Richard Searle gave the Society a most interesting lecture on
what is probably the youngest of the armed services. It was formed
in 1909 from a mixture of sailors and soldiers and their earliest
aeroplanes were donated by sponsors and looked much like the original
Wright Brothers machines.
The pictures and descriptions of the earliest efforts to take
off or land on small decks on the top of merchant ships gave one
a good idea of the courage of these early pioneers of the Fleet
The part played during the First World War of this fledgling service
was fairly small and largely took place over land.
Between the wars progress was slow until the late 30's when the
country realised that war was coming.
The realisation that air power was becoming more important spurred
the government to produce more aircraft carriers a process that
continued throughout the war.
By the end of the war nearly 100 carriers of various sorts, from
one aeroplane catapult ships to mammoth aircraft carriers were
The battle of Tarranto was described in some detail as it was
probably the most important engagement of the war for the Fleet
Air Arm and proved conclusively the value of the Service.
It was a most interesting talk, delivered with a verve that only
comes with personal experience.