Distinguished Service Medal, GVI (TEMP. A.P.O. (A) FAA); 1939-1945 Star; Atlantic Star with France and Germany Clasp; War Medal.
A.P.O. (A) J. PERRY.
Awarded for the sinking of U-288 in the Barents Sea on 3rd of April 1944. Perry flew in a Swordfish of 819 Naval Air Squadron operating from the escort carrier HMS Activity which was escorting Arctic Convoy JW58 between 27th March and 4th April 1944. On 3rd April 1944, his aircraft was on a routine patrol in the early morning whilst to the west of Bear Island in the Barents Sea. The crew thought they had spotted a suspected periscope at 0345 hours and after dropping a tea marker they loitered around the area, but nothing more was seen. At 0500 hours the patrol was nearing its conclusion but decided to return to the area they had dropped the marker for a final check before returning to HMS Activity. The diversion paid off, and at 0521 hours they spotted U-288, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Willy Meyer, on the surface only six miles away. Perry sent a signal calling for assistance and they were soon joined on the scene by two other aircraft, an Avenger and a Wildcat, from 846 Naval Air Squadron aboard the convoy’s other escort carrier, HMS Tracker. The U-Boat decided to fight it out on the surface and the Wildcat attacked first firing 1,300 rounds at it. The Avenger followed, but was unable to release its depth charges. The Swordfish then made its attack, loosing off seven of its eight RP-3 rockets, most if not all of which struck into U-288. Despite evasive manoeuvres by the submarine, she was now dead in the water and beginning to settle, and was then finally finished off by a second pass from the Avenger, which now managed to release its depth charges. The U-Boat blew up in seconds, killing all 49 crew on board, and disappeared into the Barent’s Sea southeast of Bear Island.
Perry’s Swordfish, LS373 ‘C’ of 819 Squadron, was piloted by Lieutenant Stanley Brilliant, who later became well known to the Jewish public for organising the annual Ajex parade – the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen’s parade. The aircraft was also crewed by a Sub Lieutenant Harry Chadwick, the observer. Both would win the Distinguished Service Cross for this incident.
This was the first U-Boat sunk by a Swordfish of 819 Naval Air Squadron. One of the crew’s of the two aircraft from Tracker who had participated in the kill, managed to obtain images of the attack, and these are now visible online and in the collection of the Imperial War Museum.
Convoy JW58 consisted of 47 merchant ships departing from Loch Ewe headed for the Kola Inlet, North Russia. It also included the US cruiser USS Milwaukee, which was being transferred to the Soviet navy as part of an agreement over the disposal of the surrendered Italian fleet. The convoy was joined from Iceland by three more ships en route from North America. Close escort was provided by a force led by Lt.Cdr Lambton in the destroyer Westcott. The force comprised two other destroyers and three corvettes. The force was supported by two escort carriers, Activity and Tracker and an “Ocean escort” of 17 fleet destroyers led by R.Adm. F. Dalrymple-Hamilton in the cruiser Diadem. JW 58 was joined by the 2nd Support Group, the navy’s most successful anti-submarine warfare group, consisting of five sloops led by Capt. Frederick Walker in Starling. The convoy was accompanied initially by local escort groups from Britain and Iceland, joined later by a local escort group from Murmansk. Distant cover was provided by ships of the Home Fleet which were engaged in Operation Tungsten, an air strike against the German battleship Tirpitz anchored in Alta fjord. These were the battleships Duke of York, Anson, the carrier Victorious, the cruiser Belfast and six destroyers under the command of Vice-Admiral Bruce Fraser.
Ranged against this force were the U-boats of the German arctic flotilla, 16 boats forming the patrol lines Blitz, Hammer and Thor. German surface forces and air forces were much diminished at this stage of the conflict.
It was on the 3rd April that the Swordfish from HMS Activity attacked U-288. Also on the 3rd April, Convoy JW 58 was joined by the eastern local escort, four Soviet destroyers, and on 4th April arrived at Kola without further incident.
In all, three U-boats were destroyed and six aircraft were shot down during the defence of Convoy JW58. With the safe arrival of so many ships and the destruction of three U-boats, plus a fourth incidental kill and six shadowing aircraft, JW 58 was one of the most successful Arctic convoys run by the Allies during the war. JW 58 was the last Arctic convoy for several months as the Navy became involved in Operation Neptune.
In all 13 awards were given to the Fleet Air Arm personnel aboard Activity for the defence of Convoy JW 58. Five Distinguished Service Crosses, one Distinguished Service Medal, and seven Mention in Despatches. Perry’s award, the only Distinguished Service Medal, was announced in the London Gazette for 18th July 1944, and he was presented with his award in an investiture held on 28th November 1944.