Henry Erskine "Joe" Bodien



Born 26 October 1916 in Hackney
Son of Henry (RNAS, WW1) and Rosa (née Clare) Bodien
Shortly after his birth the family moved to Freshwater Bay on the Isle of Wight, where he lived until he joined the RAF
Two older sisters, Gaye & Vina, & a younger brother, John
Enlisted as a/c apprentice in 1933 at Halton, trained as fitter
Serving with 48 Coastal Sqn. when accepted for pilot training
Arriving at 6 OTU on 28 October 1940 as a Sgt.
Served with 151 Squadron flying Defiants
P/O on Prob., Gazetted 6 June 41, effective 1 May 1941
Confirmed as P/O & immediately made F/O (ws)
(War Substitute, Gaz. 16 June 42, effective 1 May 1942)
F/L (ws), Gaz. 9 July ‘43, effective 1 May 1943
Instructed at 51 OTU in 1943, he was promoted to S/L
& became commander of "B" flight, 151 Sq.
Posted to 21 Squadron (Mosquitos) 13 Feb 1944
Bombed Montdidier airfield 2 March 1944
Remained in the post-war RAF
F/L permanent Gaz. 26 March '46, effective 1 Sept. 1945
F/L seniority Gaz. 28 February '47, effective 1 Sept. 1945
S/L permanent Gaz. 5 August '47, effective 1 Aug.1947
Assigned to the USAF during 1950-51
Flew B-26 Invaders in the Korean War
C/O of 29 Squadron from 15 Aug. 1951 to 30 June 1952
Transferred to RCAF in London, 11 August 1954
Retired 6 July 1966 as W/C to live in Victoria.
In 1970, he took his family to Europe to travel
He worked as a civilian at CFB(E) Baden from 1972-78
They moved back to Canada in 1978
  Henry Bodien
It was in Kelowna, B.C were “Joe” passed away in June of 1999


BODIEN Henry Erskine, P/O (45720) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No. 151 Squadron
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 7 April 1942, 3rd supplement to Gazette of 3 April 1942

This officer has carried out many night patrols. As a night fighter pilot he has shown great devotion to duty and a complete disregard of danger. On one occasion, despite having trouble with his own aircraft, Pilot Officer Bodien kept up a series of attacks on an enemy aircraft for some 45 minutes and finally destroyed it.


His childhood nicknames were "Harry" or "Snowball" (because of his white-blond hair), but once he joined the RAF he was nicknamed "Joe", which stuck - that was what everybody called him for the rest of his life, even his wife - no one ever called him "Henry."
He often spoke of an idyllic childhood in Freshwater Bay.
He was a keen sailor and had originally intended to join the RN but was convinced (I believe by his father) to join the RAF, to be a pilot.
He flew Ansons during his short time with Coastal Command, based on Thorney Island. He was forced to ditch an Anson off the south coast when returning one night after a patrol, as extremely dense fog had set in and he was unable to see the cliffs to get over them, and they were running out of fuel. He and his crew were picked up by the Royal Navy ship "Kandahar", which had heard them going by while they were looking for a hole in the fog. He said the Navy guys were great, and that they gave them some rum to warm them up.
During the war, he married Cecile Morris, a WAF, and they had a son John, in 1946. Cecile passed away when John was quite small. As Joe was transferring to the RCAF he married Phyllis (Roberts) Bower (who had been married to AM Leslie Bower). They had a daughter, Amanda who was born in Ottawa in 1955.
Between 1947 and 1953, Joe was posted to Palestine (its unsure exactly what he did there but he had to take a special Commando self-defense course for it!), Rhodesia (as a flight instructor on Harvards), and to Hong Kong (at Kai Tak). Not necessarily in that order.
He left the RAF at the rank of Wing Commander, having been in that rank for a while.
In the 50's, the RCAF needed pilots, with night interdiction experience, to help set up their new CF-100 "Canuck" aircraft program. Affectionately - or not - the CF-100 was known as the "Clunk". He came to Canada, along with G/C "Bob" Braham. Apparently the "policy" was that while their experience was needed, they were told they had to relinquish their rank (drop down one), because as non-Canadians they could not assume command positions immediately - with the promise that in six months the rank would be restored. Several years later, he was reinstated as Wing Commander, but the RCAF promotion regulations of the time then deemed him "too old" for further advancement.
His first posting in Canada was to RCAF North Bay, Ontario, and in 1954 he was posted to 428 Sqn in Ottawa, Ontario which was equipped with CF-100s.
In 1957 he was posted to 410 Sqn (CF-100s) in St. Hubert, Quebec,  where he was reinstated as W/C.
Joe & Phyllis became Canadian citizens in 1961, having fulfilled the required five years' residency in Canada. That same year he was posted to RCAF 1 Wing, Marville, France, as COpsO (Chief Operations Officer), retiring from there, as a Wing Commander, in October, 1965.
At that time the family moved to Victoria, BC. In 1970 Joe, Phyllis & Amanda returned to Europe to do some travelling.
Joe worked as a civilian at CFB(E) Baden from 1972 - 1978 and returned to Canada in 1978. They spent a few years living in several provinces across Canada, finally settling in BC.                           - email from his daughter Amanda



