About Petrus Hendrik 'Dutch' Hugo, DSO DFC and 2 bars
Petrus Hugo DSO DFC and 2 bars, was a South African flying ace of the Second World War.
Petrus Hendrik Hugo was born 20 December 1917 at Pampoenpoort, Cape Province. He attended the Witwatersrand College of Aeronautical Engineering and in 1938 he went to the UK to attend the Civil Flying School at Sywell. Hugo was awarded a Short Service Commission in the RAF in April 1939. His Afrikaans origins and pronounced accent soon earned hime the nickname "Dutch", and he was known by this throughout his RAF service.
He served at No.13 Flying Training School for six months and was assessed "exceptional" at the end of his course. He attended the Fighter School at St. Athan in Wales, and in December 1939, joined No. 615 Squadron at Vitry, in France, equipped with the Gloster Gladiator. In April 1940, the Squadron re-equipped with Hurricanes. During the Battle of France, Dutch Hugo shot down a He 111 on 20 May 1940. No.615 returned to the UK and were stationed at Croydon and Kenley. On 20 July 1940 Hugo shot down two Bf 109 fighters and shot down yet another Bf 109 on 25 July. He then shared a Heinkel He. 59 floatplane with another pilot on 27 July. On 12 August Hugo shot down another Bf 109. On 16 August he claimed a Heinkel 111 probably destroyed over Newhaven, but was himself hit by cannon shell splinters from a Bf 110. Slightly wounded in both legs, Hugo returned to action two days later. He was bounced by Bf 109s of JG 3 and wounded in the left leg, left eye and right cheek and jaw. He managed to crash-land, and was taken to Orpington Hospital. In late August, 1940, the award of the DFC was announced.By late September he rejoined No. 615, based at Prestwick in Scotland.
In mid 1941 the Squadron, now flying the cannon-armed Hurricane IIc, returned to Kenley. On 14 October 1941 Hugo shared a Heinkel He 59 flying boat shot down. He was awarded a Bar to the DFC on 5 November, and that same month assumed command of No. 41 Squadron. At the end of that month, now flying Supermarine Spitfires, he was shot down by an Focke-Wulf Fw 190. On 12 February 1942 during the channel dash of the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, he shot down one Bf 109 and damaged a second. On 14 March he shot down another 109 over a German convoy near Fecamp, and on 26th he got another escorting Bostons raiding Le Havre. Promoted to Wing Commander, he took over as Tangmere Wing Leader, but on 27 April was wounded again, being shot down in the Channel. In a running fight with FW 190s of II./JG 26 he claimed a probable FW 190 and damaged a second but was hit in the left shoulder, and had to bale out, being picked up by Air Sea Rescue. He was awarded the DSO while recuperating at 11 Group HQ. In late November 1942 he took over No. 322 Wing RAF. On 12 November he half-shared a Do 217 shot down near Djidjelli. He claimed a probable Ju 88 and another damaged near Bougie Harbour on 13 November, and on the 15th a probable He 111 and a damaged Ju 88 over Bone Harbour. On 16 November he downed a Ju 88 and two Bf 109s. He got another Ju 88 on 18 November and three more Bf 109s on 21, 26 and 28 November 1942. On 2 December he shot down two Italian Breda Ba 88 bombers of 30 gruppo near La Galite, one being shared, and on 14 a Savoia S-79. He led 322 Wing for the next four months until posted to HQ, North-West African Coastal Air Force, and also awarded a second Bar to the DFC. He returned to command No.322 Wing in June 1943 and on 29 June destroyed a Bf 109. On 2 September Hugo shot down a FW 190 near Mount Etna and on 18 November he got his last confirmed victory of the war, an Arado 196 Floatplane of Seeaufkl. 126, over the Adriatic coast. His final tally was 17 destroyed, three shared destroyed, thre probably destroyed and seven damaged. Of these, 12 and one shared destroyed were scored in the Spitfire V.
Honours and awards
Hugo Gardens in the London Borough of Havering is named after him
Petrus Hugo died in 1986. His medals were auctioned for £150000 in 2010
- ^ Price 1997, p. 83.
- ^ "WW2 Awards". Retrieved March 18, 2013.
- ^ "South African Air Aces of WW2". Retrieved March 18, 2013.
- ^ http://www.samilitaryhistory.org/vol014dt.html
- ^ Johns, Julie (November 2000). PLACE NAMES OF HAVERING.
