We are indebted to Scott P. M. Godefroy for this wonderful photo of No.401 Squadron RCAF at RAF Kenley on 21st January, 1943.
Wing Commander K. L.B. Hodson DFC is seated in the centre of the front row.
From left to right:
- Sergeant J. L.Becker
- Flying Officer H. A. Westhaver
- Flying Officer L. G. Coons
- Sergeant J. A. Chapin
- Flight Sergeant H. P. Coates
- Flight Lieutenant F. E. Grant, “A” Flight Commander
- Sergeant A. E. Gray
- Sgt. J. T. Paskiewicz (U.S.A.)
- Flight Sergeant A. C. Lewis-Watts
- Sergeant P. K. Gray
- Pilot Officer H. D. Macdonald
- Flight Lieutenant G. B. Murray DFC, “B” Flight Commander
- Flying Officer H. C. Godefroy
- Flight Lieutenant McArthur, Medical Officer.
- Flying Officer E. L. Gimbel (U.S.A.)
- Flight Sergeant F. B. Evans
- Sergeant C. B. Cohen
- Dave Neville, ground crew on distant Spitfire.
The date on the photo is 21st January, 1943, so we can surmise that the pilots hadn’t just put on their flying gear for a publicity shot. They took part in ‘Circus’ 252, Part II, that afternoon, escorting twelve Boston bombers targeting Triqueville aerodrome. The sortie was uneventful, with only a lone FW190 being seen North of LeHavre flying very low. No combat took place and the squadron returned to Kenley without loss.
Godefroy had seen more action the previous day, when he had been out on a patrol with “Dean” MacDonald.
“F/O H.C. Godefroy and P/O MacDonald took off from Kenley at 1225 hours on a routine patrol from Beachy Head to Shoreham. Godefroy sighted a formation of thirty-plus FW-190s coming out over the Channel at zero feet from the hills west of Newhaven. He states: ‘I climbed to 1000 feet and attacked an FW-190 on the extreme left of the formation from dead astern. I fired all my ammunition from 300 yards and saw strikes all over the tail and main-plane. At first he weaved gently and then turned slightly to port. I pulled up and observed P/O MacDonald hitting another FW-190 and as there was an FW-190 on his tail I ordered him to break off. The FW-190 [attacked by Godefroy] was seen to crash into the sea by four witnesses, including the aerodrome airman of the watch and the duty pilot at Friston.'”
(401 Squadron’s Operations Record Book)
F/L Harry Deane “Dean” MacDonald, DFC and Bar, was killed in action on 30th November 1943.
Hugh Constant Godefroy was born on 28th October, 1919, in Java, the son of Constant Godefroy, a mining engineer, and Permilla Maude McLachlin.
When Hugh was six, he was sent to boarding school in Toronto, along with his older brother. After a year as a bank clerk, Hugh studied engineering, until he joined the RCAF in June 1940. After completing his training, he was sent overseas to Britain in February 1941 and served his first tour of operations with 401 squadron RCAF.
F/O Godefroy arrived at Kenley on 12th November, 1942, to begin his second tour of operations with 401 squadron. When they were sent to Twelve group for a rest, he requested a transfer to 403 squadron, so he could stay in the thick of the action. His request was granted and he remained at Kenley, where, over the next year, he became leader of 403’s ‘B’ flight in March 1943, was awarded the DFC, and was then promoted to Squadron Leader in June. Not long after, his daughter Isabel was born. Finally, he took over from Johnnie Johnson, as Wing Commander Flying of 127 Wing, on 11th September, and was presented with his second DFC.
Godefroy didn’t quite succeed in extending his second tour of operations long enough to lead his men on D-Day. He was awarded the DSO in April 1944 and taken off ops. During his time at Kenley, Godefroy had destroyed seven enemy aircraft and damaged two. He returned to Canada with his Scottish wife Constance and baby daughter in August 1944.
Hugh studied to become a Doctor and graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University in Montreal.
His wife Connie, who he had met when she was a WAAF cypher officer at Biggin Hill, died in 1962.
In 1983, Godefroy published his memoir, ‘Lucky 13’, one of the most vivid accounts of life at RAF Kenley.
Wing Commander Hugh Constant Godefroy DSO, DFC & Bar, Croix de Guerre with Gold Star, died at his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, at the age of 82.
He was survived by his second wife, three sons, two daughters, thirteen grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.