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The Papers of Admiral John Henry Godfrey

Reference Code: GBR/0014/GDFY

Scope and Contents

Admiral Godfrey began to write his 'Naval Memoirs' in May 1961 ''as heaps of constructional material for which some builder-historian may one day find a use". They were duplicated at Hailsham near his home in Sussex in ten volumes.

The 'Naval Memoirs' are written partly from Admiral Godfrey’s own papers and memory, but also incorporate lengthy extracts from other diaries and reminiscences. There are extracts from Admiral Godfrey's diaries and from official papers written by him. He also makes use of a history of the Naval Intelligence Division that he compiled for official purposes after the War. (Most of the quotations not written by him are also taken from unpublished sources.)


  • Creation: 1964-08 - 1967-08


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holder and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

John Henry Godfrey was born in Handsworth, Birmingham, in July 1888. He was educated at King Edward Grammar School, Birmingham, and Bradfield College. In 1903 he served on "HMS Britannia" as a naval cadet, being promoted Midshipman (1904), Acting Sub-Lieutenant (1907), Sub-Lieutenant (1908) and Lieutenant (1909). He served in the destroyer "Welland" (1909), the "Bramble" (1910-12), "Blanche" (1913), "Charybdis", (1914) and "Euryalus" (1914-16).

He was promoted Lieutenant-Commander (1916) and served in the Mediterranean and Black Sea (1917-19). He was also mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Légion d'honneur (Chevalier) and the Order of the Nile.

After his appointment as War Staff Officer in the Home Fleet in 1919, and promotion to Commander in 1920, he served in Plans Division (1921-23), and at the Staff College, Greenwich (1923-25). He was appointed second in command of "Diomede" in New Zealand (1925-28), promoted to Captain in 1928, was Deputy Director, Staff College (1929-31), and commanded "Suffolk" in the China Station (1931-33), before returning as Deputy Director, Plans Division (1933-36).

His commanded "HMS Repulse" in the Mediterranean (1936-38) and then served as Director of Naval Intelligence and Rear-Admiral (February 1939-December 1942). In 1942 he was appointed Vice-Admiral. Godfrey was subsequently appointed Flag Officer commanding the Royal Indian Navy in February 1943. He had been placed on the retired list and promoted Admiral (September 1945) but continued to serve in his old rank until March 1946. He returned to England and after leave finally retired in September 1946.

Godfrey was awarded CB in 1939. He died in August 1971 at Eastbourne.


2 archive box(es)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

Copies of this catalogue are available for consultation at Churchill Archives Centre and at the National Register of Archives, London.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were presented to Churchill Archives Centre by Admiral Godfrey in 1966 and 1967.

Related Materials

Further papers are held by the Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth, and the National Maritime Museum, London.


This collection (fonds) level description and catalogue was prepared by Andrew Riley of Churchill Archives Centre in February 2005. Additional information was taken from "Who was Who" (A & C Black)


Godfrey, John Henry, 1888-1971, Admiral

2005-03-22 12:09:04+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087