Operation Railway II

This was a British naval delivery of fighter aircraft to Malta (29 June/1 July 1941).

On the return of the fleet carrier Ark Royal to Gibraltar after ‘Railway I’, the older carrier Furious transferred another 26 Hawker Hurricane fighters, retaining 16 on her own flightdeck, and both carriers then departed on 29 June for another delivery to Malta. The carriers were escorted by elements of Vice Admiral Sir James Somerville’s Gibraltar-based Force ‘H’, namely the battle-cruiser Renown, light anti-aircraft cruiser Hermione and destroyers Faulknor, Fearless, Forester, Foxhound, Fury, Lance and Legion.

As her aircraft were being launched on 30 June, Furious suffered a serious flightdeck accident when the tenth aeroplane struck the carrier’s island and exploded as it was taking off, also causing 14 casualties including several pilots. So when both carriers returned to Gibraltar there were still six Hurricane fighters on Furious, and these were landed at Gibraltar.

All the 35 aircraft successfully launched reached Malta, being guided by six Bristol Blenheim light bombers.

Furious then sailed for the UK on 4 July escorting the 16,297-ton Cameronia and 19,730-ton Scythia, both serving as troopships, accompanied by the destroyers Fury, Lance, Legion and Wishart, and joined on 9 July by the light cruiser Edinburgh. On the same day the battleship Royal Sovereign and the Free Polish destroyer Piorun relieved the earlier escort, and proceeded with the convoy to the Clyde river, where they arrived on 12 July.