Stewart James Godfrey

Biography of Stewart James Godfrey

Stewart James Godfrey was a pilot officer in the RAF when he died in 1944. In 2019, he was revealed to be the unknown soldier of Lordonnois, a village in the Auxerre region of France.

Born in Barrhead on the 24th June 1913, Godfrey was the son of Stewart Thomas Godfrey, a foreman blacksmith. The family lived at Knowes Cottage, Glenfield, Paisley.

Godfrey was due to begin an MA in 1939 when he was conscripted. He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve as a pilot officer.

On the 3rd May 1944, Bomber Command sent nearly 350 planes, carrying 1500 tonnes of bombs, over the military camp at Mailly, near to Reims. By the end of the raid, 249 airmen were dead and 44 planes were lost. Fifty five men survived, captured by the Germans or found by the Resistance. With no news of Godfrey, the RAF communicated his death of the 24th June 1944.

In fact, Godfrey had managed to bail out and deploy his parachute. He was found by a couple called Racine, and was hidden by the Resistance close to Romilly-sur-Seine with other American and British pilots. On the 20th June, he was with a group of 350 Resistance fighters who were attacked by one thousand German soldiers close to Saint-Mard-en-Othe. Godfrey managed to escape and make it to Chailley.

On the night of the 22nd June, Godfrey was travelling with three French men when their car was hit by German machine gun fire. The driver was gravely injured, but escaped. One of the other men was killed and Godfrey was taken prisoner.

The next day, his wrists shackled and without shoes, Godfrey was travelling to Auxerre to be imprisoned. As the convoy of trucks slowed down at the edge of the village of Lordonnois, Godfrey managed to suddenly break free and made for the nearest woodland. He was hit by 10 bullets. It was the day before his 31st birthday.

His body was found on the 26th June, and was secretly transported to the church at Lordonnois. When his pockets were searched, they found English matches.

Stewart James Godfrey was interred in the cemetery in Lordonnois as an unknown soldier. Over the years, secrets of the war faded from memory, and the village of Lordonnois believed that a French WWI soldier lay in the grave.

He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey.


Stewart James Godfrey
Died 24 June 1944.
University Link: Student
GU Degree: Arts, 1939-40;
Father's Details: Stewart Thomas Godfrey; Foreman blacksmith
War Service: Pilot Officer, Royal Air Force
Grave / Memorial: Runnymede Memorial, England
View Commonwealth War Graves Commission record
Record last updated: 15th Jan 2020

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