier.

The Royal Navy force included HMS Ark Royal and HMS Glorious, cruisers HMS Southampton and HMS Coventry, 16 destroyers and numerous smaller vessels, with which to cover the evacuation convoys. A further cruiser HMS Devonshire was embarking the King of Norway and preparing to sail independently for Scapa Flow. That morning, HMS Glorious detached from the main British force, accompanied by destroyers Acasta and Ardent, she set out for Scapa Flow to sail home independently due to a supposed fuel shortage. At about 1630hrs the two German battlecruisers, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, homing on the smoke from Glorious' stack, opened fire on the three ships at a range of 27,000 yards. Before any aircraft strike could be launched the aircraft carrier received a direct hit on her forward hangar. Fire destroyed the Hurricanes and torpedoes stored below for her aircraft were unable to be retrieved for the aircraft on deck. The small calibre weapons of all three Royal Navy ships were completely ineffective at that range. By 1720hrs she was listing heavily in the swell. Within 20 minutes the carrier had sunk. Both destroyers were also hit. While laying a smoke screen to shield Glorious, first Ardent and then Acasta were sent to the bottom, the latter managing to damage Scharnhorst with a torpedo fired during her death throes. The wrecks are located 170nm W of Harstad, Norway.

The total killed or missing was 1,207 from Glorious, 160 from Acasta and 152 from Ardent, a total of 1,519.(Winton p200)
HMS Glorious before and after conversion to aircraft carrier

Battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Arthur Flegg is commemorated on the Lee-on-Solent Memorial bay1 panel 4

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details

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