Operation Pot Luck

This was a British two-part naval operation by Rear Admiral A. W. La T. Bisset’s Escort Carrier Squadron of Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser’s Home Fleet against the movement of German shipping along the west coast of German-occupied Norway between Rørvik and Frohavet (12/16 May 1944).

Intended as a diversion for ‘Brawn’ farther to the north, the undertaking comprised the ‘Pot Luck Able’ and ‘Pot Luck Baker’ sub-elements. The result of the operation was probable damage to one and possible damage to three 4,000- to 6,000-ton merchant ships, as well as certain damage to two armed trawlers and a fish oil factory.

For the loss of just one British aeroplane, the undertaking also resulted in the shooting down of four Heinkel He 115 floatplanes, and damaged to one Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor long-range maritime reconnaissance aeroplane and one Messerschmitt Bf 110 heavy fighter.

The operation started on 12 May as the escort carriers Emperor and Striker, light cruiser Sheffield, light anti-aircraft cruiser Royalist, and destroyers Onslow, Obedient, Ursa, Wakeful and Free Polish Błyskawica and Piorun departed Scapa Flow in the Orkney islands group and steamed toward the Norwegian coast. The carriers reached their designated flying-off position at 12.20 on 14 May, by which time the force was being shadowed by German aircraft. Given the object of the operation as a diversion, this was all to the good.

The force then pulled back to the west, and came under attack by six to eight Bf 110 heavy fighters, which were driven off by Royalist’s anti-aircraft fire before the appearance of Hawker Sea Hurricane fighters from Striker finally persuaded them to jettison their bombs and head for home at high speed.

On 15 May, the force closed the Norwegian coast again, and at 04.25 a second strike of eight attack aircraft and seven fighters was launched. Failing to locate any convoy, these aircraft attacked the fish oil factory at Fosnavåg and two armed coasters. The attackers returned without loss and, with the weather threatening to turn worse, the force broke off the operation and turned back to the south-west, reaching Scapa Flow on 16 May.