Nicknamed “ROB or BOGIE”
Born: 1920, Kirton, Suffolk.
(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 fomation of enemy bombers was encounted. A Dornier was observed about 1,000 feet below him. He dived to the attack and destroyed it. Climbing through cloud, 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
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.
In May 1940, Pilot Officer Bodie, was serving with the 66 “Clickety-click” Squadron who 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 Heinkell 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. 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 for 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 watches his boots fall off revealing his bare feet still unable to free himself “it was very pathetic.” Bodie takes pity to the terrible plight and fires his guns, putting him out of his misery before the aircraft plunged 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
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 readers note:
A readers 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.