Pilot Officer Crelin Arthur Walford Bodie joined the Royal Air Force on a short service commission in October 1939.
Bodie was born in Kirton, Suffolk in 1920 and attended Ipswich School. On completion of his flying training, he joined RAF 66 Squadron at Duxford, England in May 1940. From 1938, 66 Squadron had been one of the first to fly the new Spitfire aircraft.
He was the son of Henry Crelin Bodie and Elsie May Bodie of Ipswich, Suffolk. Henry was born in 1883 and Elsie May (née Smith) in April 1900 in Rushmere St Andrew, Suffolk. In 1941, he married Joan Eddowes in Cambridge, United Kingdom. By then he was already a decorated Spitfire ace from the Battle of Britain.
Bodie in the Battle of Britain
On 8th July 1940, he claimed his first kill; a Heinkel HE111. A second Heinkel followed on 19th August and two Messerschmitt ME110 the following day. He rounded off August 1940 with a hit on a Dornier DO17 on 31st.
Pilot Officer Bodie was a respected ace in the Battle of Britain, registering the destruction of the following planes.
- Destroyed HE111 (2nd September)
- Probable destroyed ME109 (4th September)
- Damaged two ME109s (6th September)
- Destroyed HE111 (11th September)
- Destroyed two DO17s (15th September)
- Destroyed HE111 (18th September)
- Probable destroyed ME109 (24th September)
- Damaged JU88 (5th October)
- Destroyed ME109 (11th October)
- Probable destroyed two ME109s (12th October)
- Probable damaged two ME109s (12th October)
- Destroyed ME109 (13th October)
- Destroyed ME109 (25th October)
- Destroyed ME109 (14th November)
Pilot Officer Bodie’s time in the Battle of Britain was not without incident. On 5th September 1940, he flew Spitfire Mk I X4321 from RAF Kenley. He engaged two BF109s, damaged his plane forcing a belly-land near Banhurst Lane, Hawkinge. He was uninjured and the plane repaired.
Exactly one month later, he encountered a BF109 over Tenterden. The Luftwaffe Messerschmitt shattered Bodie’s Spitfire windscreen. Once again, the pilot was unhurt.
Bodie was one of the first pilots along with Flight Lieutenant George Christie to make a Mosquito Spitfire sortie over France. An airfield was attacked and ground targets strafed on 20th December 1940. Neither pilot encountered any aerial opposition.
Bodie received the Distinguished Flying Cross, mentioned in the Gazette on 8th November 1940. The following March, he was posted to RAF 301 Squadron as Flight Commander at Duxford. In June 1941, he was posted again to Royal Air Force 152 (Hyderabad) Squadron at Portreath.
A fatal accident in Northern Ireland
At the age of only twenty-one, Bodie was involved in a fatal incident in Northern Ireland. On 24th February 1942, his Spitfire Mk IIA P8077 spun out of control near RNAS Eglinton. By this time, Bodie was Flight Commander of B Flight. He had been practicing aerobatics over RNAS Eglinton when he lost control of the Spitfire. The plane came down near the airfield and Bodie was instantaneously killed and the aircraft was written off.
Crelin Arthur Walford Bodie’s grave is in St. Canice’s Church of Ireland Churchyard, Faughanvale, Eglinton, Co. Londonderry.