CRELIN ARTHUR WALFORD BODIE

Nicknamed “ROB or BOGIE”

Born: 1920, Kirton, Suffolk.

Died: 24th February 1942; age: 21; a flying accident when his Spitfire IIA spun into the ground at Eglinton.

(image from the Evening Star newspaper 5th November 1940)

Residence: 166, Bramford Road, Ipswich.

Enlisted on a short service commission – October 1939.

 

Rank: Flight Lieutenant/Pilot; Service Number:42790.

Regiment: Royal Air Force, 152 Squadron.

 

Medals Awarded: Distinguished Flying Cross. Gazetted – 8th November 1940 – “great courage, skill and determination” in the performance of his duties.

 

Crelin was a ‘Battle of Britain’ Spitfire flying ace, winning many victories. He was officially credited with 7 aerial victories.

 

2nd November 1940        Birmingham Daily Post

Pilot Officer Crelin Arthur Walford Bodie – One day in September, when this officer was engaged on an offensive patrol with his squadron, a large formation of enemy bombers was encountered. A Dornier was observed about 1,000 feet below him. He dived into the attack and destroyed it. Climbing through clouds, he attacked unescorted Dornier 17’s, causing them to break formation. Pressing home his attack on the hostile aircraft in turn, he eventually caused them to crash into the sea. He has displayed great courage, skill and determination, and has destroyed at least six enemy aircraft.

2nd November 1940 – The Daily Mirror 

Grave Reference:

Saint Canice’s Churchyard,

Eglinton,

Londonderry,

Northern Ireland.

 

Relatives Notified & Address: Son of Henry Crelin Bodie & Elsie May Bodie, of 166, Bramford Road, Ipswich; husband of Joan Bodie, of Ipswich.

 

Father: Henry Crelin Bodie, born January 1883, Aberdeen, Scotland. A Dental Surgeon.

Mother: Elsie May Bodie (nee Smith), born April 1900, Rushmere St. Andrew, Suffolk.

 

Crelin was educated at St. Matthew’s School before moving up to Ipswich School.

 

On leaving school, he obtained a post with a commercial firm in London but gave this up a few weeks before the outbreak of war to train as a pilot.

 

http://www.ipswichschoolmuseumandarchives.co.uk

 

The Battle of Britain. 

In May 1940, Pilot Officer Bodie was serving with the 66 “Clickety-click” Squadron which moved several times in May and June. The Squadron moved from Duxford to R.A.F. Horsham (now Norwich Airport) on the 16th May. On the 29th R.A.F. Coltishall. With Bodie being eased into combat, his Squadron being tasked with patrolling the North Sea and the defence of Dunkirk, visiting Duxford and Martlesham. On the 4th June Bodie is recorded as flying in Spitfire P9431 as part of an Interception patrol out of Coltishall with two other Spitfires, continuing through to September, moving to R.A.F. Kenley raguly changing aircraft. In August, Bodie is recorded on the 19th with a probable kill of Heinkel 111. The 20th combat report Me110. 31st August he flew 3 times knocking out Do215 but had to force land his Spitfire K9823 at RAF Martlesham.

In early September, the Squadron moved to R.A.F. Kenley. On the 4th September the 66 Squadron lost five aircraft, Bodie had a reported kill when he faced 4 Me 109’s. On the 6th he reported hitting two aircraft downing one D017. On September 7th Bodie was reported as Missing after a German raid on the city of London. He lost contact with his Squadron, Being hit and damaged he was forced to pancake his aircraft at RAF Hawkinge with no working landing gear.

The Battle of Britain was in full swing with his Squadron moving to Gravesend, flying two to three times a day. At this point, the daily fight was taking its toll on the German bombers and Bodie is recorded as shooting down 3 aircraft in a day, being awarded the D.F.C. He recounts being exhausted saying “the day had been a year” and looking down on the people below, passing over redbrick schoolhouses with children at play, with bomb craters just two streets away “I was tired, I had done my best for them.” Through October, Bodie continued to down aircraft in the defence of England.

A book was written called “10 Fighter Boys” where he was described as a 19-year-old “decidedly unconventional in appearance” a colourful scarf around his neck, a large sheath knife tucked in his boot, a uniform which would not pass muster. His language is foul, “but possesses more character than anyone.” “A strong individualist.” Bodie and fellow fighter pilots would often go into town wearing their flight gear, gaining much respect, free drinks and ladies’ company.

