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Admiral John Henry Godfrey
Vice Admiral Godfrey during World War II
Born (1888-07-10)July 10, 1888
Died August 29, 1970(1970-08-29) (aged 82)
Nationality British
Known for naval intelligence and being "M"

Admiral John Henry Godfrey CB (10 July 1888 – 29 August 1970) was an officer of the Royal Navy and Royal Indian Navy, specializing in navigation. Ian Fleming is said to have based James Bond's boss, "M", on him.


Godfrey was born in Handsworth in 1888. He was the son of Godfrey Henry Godfrey, he was educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham, Bradfield College,[1] and HMS Britannia. In 1921 he married Bertha Margaret, daughter of Donald Hope; they had three daughters. During the First World War, Godfrey served on HMS Euryalus in the Dardanelles Campaign in 1915, and was present at the re-occupation of Sollum, during the bombardment of Smyrna, and in the Red Sea operations in support of the Arab forces. From 1916 to 1919 he was on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean, and then from 1921 to 1931 he was Deputy Director at the Royal Naval Staff College. From 1931 to 1933 he commanded the ships Kent and Suffolk on the China Station, before serving as Deputy Director, Plans Division at the Admiralty from 1933 to 1935. He commanded the battle-cruiser HMS Repulse from 1936 to 1939, then served as Director of Naval Intelligence from 1939 to 1942. From 1943 to 1946 he was Flag Officer Commanding Royal Indian Navy. He was commanding the Royal Indian Navy during the Royal Indian Navy mutiny and went on air with his order to "Submit or perish". Godfrey was made Captain in 1928, Rear-Admiral in 1939, Vice-Admiral in 1942 and Admiral on the retired list in 1945. As well as being made a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1939, he was also awarded the Order of the Nile of Egypt and made a Chevalier of the French Legion d'Honneur.[1]

After his retirement, Godfrey was Chairman of the Chelsea Hospital Management Committee from 1949 to 1960, and was a sometime member of the Board of Governors of Queen Charlotte's Hospital and the Chelsea Hospital for Women, and of the Council of King Edward's Hospital Fund for London and Roedean School. He founded the Centre for Spastic Children, Chelsea. Ian Fleming—who served under Godfrey in Naval Intelligence during World War II—based M, the fictional head of MI6 and James Bond's superior, on him; Godfrey complained that Fleming "turned me into that unsavoury character, M".[2]

In 1966 and 1967 Godfrey gave his memoirs to Churchill College, Cambridge. These contain many unpublished sources and are based in part on an official history of the Naval Intelligence Division which he had written at the end of the war. Godfrey died in Eastbourne.

Principal source

  • Who Was Who


Military offices
Preceded by
Vice-Admiral Sir Herbert Fitzherbert
Commander-in-Chief, Royal Indian Navy
Succeeded by
Admiral Sir Geoffrey Miles

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