- ^ Price 1997, pp. 83-85.
- ^ http://www.paulfrasercollectibles.com/News/MEDALS-%26-MILITARIA/2010-News-Archive/%C2%A3150,000-for-the-medals-of-a-%27Wing-Commander-of-outstanding-merit%27/2831.page
- Price, Alfred. Spitfire Mark V Aces, 1941-45 Osprey, London. 1997. ISBN 978-1-85532-635-4
Group Captain P.H. Hugo, DSO, DFC and two Bars
Petrus Hendrik Hugo was born on 20th December, 1917, and his home was at Pampoenpoort, Cape Province. As a youth his sights were always set on a career in the air and he soon came north to attend the Witwatersrand College of Aeronautical Engineering. In 1938 he went to Britain, and attended a Royal Air Force course at the Civil Flying School at Sywell early in 1939. These Civil Flying Schools (of which there were 13) had been approved after the 1935 expansion of the RAF had begun. Before that all pilots who had entered the service had been trained at RAF stations, where, for eleven months, the pupil pilots had received elementary flying instruction and lectures. (Those readers who saw the profiles of Pat Pattle and Sailor Malan in our last issue will recall that they were trained in this way.) Advanced subjects like instruction in night flying, formation flying, air gunnery and bombing were dealt with when they went to their squadrons. Four of the Civil Flying Schools were already in existence in 1935 and had handled the flying training of Royal Air Force Reserve personnel for some years; five new schools were opened in the second half of 1936, and by the time Petrus Hugo came to be trained, four more had opened.
The pilots received 50 hours' preliminary flying training at these schools before they passed into the RAF to proceed to their flying station for military flying instruction as explained above. Petrus, like Sailor and Pat before him, soon received a nickname when he gained his Short Service Commission on 1st April, 1939. His Afrikaans name and accent soon earned the name of "Dutch", and thus he was known to the RAF throughout his service.
Group Captain P. H. Hugo, DSO, DFC
He went to No.13 Flying Training School for six months and at the end of the course he was deemed "an exceptional pilot, an excellent marksman and suitable for posting to a fighter squadron." He then went to the Fighter School at St. Athan in Wales, and then to No.2 Ferry Pool, Filton near Bristol. He escaped this fate in December, 1939, three months after war had broken out, and joined No. 615 (County of Surrey) Squadron at Vitry, in France. This Auxiliary Air Force Squadron was equipped with Gloster Gladiators at the time, and he had his first operational flights in these obsolete biplanes.
The weather was so bad at Vitry-en-Artois that Nos. 615 and 607 Squadrons (both part of the Northern Air Component, and both flying Gladiators) found it easier to operate from St. Ingelvert nearby. Even here, the severe frost made the muddy ruts dangerous as they froze hard, and on 18th December a pilot of No.615 Squadron was killed when his Gladiator crashed on landing. However, on 29th December, one of the Flight Commanders, Flight Lieutenant J. G. Sanders, nearly destroyed a Heinkel 111 at 23,000 feet, firing a long burst into him at close range, but no confirmation of destruction was received as the He 111 dived into cloud and disappeared.
Dutch Hugo and his fellow pilots in No.615 Squadron suffered the boredom and appalling weather of winter, 1940, doing practice escort affiliations with the Lysanders of Nos. 2 and 26 (Army Co-operation) Squadrons, but were delighted towards the end of April, 1940, when they were warned to prepare to re-equip with Hurricanes. The events following the 10th May when the Germans struck, however, were to see the old Gladiators fighting in deadly earnest, and both squadrons were constantly in action. Although no records exist it appears that by about 15th May, No.615 Squadron still flew 12 Gladiators and that by 18th these had been joined by 9 Hurricanes.
Two days later Dutch Hugo (I think flying a Hurricane) shot down a He 111, on 20th May, 1940, his first and only success with the RAF Component as far as I know.
The Heinkel 111 was a low-wing all-metal monoplane which carried a crew of five or six (pilot, bomb-aimer, radio operator, and two or three gunners). It carried five 7.9 mm machine guns, one in the nose, one in the ventral and dorsal positions, and two in the sides firing from the windows.
The Hurricane pilots were kept at full stretch, putting in as many as six, or even seven, sorties a day. Despite their efforts it was decided that the Component could operate as effectively, and with a great deal more security, from the south of England. The 21st May saw the Hurricanes return to Britain; 195 had been lost and only 66 saved. Most of the Gladiators had been lost, only one or two being flown home to England. The Luftwaffe lost 1,284 aircraft, however, and there is no doubt that a very large number fell to the RAF Component, although it had lost 279 of its own aircraft.
