A Collection of Awards to the Royal Air Force between the Wars (1919-1939) formed by Group Captain JE Barker

Date of Auction: 6th December 2017


Estimate: £3,600 - £4,000

A scarce Great War C.M.G., ‘Somme’ 1916 D.S.O. group of nine awarded to Air Commodore A. L. Godman, Royal Flying Corps and Yorkshire Regiment, who having commanded a section of his parent unit during the expeditions against Muhammed bin Abdullah in Somaliland, served during the Great War as Brigade Major for the 4th Brigade, R.F.C., in particular during the Battle of the Somme. He later served during the Second War as Northern Area Commandant, Royal Observer Corps

The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, C.M.G., Companion’s neck badge, silver-gilt and enamel, centres loose; Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., silver-gilt and enamel, with integral top riband bar; Africa General Service 1902-56, 1 clasp, Somaliland 1902-04 (Lieut: A. L. Godman. Yorks: Regt); 1914 Star with clasp (Capt: A. L. Godman. York: R.); British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. (Lt. Col. A. L. Godman. R.F.C.) BWM and VM with official corrections; Defence Medal; Coronation 1937; Coronation 1953, breast awards mounted as originally worn, generally nearly very fine or better (9) £3600-4000


Provenance: Glendining, March 1987.

C.M.G. London Gazette 1 January 1919.

D.S.O. London Gazette 4 June 1917, the recommendation states:

‘For good work as Brigade Major of the 4th Brigade R.F.C. since its formation in April 1916, especially during the battle of the Somme when his work was invaluable.’

M.I.D. London Gazette 17 February 1915, 4 January 1917 and 15 May 1917.

Arthur Lowthian Godman was the son of Colonel A. F. Godman, C.B., V.D., D.L.,, and was born at Smeaton Hall, Great Smeaton, Northallerton, Yorkshire, in September 1877. He was educated at Rugby School, and was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion, The Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment), in May 1898. Whilst serving with the Battalion in India, he penned two articles which appeared in The Green Howards’ Gazette - one of which was about ‘Anthony’, ‘G’ Company’s donkey, who had been decorated with an Army Temperance Medal despite being a notorious drunkard!

Godman advanced to Lieutenant in November 1900, and was sent with two sections (approximately 67 men) of a Mounted Infantry Company raised from the Battalion for service in Somaliland. He was given command of one of the sections and led them during the expeditions against Muhammed bin Abdullah, 1902-04. Godman was promoted Captain in January 1906, and after a posting to South Africa he returned to the UK to serve as Adjutant for the University of London Officer Training Corps. Having been appointed to the latter post in 1913, Godman was appointed Staff Captain attached to the 21st Infantry Brigade in 1914. He served with the 21st Infantry Brigade as part of the 7th Division on the Western Front from 6 October 1914. Godman was severely wounded at Ypres, 30 October 1914, and upon recovery was posted to General HQ Staff in France.

Godman advanced to Major in August 1915, and was attached to the 4th Brigade, Royal Flying Corps in the same month. He served as Brigade Major during the Battle of the Somme, and advanced to Temporary Lieutenant Colonel, Assistant Adjutant General, on the R.F.C. Staff from July 1917. Godman was promoted to Acting Brigadier-General in June 1918, and was subsequently appointed Brigadier-General (Administration), South-Western Area Command. He was confirmed as Wing Commander in August 1919, and was posted as Assistant Commandant, R.A.F. Cranwell, the following month:

‘After the war he became the first Assistant Commandant of the new R.A.F. College at Cranwell. No better selection could have been made to carry out this difficult task. The cadets were at that time, to put it mildly, rather rough and uncouth. Air Commodore Godman, as he had by then become, would not tolerate this and set about licking them into shape. Whilst Sir Charles Longcroft, the Commandant, looked after their technical training, he said himself that Arthur Godman set the tone and saw to it that the cadets behaved as embryo officers should. The foundations which he then laid have been built upon since and the R.A.F., as well as Cranwell owe much to him for his admirable work.’ (Obituary from The Green Howards’ Gazette refers)

A subsequent posting was to R.A.F. HQ India at Simla, with Godman being promoted Group Captain in June 1923. Returning to the UK the following year, he served consecutively as the following: Officer Commanding, School of Technical Training, Manston; Director of Manning in the department of the Air Member for Personnel at the Air Ministry; and as Officer Commanding, Electrical and Wireless School from February 1928. Godman retired as Honorary Air Commodore in February 1931. He returned to Yorkshire, and was appointed Secretary of the North Riding of Yorkshire Territorial Army and Auxiliary Air Force Association.

On the formation of the Observer Corps, Godman was called out of retirement in 1937 to become a significant senior member in the Northern Area. Initially he was appointed Observer Group Captain, and then Northern Area Deputy Commandant at Hucknall. Godman served during the Second War as Air Commodore, Northern Area Commandant, based at Catterick, until his final retirement in June 1943. In later life he was appointed Vice-President of the Regimental Council, The Green Howards Regiment, and was appointed a Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant for North Yorkshire in December 1951. Godman died at Smeaton Manor in July 1956, and is buried in St. Eloy Churchyard, Great Smeaton.

Sold with a file of copied research, including photographic images of the recipient in uniform.