He also described seeing a damaged German bomber, the pilot either dead or close to death in a fixed gaze. The aircraft in a slow glide down from 2,000 feet. He sees a gunner trapped in a hatch on the underside of the aircraft, just his legs dangling out unable to break free. As he flew behind, he watched his boots fall off revealing his bare feet still unable to free himself “It was very pathetic.” Bodie takes pity on the terrible plight and fires his guns, putting him out of his misery before the aircraft plunges into the ground. This disturbed him greatly.

On the 9th August 1941, at St. Mary’s Church, Sawston, Cambridgeshire, Crelin married Joan Eddowes, born 1920, Chorlton, Lancashire, an Aircraftwoman – daughter of Thomas Henry Eddowes, an oil proofer & May Eddowes (nee Stevenson), of 8, Agnew Road, Manchester, Lancashire.

Joan Bodie in 1944 in St Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec. Image courtesy of Michelle.

Bodie (left) with P/O JB Kendal at 66 Squadron

Courtesy of Gravesend Airport Heritage Project and  http://www.bbm.org.uk/airmen/Bodie.htm

 

Crelin is also remembered on the Chapel war memorial at Ipswich School.

24th February 1942

Aircraft: Spitfire IIA Serial number: P8077; Base: Portreath, Cornwall. The Spitfire spun into the ground at Eglinton during training.

A family note Joan:

In October 1945, Crelin’s widow, Joan, of 8, Agnew Road, Manchester, Lancashire re-married, at Burlington, Vermont, New England to Louis Charles Giles, of Limes Avenue, Bramford, Suffolk.

A reader’s note:
Facebook comments 2021:
Peter Keeble
I was a pupil together with my two younger brothers, from 1941 until 1945. I can not remember Crelin Bodie as a pupil at St. Matthew’s, although I do remember him flying his Spitfire low over the Bramford Rd area and we used to say “It’s Bodie again”.  To read some of his history I realise what a brave man he was.
Ian Johnson
In my 78 years on this earth, this is only the second person called Crelin that I have come across. My friend Crelin Self also lived in Bramford Road!
This chap lived about four doors down the road from my friend Crelin Self. That’s where Mrs Self got the name from! We used to joke that it was because she couldn’t spell cretin.
Family note from Bob:
Whilst I clearly never met him, I loved hearing stories about him as a boy. He used to often fly back over his home village upside down to let the villagers know he’d safely returned from a sortie. On seeing this they would rush to tell his mum that he’d safely returned.
A reader’s note:

My mother-in-law bought me a T-shirt for my birthday. It was a picture of a Spitfire, with the markings LZ F x4321. Thinking it was just a made-up number, I was very surprised and proud, that those Markings actually belong to, Crelin Arthur Walford Bodie. It’s been a privilege to read about this man’s career as a Spitfire pilot. RIP sir.

Mr. Trevor Parsons.

Commemorated in November 2020 on the Cornhill Ipswich in an exhibition. 

4 Comments

  • Crelin’s mum Elsie, was my grandmothers sister. So Crelin was my mother’s cousin. I guess my great cousin? I never met him…..but he was held dear in the hearts of all the family. I have enjoyed reading this article. Don’t know why I had never looked him up before.

    Reply
    • Hello Christine, so nice to hear that Crelin is still remembered, I’m a cousin on his dad, Henry’s side! The Bodie family are originally from Aberdeen, Henry moved down south as a young man where he spent the rest of his days, small world eh?

      Reply
    • Elsie married my Uncle Stanley (my mother’s brother) in 1957. I too have enjoyed reading this article and I’m proud to have a connection to Crelin. I have researched his name a few times and have read the book “Ten Fighter Boys” you may be aware of, in which WWII pilots tell their stories in their own words including Crelin who was nicknamed “Bogle”.

      Reply
  • Crelin was also my [sadly late] mother’s cousin (My mother was Rosie Studds’ daughter) My mum used to talk very fondly of Crelin.

    I am trying to get more information about his death. Some say an accident during training, whilst other state an issue while he was testing a new version of the Spitfire. His mother told my mother that it was sabotage but I’ve seen no other similar opinions.

    Whilst I clearly never met him, I loved hearing stories about him as a boy. He used to often fly back over his home village upside down to let the villagers know he’d safely returned from a sortie. On seeing this they would rush to tell his mum that he’d safely returned.

    I visited his grave a little over 20 years ago, and laid dried flowers on his grave, and the grave of two others. I recall all three dying within two days of each other. This seems to back up the theory of incidents whilst testing new aircraft.

    I very recently came in possession of a tankard that was presented to him from “The Old Sweats of Bodie’s Flying Circus” I look forward to drinking from it in his honour.
    RIP. Rob (Bob) C

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!
Scroll to Top