"March 11 - W/Cdr Smith with F/O Marsh, and F/Lt Bodien with F/O Booker took off on a daylight Ranger, the first of its type to be attempted by the Squadron. Meteorological reports had indicated that there would be adequate cloud cover should shelter be required from the opposing forces. About 20 miles from the Dutch coast, the cloud became thin without giving any cover so both crews curtailed the operation and returned to base." - quoted from http://www.151squadron.org.uk/

"June 23 - P/O Humphries and P/O Lumb were lost over the Bay Of Biscay. Apparently, on returning from a patrol sortie, P/C Humphries misjudged his position in coming into formation with S/Ldr Bodien, as a result of which there was a collision. In the airborne tangle, a rubber dinghy became released from the fuselage of one of the aircraft, and wrapped itself around the rudder of S/Ldr Bodien's aircraft. P/O Humphries and P/C Lumb crashed into the sea and did not survive. S/Ldr Bodien and F/O Sampson returned safely to base. At the time it was felt that fatigue was responsible for the misjudgement, as this type of sortie, which involved total low level flying for long periods, was extremely tiring." - quoted from http://www.151squadron.org.uk/


BODIEN, Henry Erskine, S/L, DFC (45720, Royal Air Force) - Distinguished Service Order - No.21 Squadron
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 5 September 1944, 3rd supplement to Gazette of 1 September 1944

Since being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross this officer has completed a large number of sorties, many of them against difficult and dangerous targets. He has at all times displayed the highest standard of courage and resolution in pressing home his attacks and has inflicted much loss on the enemy. His leadership has been of a high order.


Victories Include :

4/5 Feb 1941
9/10 Apr 1941
3/4 May 1941

8/9 Sep 1942
17/18 Sep 1942
19 June 1943
one Do17z
one He111
one He111

one Do217
one Do217
one Ju88
destroyed [a]
destroyed [a]

damaged [c]
destroyed [c]
destroyed [d]
Defiant [b]


5 / 0 / 1

[a] Gunner was D E C Jonas
[b] Jonas, believing Henry dead, bailed out
[c] RO was Sgt (later F/O) Booker
[d] RO was F/O Sampson

[c] 8/9 Sept. - "F/Lt Bodien with Sgt Booker were orbiting a searchlight beacon when they were given "smack" instructions. This turned out to be fruitless, but as they were returning to their beacon they picked up a random contact and were instructed to investigate with caution as it may have been a friendly aircraft. The target was chased from west of Bedford to Clacton, and down to an altitude of 10000 ft from 15000 ft, where searchlights illuminated both aircraft. A Do 217 was identified at a range of about 60 yds. Having seen the Mosquito in the searchlight beams, the enemy aircraft took violent evasive action, but a burst of cannon fire from the Mosquito hit the Dornier's mainplane just outboard of the port engine. It then straightened up and a second burst was given from astern and above, hitting the mainplane just behind the port engine. The contact was lost due to searchlight dazzle, and the A.I. became unserviceable." - quoted from http://www.151squadron.org.uk/

[c] 17 Sept. - "F/Lt Bodien and Sgt Booker took off from Wittering and shortly after getting airborne, Langtoft G.C.I. took over and issued vectors, taking them to an altitude of 7000 ft where an A.I. contact was obtained. A successful interception soon gave a visual on a Do 217 as it passed from starboard to port. The Mosquito closed in slightly below, and as the enemy aircraft carried out evasive action, several short bursts of fire from the Mosquito hit the Dornier's port wing and port engine. The port engine then blew up and the enemy aircraft went down with both engines on fire. It crashed at Kings Lynn where wreckage was found the next day." - quoted from http://www.151squadron.org.uk/


Air Medal

Air Ministry, 25 May 1951 - The KING has granted unrestricted permission for the wearing of the undermentioned decorations conferred upon the officers indicated in recognition of valuable services rendered in connection with operations in Korea: CONFERRED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Air Medal
Wing Commander James Edgar JOHNSON, D.S.O., D.F.C. (83267), Royal Air Force
Squadron Leader Henry Erskine BODIEN, D.S.O., D.F.C. (45720), Royal Air Force


--- British Aces ---

--- Canadian Aces ---


See also



Thanks to Amanda (& Adrian) for the info & photo !


thanks go out to

the Bodien family,

On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research which includes info from numerous sources; newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC); the Google News Archives; the London Gazette Archives and other sources both published and private.

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