Hitchin veteran given further accolade for bravery in Second World War

George Godfrey was awarded the Ushakov medal at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in London.

George Godfrey was awarded the Ushakov medal at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in London. - Credit: Archant

A veteran already decorated for his bravery in the Second World War has been given a further accolade to recognise his sterling service.

George Godfrey from Hitchin has been awarded Ushakov Medal by the Russian Embassy in London in a ceremony attended by 40 other veterans – including Cliff Potter from Letchworth, who was featured in the Comet last week.

Mr Godfrey joined the Royal Navy as a young boy, first attending Greenwich Naval College and then HMS Ganges at Shotley.

The 94-year-old’s first posting was to China on HMS Cumberland, but he was also involved in the evacuation of Dunkirk – aboard a Dutch skoot named The Hilda – and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for gallantry and devotion to duty.

After Dunkirk, he took part in a raid on the Lofoten Islands off Norway, and was then sent to South Africa.


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He served on HMS Sheffield, sister ship to HMS Belfast, and was awarded the Arctic Star by the British government for service on Arctic convoys – where he helped protect vessels shipping supplies to the Soviet Union.

After the war Mr Godfrey worked for a few years in Kent before taking up a caretaker role at the Bowes Lyon High School in Hitchin, now The Priory School.

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He met the late Queen Mother when she opened the school and remained there until his retirement.

Mr Godfrey’s son-in law Richard Fordham said: “He remembers severe storms with mountainous waves, which on one occasion smashed one of the big gun turrets.

“He also remembers the intense cold and constantly having to break the ice off the ship and the guns to prevent capsizing under the weight of the ice.

“He was very pleased to be invited to the ceremony, and particularly enjoyed meeting and chatting to other veterans. He was most appreciative of the hospitality shown by the embassy staff.”

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