John Godwin (Royal Navy officer)

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John Godwin
Born (1919-12-13)13 December 1919
Buenos Aires, Argentina
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Sachsenhausen concentration camp
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Rank Temporary Lieutenant RNVR
Unit No. 14 (Arctic) Commando
Awards World War II
Operation Checkmate

Temporary Lieutenant John Godwin, RNVR (13 December 1919[1] - 2 February 1945) was a British soldier. Born and brought up in Argentina, he took part in a raid named Operation Checkmate on Axis shipping near Haugesund, north of Stavanger, Norway.[1] His party managed to sink a minesweeper and a number of steamers using limpet mines, but he was eventually captured with the rest of his party, a commando sergeant, two Naval Petty Officers and three seamen. After spending some time in Grini concentration camp, they were sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where contrary to the Geneva Convention, they were forced to march 30 miles a day on cobbles testing army boots.

On 2 February 1945 they were led to execution, in accordance with Hitler's Commando Order of 1942. Godwin managed to wrestle the pistol of the firing party commander from his belt and shot him dead before being himself shot. No superior officer witnessed this act so a decoration could not be awarded. However, his bravery was mentioned in dispatches (posthumously). The citation, in The London Gazette, 9 October 1945, read: "For great gallantry and inspiring example whilst a prisoner of war in German hands in Norway and afterwards at Sachsenhausen, near Oranienburg, Germany, 1942-1945".[2]


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  2. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37299. p. 4954. 5 October 1945. Retrieved 31 December 2010.