Operation Status I

This was a British naval delivery of fighter reinforcements to Malta (8/10 September 1941).

On completion of ‘Substance’, the fighter strength of Malta was 85 serviceable aircraft, principally Hawker Hurricane single-seat fighters. It was then decided that after completing operations off Norway and the north coast of USSR, the elderly aircraft carrier Furious would make more ferry trips to Gibraltar and Malta. Furious therefore departed the Clyde river on 31 August with 61 Hurricane fighters as well as her own aircraft. The carrier was compelled to put in to Bangor, County Down, with defects, but sailed once more on 1 September to join the WS.11 convoy, escorted by the light anti-aircraft cruiser Cairo to 2 September, light cruiser Sheffield and destroyers Blankney, Garland (to 3 September), Lively and Free Polish Piorun (to 3 September), reaching Gibraltar on 7 September and then transferring 26 aircraft to the fleet carrier Ark Royal.

The latter sailed on 8 September escorted by the light anti-aircraft cruiser Hermione and destroyers Forester, Gurkha, Lance and Lively. Only one of the Bristol Blenheim light bombers allocated as guide aircraft made the rendezvous on 9 September, so only 14 Hurricane fighters were flown off, all of them reaching Malta.

The carrier returned to Gibraltar on 10 September to make a fast turn round for ‘Status II’.