17 Jun 829 Squadron Decomissioning Rum
829 Naval Air Squadron was a submarine hunting squadron of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, flying Merlin Mk 2 helicopters from their base at RNAS Culdrose here in Cornwall. The squadron was decommissioned on March 28th 2018, merging with 814 squadron to create a Merlin “super squadron”. To commemorate 829 Naval Air Squadron, it’s officers commissioned commemorative bottles of rum from us which were re-labelled with the squadron’s kingfisher badge over an illustration of a Merlin flying over stormy seas, to be distributed amongst serving members of the squadron as keepsakes.
This is actually the fourth time that 829 squadron has been decommissioned, as it’s seen four different incarnations since its inception in 1940 when it was formed as a torpedo and reconnaissance squadron in Ford, Sussex, also operating out of St Eval in Cornwall for raids on the German Navy on the west coast of France. Between 1943 and 1944 the squadron was a torpedo bomber reconnaissance squadron covering the English Channel, before being amalgamated with another squadron and laying dormant for twenty years.
Reformed at RNAS Culdrose in 1964, 829 squadron was outfitted with medium-range helicopters armed with torpedos and assigned to frigates and destroyers as submarine hunters, taking off and landing from the decks of ships. The squadron saw action in both the Falklands War and the Persian Gulf War, before again being disbanded.
This latest incarnation of 829 squadron has been based at RNAS Culdrose, at Helston at the top of Cornwall’s beautiful Lizard peninsula, since 2004. Their role has been to track and chase Russian submarines from the back of Type 23 Frigates, as part of the UK’s nuclear deterrent.
It’s not uncommon for members of British military units to privately commission “limited edition” bottlings for special occasions, and not surprising that a Naval unit chose rum, given the strong historical ties (the Royal Navy only abolished the daily rum ration, also known as a tot, in 1970), but nonetheless it was really nice of the officers of 829 squadron to select a Cornish rum. We wish all of the members of 829 squadron well in their new posts in 814 squadron and in other roles elsewhere, and thank them for choosing Rathlee’s!
Photo credit © Aidan Riley & Darren Macdonald