John Trevor "Johnny" Godfrey

RCAF  &  USAAF   Major

Silver Star x2
DFC x6 (9?)  & Air Medal x4 (5?)

Born in Montreal, Canada 28 March 1922.
Home in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
Attempted to join RCAF but brought home by authorities (3x).
Eventually, he was successful in August 1941.
(His parents finally relented)
He graduated in October 1942.
Posted to UK & 57 OTU.
Transferred to the USAAF in 1943.
He joined the famous 4th FG.
He & Don Gentile became a famous team of aces.
The duo were sent home on leave, May of 1944.
Gentile never returned but Johnny did briefly before being shot down by his wingman over Germany, 24 August 1944.
Captured, he remained a POW until war's end.
Later he was involved in politics until he learned he had ALS.
He said to reporters - "I guess the Lord was pretty kind to give me those extra 14 years to live. When I recall all the close ones, I feel pretty grateful and lucky for the extension."
He died of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), 12 June 1958.
He was married and had two sons.

  Johnny Godfrey


Toronto Officer Says U.S. Ace 'Doesn't Know How He Does It’

A United States Fighter Base, England, 10 April 1944 - (AP) - Capt. Don S. Gentile, the leading United States Air Force ace in the European war theatre, makes the job of mowing down Nazi planes sound as easy as picking birds off a fence.
Asserting in an interview that he believed the Germans - apparently short of experienced fighter pilots - are sending up novices with one veteran to lead them through combat, the 23-year-old airman added:
"The Germans always seem to fly in twos or fours, strung out in a line, and they keep right behind the leader no matter what happens - as if they are afraid to branch off."
Gentile, who has destroyed 20 planes in the air, with claims of three more pending, in addition to seven destroyed on the ground, willingly acknowledges his debt to his wing man, Lt. Johnny Godfrey, 21, who has 16 kills himself.
Godfrey flies behind him, either to the right or left. Gentile keeps tabs on him by asking every few seconds over the radio phone: "Are you still with me, Johnny? Are you still with me, Johnny?" Any German flier who understands English can hear them calmly plotting his doom.
"You break to the starboard," Gentile will call out, "and 1'll hesitate and if he follows you around I'll follow him and we'll have him right between us”
While Gentile was musing about his Technique, his squadron commander, Major James Goodson of Sultan St., Toronto, a fellow graduate of the R.A.F., said: "Don doesn't know how he does it. He was just born with the knack - and he does it."


Johnny Godfrey & Don Gentile
Johnny Godfrey & Don Gentile

Teamwork Spelled Victories And Survival for American Ace

EIGHTH AIR FORCE FIGHTER BASE. England, 23 April 1944, By CAPT. DON S. GENTILE, As Told to Ira Wolfert - (By Wireless) - When the bell rang for the big fight against Hitler's Luftwaffe last February our twenty-six-year-old Col. Donald Blakeslee, another Ohio boy, led into action as fine a team as I think any nation has ever been able to gather together.
The boys had a lot of natural ability; most of them had been so eager to fly that they had joined the RAF or the RCAF before we had got into the war. Now their ability was tempered with experience.
There is a pretty good test of the confidence of a group in the amount of money the individuals in it save. Col. Don Blakeslee’s group stands high in allotments sent home.

Measure of Confidence
As a measure of my own confidence, I have been living on an average of about a dollar and a half a month since I got over here and have been banking the rest to carry me through the lean, job-hunting days I expect after the war.
We started the offensive battles with 106 German aircraft destroyed to our credit, and by March 17 the group score had mounted to 200. By the second week in April we had 434 to our credit and were top scorers for the whole European Theater of Operations. In the month from March 17 to April 16, we got more than twice as many German airplanes as we had in the two years of 1942 and 1943.
In my own case, I shot down fifteen Germans from March 3 to April 1.
I picked the best man I could get to fly on my wing - Johnny Godfrey of Woonsocket, R.I., who doesn't like Germans. They killed his brother, Reggie, at sea, and the name Johnny has painted on his plane is "Reggie's Reply." He means it, too.
Johnny and I spent twenty minutes over Berlin on March 8 and came out of there with six planes destroyed to our credit. I got a straggler and Johnny got one, and then I got another one fast. A Hun tried to out-turn me, and this was a mistake on his part. Not only cannot a Messerschmitt 109 out-turn a Mustang in the upstairs air, but even if he had succeeded, there was Johnny back from his kill and sitting on my tail waiting to shoot him down.
After two Huns had blown up and another had bailed out, Johnny and I formed up tight and went against a team of two Messerschmitts.

