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Hugh Godefroy - Dutch Ace.

Written by Almer Regter .

Wing Commander Hugh Constant Godefroy, DFO, DFC, Croix de Guerre in front of his "Spitfire".

The only Dutch ace in WWII was Hugh Godefroy. He was born in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) on 28 October 1919. His father was a Dutch mining engineer and his mother was Canadian. In 1925 the Godefroys moved to Canada and at the start of WWII Hugh was a student at university. A turning point came whenhe learned of the death of his girlfriend. The ship she was traveling onwas torpedoed by a German submarine, which made Hugh decide to join the RCAF to fight the Germans.

After completing flight training in Canada Godefroy was shipped to the UK where he joined No. 56 OTU at Suttonbridge, together with Poles, Czechs, Free French and Americans. In the spring of1941 Godefroy arrived to start operational duty in 11 Group, 401 Squadron RCAF at Digby. This squadron, equipped with the Hawker "Hurricane", was tasked with defense of the UK, with occasional offensive actions over France. In September 1941 the Squadron received the "Spitfire" Mk V and shortly afterwards 401 Sqn was moved to Biggin Hill. Although Hugh had flown anumber of operational sorties he was still considered a 'sprog' (greenhorn) by the veterans, having claimed no aerial victories. It seemed as if all his skills were needed just to stay out of the sights of Bf 109s and Fw 190s.

In 1942 Hugh was transferred to the Air Fighting Development Unit (AFDU) at Duxford. Initially he regarded his transition to a test unit as a demotion. But he learned to appreciate his new posting when he had the time to improve his deflection shooting and experiment with new escort tactics.

Near the end of 1942 Godefroy asked for andgot a posting at 403 Squadron RCAF. Shortly thereafter, he made his firstkill: a Fw 190. In June of 1943 he was promoted to 403's Squadron Leader. After some more kills he was promoted to Commander of 127 Wing.

Table of Godefroy's aerial victories:
No Date Type of enemy Place Unit
1. 17.01.1943 2 Fw 190 damaged Fecamp (F) 401 Sqn
2. 20.01.1943 Fw 190 Friston 401 Sqn
3. 08.03.1943 Fw 190 Bajeux, France 403 Sgn
4. 17.04.1943 Fw 190 Le Treport, France 403 Sqn
5. 13.05.1943 Bf 109 damaged Meaulte, France 403 Sqn
6. 14.05.1943 Fw 190 Oostende, Belgium 403 Sqn
7. 15.06.1943 Fw 190 Rouen, France 403 Sqn
8. 01.07.1943 Bf 109 Hesdin 403 Sqn
9. 24.09.1943 Fw 190 Poix 127 Wing
TOTAL 7 - 0 - 3

In April 1944 Godefroy's second tour of duty ended. He received the DSO and became a staff officer to the HQ of AVM Sir Harry Broadhurst, advising in tactical and personal affairs. He still flew frequently, but not in combat operations. On one of his flights during this period, the engine of his "Spitfire" stopped and he bailed out over the English Channel. Luckily he was rescued, and he spent some time recuperating in a hospital. The resigned and went back to Canada. By the summer of 1944 his war was over. During his career, Hugh Godefroy was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Distinguished Service Order and the Croix the Guerre.




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