Harry Godfrey

Sergeant, 38 Squadron
Service number 906079
Died 21 Jun 1941
Commemorated on Alamein Memorial
Age 22

Harry was born on 14 February 1919 and was known in the family as Val as he was born on St Valentines Day. His English born father John was originally named Jacob Goldberg and his mother Anna Swerin was born in Poland. Harry was the eldest of five children, Toby, Monica, Jacqueline and Raymond who was born two years after Harry’s death.

Harry was educated at Fulham Central School and Westminster City School where he was a prefect and an accomplished all-round sportsman where he achieved distinction in football, cricket, high jump and long jump. He attended the Hammersmith Hebrew classes and was a member of the Hammersmith Company Jewish Lad’s Brigade. In 1938 Harry joined the ARP Service but once war was declared in 1939 he enlisted in the RAF at Uxbridge. In 1939 the family lived at 7 St Dunstan’s Road, Fulham and Harry worked as a clerk for a chartered accountant before he enlisted. An article written about the family in the Jewish Chronicle is available here.

After training as a wireless operator and air gunner at the Operational Training Unit at RAF Bassingbourn he was transferred with the rank of Sergeant to 38 Squadron. In November 1940 the squadron was transferred to Egypt as a front-line bomber force engaged in direct attacks on Axis positions in Libya, Italy and the Balkans and attacks on the Axis supply routes across the Mediterranean.

Harry was the wireless operator/air gunner on Wellington T2748 which departed from RAF Shallufa for operations over Benghazi. On the return journey the aircraft was hit by enemy fire and the crew baled out. Only two crew survived and Pilot Officer Rainford advised that he saw the aircraft on fire as it crashed into the desert.

Sergeant, David Aubrey Connolly, 401457, killed
Flight Sergeant, Henry Lilley, 518242, killed
Pilot, Cyril George Ellery Newton, 754624, killed
Harry Godfrey, 906079, killed

P/O Rainford, survived
Sgt Barclay, survived

Photograph by kind permission of Michael Greisman. ‘Jews in Uniform’ ISBN 978-I-5262-0727-2
Godfrey Family Story in the Jewish Chronicle
1939 Register
38 Squadron O.R.B.