I’ll Take The Port One
"I’ll take the port one and you take the starboard one." I told Johnny, and we came in line abreast and in a two-second burst finished off both of them.
Then a Messerschmitt bounced Johnny. Johnny turned into him and I swung around to run interference for him. The Hun saw me and rolled right under me before I could get a shot in. But Johnny had fallen into formation right on my wing and he took up the shooting where I had left off. He put more bullets into the Hun while I was swinging up and around to run interference for him. Then he said his ammunition had run out and I said. "Okay, I'll finish him," and I followed the Nazi down into the streets, clobbering him until he bailed out.


Gentile's Flying Mate Downs 17th Nazi Plane in Combat

LONDON, 1 May 1944 - (AP) - Lieut. John T. Godfrey of Woonsocket, R.I., flying mate of Capt. Don S. Gentile of Piqua, Ohio, bagged his seventeenth Nazi plane in the air today - one of three claimed by fighter pilots in today's sweep over the Continent.
The Mustang pilot went after three German planes pestering a formation of Fortresses and chased one to earth.
In addition to his seventeen planes shot down he is credited with destroying six planes on the ground and shared on Sunday in the destruction of two others on the ground.
Captain Gentile is credited with twenty-three planes in the air and seven aground.
Lieut. Frank Jones Jr., of Montclair, N.J., bagged one of the three Nazi planes today. He said the Me-109 he attacked crashed and burned in the center of a German village.
The other enemy craft was shared by three Thunderbolt pilots.


Captain Don Gentile Returns Home

LONDON, 5 May 1944 - (INS) - Capt. Don Gentile, leading American aerial ace, with a total of 30 enemy planes to his credit, has returned to the United States on a 30-day leave, headquarters of the European theater of operations announced yesterday. He was accompanied by his wing man, Lt. John Godfrey.


Gentile & Godfrey
Captains Gentile & Godfrey (photo from leisuregalleries)

Commander and Wingman Run Up Scores by Sticking Together
Pair of Aces Reports to Capital
Gentile, Godfrey On Way Home; Bag Is Over 40 Planes

WASHINGTON, 19 May 1944 - (AP) - The flying firm of Gentile and Godfrey which has destroyed more than two score Nazi planes made a report to the Capital today.
At a joint press conference, Captain Don S. Gentile, deputy squadron commander of an Eighth Air Force group, and his wingman, Captain John T. Godfrey, each agreed that he wouldn't be alive without his partner's aid and that his score of enemy planes wouldn't be as high.
Gentile is a resident of Piqua, O., and Godfrey's home is Woonsocket, R.I. Both are of almost the same age, Gentile 23 and Godfrey 22.
Discussing the teamwork necessary for the ground strafing and air fighting tactics in which they specialize, Gentile said: "Every time I went out on my own without a good wingman, I got shot up. It was the same with Godfrey, so we decided we'd better stay together."
Godfrey said he got about 21 or 22 planes while flying with Gentile and the latter estimated his score at about 22 or 23 while Godfrey was flying as his wingman. Gentile is credited with destroying a total of 30 enemy planes, 23 of them shot down in combat.
Gentile's decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross with seven oak leaf clusters and the Air Medal with three clusters. Godfrey's decorations include the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross with six clusters and the Air Medal with three clusters.
Both men plan to leave for their respective homes sometime tomorrow.


Lionized Yank Aces Want To Get Back Into Action

New York, May 28 - (AP) - Captains Don Gentile and John Godfrey, the American aces whose one-two aerial punch has yielded them a combined bag or 59 nazi planes, today climaxed their first visit to the nation's metropolis with a broadcast in which they said they were anxious to return to action in "the big league."
The two filers were interviewed on a radio program.
"I'd like to get back to the big leagues and try my luck again," said Gentile, the Piqua, Ohio, youth who is leading ace of the European theater with 30 planes.
"And if I could have Johnny as my wingman, that would be perfect," he added.
Godfrey, resident of Woonsocket, R.I., who was wing pilot to Gentile and runner-up to him in planes downed with 29, said, "That goes double for me."


