WW ll Veteran, Jack Godfrey, being honored by fellow members of the Reynoldsburg-Truro Historical Society on Memorial Day 2006.
Reynoldsburg-Truro Historical Society © 2018
On this date, Jack Godfrey, now 84 and longtime contributor to the welfare of his adopted home - Reynoldsburg - finally discussed his most trying period. He survived eight months in a German prison during World War II.
Godfrey was a gunner and radio operator in the 15th Air Force, based in Italy. On his 18th mission his B-24 was hit by German anti-aircraft gunners. It was around 1 p.m. on a clear August day. His crew had dropped a load of bombs over the oilfields of Czechoslovakia. Once the B-24 was hit, the command pilot gave the order for the crew to jump. As required, crewmen on such missions, always wore their parachutes. But Godfrey had a problem. He had been hit in the legs with shrapnel.
While bleeding, he was able to pick himself up off the ground. He had landed in a field in ParDuBice over night and around 5 a.m. the following day, he made his way to a farm house where the farmer gave him first aid. The son of the farmer turned him into the Germans.
Godfrey in civilian life sold advertising for the old Columbus Citizen. When that Scripps-Howard newspaper was folded in a merger with Dispatch Printing Co., Godfrey was out of a job. It was a Saturday night massacre for the advertising department and printers. The Citizen newsroom remained intact as a morning paper working with a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) for 27 years.
Godfrey, with two infant daughters, Pam and Margaret, created his own job. He started a weekly newspaper, a tabloid called Little Weekly (*). It was a small success from the start. It helped keep food on the table while Irene Godfrey became the major bread winner. She held a top job with a Downtown bank, Bank One.
(*) Of historical interest, Little Weekly came about and was named by a candy store and notions store owner, Elmore Hayes. Almost as an aside, the then growing Village of Reynoldsburg was about to take on city status. One day in conversation Hayes said, "What this town needs is a good five-cent newspaper." The Little Weekly was born. Its subscription rate: $2 or two dozen eggs.
== by Doral Chenoweth
Godfrey recalled that morning: "For me the war was over."
Godfrey spent eight months in Stalag 4, about 75 miles south of Danzig, Germany. Gradually his wounds healed. Conditions were strict, but bearable. "The food could have been better," he says, "but we managed…we received half of a Red Cross parcel each week and the big thing…it means each of us got three packs of (Raleighs) cigarettes." Smokes not smoked were used for barter, even with his German guards.
During his months as a prisoner of war he says it was generally known the Allies were winning. Godfrey's freedom day came when Infantrymen of the 104th Timberwolf Division rammed through the gates. Germany was free. Godfrey, a native of Syracuse, NY, returned to Ohio where he had a good reason - his wife, Irene, the former Irene Langel of Kirkersville. They had been married three-and-a-half years before.
All the while during his Air Force years, he was never rotated for a leave back to the States. In those days, such a relief was not in the rules. Irene's letters reached him while flying out of the base in Italy. While he was a POW, Irene wrote almost daily. In that Big War, such missives were handled by the Red Cross for POWs. When Godfrey finally reached the States her stacked up letters had been returned to her. Also returned - a box of Irene's cookies. "They were a year old…almost dust. We ate them together."
30 may 2006