Only Five of Old Eagle Squadron are Left

From BETTY KNOX, 12 June 1944 - The Old Eagle Squadron hatched a brood of fledgling flyers and pushed them out of the nest in the fighter-bomber Mustang on D-Day.
Only five of the original Eagle Squadron are left now. Once there were 75 members of the unit that flew with the R.A.F. before America entered the war.
Don Blakeslee's fighter group, transferred to the U.S.A.A.F. in the fall of 1942. It is the highest scoring group in the U.S. Air Force, having accounted for 200 enemy airplanes in the air and 186 on the ground in the three months before D-Day.
Of the five veterans who remain, only three flew with the old outfit on "D" day.
The bulk of the squadron is made up of relatively new boys. Some of them in fact arrived the day before "D" day; since then these 19 and 20-year-olds, young in comparison with the old hands, are now flying from one to three missions a day.
In the ranks of Blakeslee's group are four of America's top five Fighter aces, none of whom has less than 27 kills to his credit. They are: Major James A. Goodson, with 30; Captain Don Gentile, with 30; Captain John Godfrey, with 29; and First Lieutenant Ralph Hofer, with 29.
The fifth, Major Bob Johnson, with 27, flies a Thunderbolt.
D-Day was an unlucky day for three of the big five.
After flying in all the major shows since the tough old days, Gentile, Godfrey and Johnson could not keep the most important date in their flying lives, because they were on long-overdue leave in the United States.

As for Lieutenant Hofer, D-Day was different.
Two enemy troop trains did not get where they were going, or anywhere, because at 7 a.m. Hofer stopped them - with our bombs.
Major Goodson says it was a good day considering everything. With Goodson, "everything" includes almost not getting back. But he thinks he's pretty lucky. He is the only one of the five aces who is in Britain today.
That is because yesterday Hofer crash-landed on an emergency strip on the Allied beach-head. Hofer is doing O.K.


Johnny Godfrey

Godfrey Lifts Total Of Nazi Planes to 36

U.S. AIR COMMAND HEADQUARTERS, England, 24 Aug. 1944 – (UP) - Capt. John T. Godfrey, Mustang fighter pilot of Woonsocket, R. I., shot up four JU-52's on a German airdrome today to bring his score of enemy aircraft destroyed to thirty-six, the highest total of enemy planes destroyed on the ground and in the air for any Eighth Air Force Fighter Command pilot.
Godfrey hit the four at an airdrome in the heart of Germany during an escort mission with heavy bombers. Other pilots with him knocked out four other planes.
Since he returned from leave in the United States, ten days ago, Godfrey has added ten planes to his score, eight of them by ground strafing, and he now has destroyed eighteen on the ground and an equal number in air combat.


34 Army Air Force Aces Have Score of 15 or More
Maj. Bong Leads List with 40 Enemy Planes; Colonels Gabreski, Lynch Also Included

WASHINGTON, 22 Dec. 1944 (UP) — An honor roll of 34 Army Air Force fighter aces, each of whom has destroyed 15 or more enemy planes in combat, was issued by the War Department today and at the top of the list was Maj. Richard I Bong, of Poplar, Wis.
Among them, they have shot down a total of 689¼ German and Jap planes.
The Eighth Air Force, which operates in Europe against the Germans, had the most aces — 13 — with scores of 15 or better kills. The Fifth Air Force, operating in the Southwest Pacific, was next with 10, but it boasted the two top men - Maj. Bong and Maj. Thomas B. McGuire, of San Antonio, Tex., who has bagged 30 Jap planes.
Next in line were the 15th Air Force which operates in the Mediterranean and has four aces in the select circle; the Ninth which operates in Europe and has three top-ranking aces, and the 13th (based in the South Pacific) and the 14th (based in China) each with two.
Maj. Bong is credited with 38 kills but since the list was tabulated Dec. 15, he has run his bag to 40.
Other high ranking fighter pilots and their scores were:

Lt. Col. Francis S. Gabreski, of 95 Spruce St., Oil City, Pa., Eighth A.F., 28 (POW in Germany)
Maj. Robert S. Johnson, Lawton, Okla., Eighth A.F., 27.
Maj. George E. Preddy, Greensboro, N.C., Eighth A.F., 24.
Capt. Don S. Gentile, Piqua, O., Eighth A.F., 23.
Maj. Gerald T. Johnson, Eugene, Ore., Fifth A.F., 23.
Maj. Fred J. Christensen Jr., Watertown, Mass., Eighth A.F., 22.
Col. Neel E. Kearby, Dallas. Tex., Fifth A.F., 22. (Missing in action).
Col. Glenn E. Duncan, Houston, Tex., Eighth A.F., 21 1/2 (Missing in action).
Capt. John J. Voll, Goshen, O., 15th A.F., 21.
Maj. Walker M. Mahurin, Fort Wayne, Ind., Eighth A.F., 21.
Maj. Jay T. Robbins, Coolidge, Tex., Fifth A.F., 21.
Lt. Col. Robert B. Westbrook, Hollywood, Cal., 13th A.F., 20.
Col. Charles H. MacDonald, St. Petersburg. Fla., Fifth A.F., 20.
Lt. Col. Thomas J. Lynch, of Catasauqua, Pa., Fifth A.F. 26, (killed in action)
[Col. Lynch was an engineering student at the University of Pittsburgh and was graduated in
1940. His widow, a Swissvale resident, was the former Rosemary Fullen, of 7368 Schley Ave.]

Col. Hubert Zemke, Missoula, Mont., Eighth, 19 1/2.
Lt. Col. David C. Schilling, Traverse City, Mich., Eighth, 19.
Col. David L. Hill, Victoria, Tex., 14th A.F., 18 1/2.
Capt. John T. Godfrey, Woonsocket, R. I., Eighth, 18 (prisoner of war in Germany).
Lt. Col. Herschel H. Green, Mayfield, Ky., 15th A.F., 18.
Capt. Duane W. Beesen, Boise, Ida., Eighth, 18 (prisoner of war in Germany).
Maj. Walker Carl Beckham, Defuniak Springs, Fla., Eighth, 18 (prisoner of war in Germany).
Maj. Don M. Beerbower, Hill City, Minn., Ninth A.F., 17 1/2 (killed in action).
Capt. James S. Varnell, Charleston, Tenn., 15th, 17.
Capt. Cyril F. Homer, Sacramento, Cal., Fifth, 17.
Maj. Edward Cragg, Cos Cob, Conn., Fifth, 17 (missing in action).
Capt. Glen T. Eagleston, Alhambra, Cal., Ninth, 16 1/2.
Lt Col. William N. Reed. Marion, Ia., 14th, 16 1/2.
Maj. George S. Welch, Wilmington, Del., Fifth, 16.
Lt. Col. Richard E. Turner, Bartlesville, Okla., Ninth, 16.
Maj. Samuel J. Brown, Tulsa, Okla., 15th, 15 1/2.
Maj. Bill Harris, Springville, Cal., 13th A.F., 15.
Capt. Richard A. Peterson, Alexandria, Minn., Eighth, 15.


Victories Include :

29 Nov 1943
1 Dec 1943

22 Dec 1943
5 Jan 1944
2 Mar 1944
6 Mar 1944

8 Mar 1944
16 Mar 1944
23 Mar 1944
29 Mar 1944

4 Apr 1944

9 Apr 1944

22 Apr 1944
24 Apr 1944

29 Apr 1944

30 Apr 1944
1 May 1944
5 Aug 1944

6 Aug 1944
24 Aug 1944
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109
1.5 Me109s
one FW190
one FW190
one Me109
one FW190
2.5 Me109s
one Me110
one Me109
one FW190
1/3 He111
one FW190
one Ju88
one Me110
one Ju88
one Me410
  3  Me109s
one FW190
one FW190
one Do217
two Ju52s
.75 seaplanes
one Me109
one Me109
  3  Ju52s
one Me410
four Ju52s
destroyed &
destroyed &
destroyed &
destroyed OTG
destroyed OTG
destroyed &
destroyed OTG
destroyed OTW
destroyed OTG
destroyed OTG

16.33 / 2 / 5


Johnny Godfrey

plus 11.75 On The Ground


No. 2 Fighter Ace Of Last War Dies In R.I. of Sclerosis

FREEPORT, Maine. 12 June 1958 - (AP) - John T. Godfrey, 37, the nation's second-ranking World War II flying ace, died in his home today of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Dr. Ralph E. Williams Jr. of Freeport said the former Rhode Island legislator died from continued weakening caused by the incurable illness.
Before being stricken, the hulking six-footer carried on a running battle with Pentagon brass over his actual record of kills. Godfrey claimed 36 definites, 18 on the ground and 18 in the air, and had a certificate from his commanding officer to prove it. The Air Force, according to Godfrey, was "dead wrong" in crediting him with only 29.
The late Maj. Richard I. Bong is credited with the record - 40 kills.


Related Sites :

Godfrey at USfighter


Thanks go out to

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.

Some content on this site is probably the property of acesofww2.com unless otherwise noted.     Mail