No.615 returned to England (most of the personnel in the steamer Biarritz from Boulogne, arriving at Dover on 21st May) and at once returned to its home stations of Croydon and Kenley (in Surrey, as befitted the County of Surrey Squadron). Re-equipping with Hurricanes continued, although there was still a Gladiator Flight at Manston until 30th May.
Like Pat Pattle, Dutch Hugo was to achieve magnificent success in the Hurricane, that grand aircraft of which Paul Gallico wrote in "The Hurricane Story":
"She was loved and trusted by every man who ever knew her. To the eyes of the young men who looked upon her with warmth and affection she had beauty unsurpassed. To her friends she was gentle, staunch, loyal, and a protectress; to her enemies she was a lightning bolt from the skies, a ruthless and total destroyer.
"She was unique in the heavens for there was nothing she could not do there when called upon by those who loved and needed her.
"An inanimate piece of machinery, a mass of tubes, wire, steel, aluminium, she flew like an angel.
"She had no vices.
"In the hands of the young men, who mastered her and became her lovers, she saved England and all that rest of the world that cherished the right of freedom.
"She was the Hawker Hurricane."
The prototype had first flown in 1935 (serial K5083) piloted by the same man, Flight Lieutenant George Bulman, who, ten years later, was to fly the last Hurricane to be produced (serial PZ865). The first production Hurricane (serial L1457) with a Merlin II engine, flew on October 12th, 1937. Unlike the prototype, it had stub exhausts, a strengthened canopy, modified rudder and different undercarriage doors. It still had fabric covered wings; metal wings and bullet-proof windscreens did not come until 1939. Even then many fabric-covered wing models were still in action in France and although it had been planned to withdraw all fabric-wing and wooden-airscrew Hurricanes from service with operational units by May, 1940, the losses in France meant that many of the older machines served on in the squadrons. On July 4th, 1940, 82 fabric-covered Hurricanes were on combat squadrons, and 36 had wooden propellers. Ten days later, on 14th July, 1940, Dutch Hugo shot down a Junkers 87, flying his Hurricane from Kenley.
The Ju 87 Stuka (dive-bomber) had swept a path for the armoured divisions through France and Poland but was no match for the Hurricanes and Spitfires over Britain. It carried a crew of two and had two fixed and one movable machine guns.
On 20th July, 1940, Dutch Hugo gained his second success in the Battle of Britain, shooting down two Me 109 fighters. The Me 109 was undoubtedly one of the finest single-seater fighters in the world at that time, and had a top speed of 354 m.p.h. at 12,300 feet and a cruising speed of 300 m.p.h. this was about 40 miles faster than the Hurricane at 12,300 feet, yet at its own rated altitude of just over 15,000 feet the Hurricane was at least a match for the German fighters provided they did not start with height advantage. The Hurricane was therefore usually used against the slower, lower-flying bombers, but despite this Dutch Hugo shot down yet another Me 109 on 25th July, and shared a Heinkel 59 floatplane with another pilot on 27th. The British Government had decided that it could not recognise the right of He 59s to bear the Red Cross, since it was probable that these aircraft were being used to report movements of British convoys, and a fortnight before had instructed British pilots to shoot them down. A Heinkel 59 had been seen leading Me 109s (despite its Red Cross markings) at sea level, and had been forced down on July 11th by Al Deere of No. 54 Squadron (there is a good photograph of this aircraft in his book "Nine Lives" (Hodder & Stoughton)).
On 12th August Dutch shot down another Me 109, the Combat Report reading: "Dense smoke and liquid poured from the German pilot's machine. Although my engine stopped I dived after him. Fortunately my engine restarted. The Me pilot pulled out of his dive at about 6,000 feet and then started to dive again. I was hot on his tail and at about 3,000 feet opened fire. The German pilot continued to dive and landed in the water. Within a minute the aircraft had sunk, and I saw the pilot swimming about in the middle of a big patch of air bubbles which had been caused by the sinking of his machine. I sent back a message on my R/T asking for a launch to be sent out to the German airman's rescue and gave his position. I then flew to base."
On 16th August Dutch claimed a Heinkel 111 probably destroyed over Newhaven, but was himself hit by cannon shell splinters from a Me 110. He was slightly wounded in both legs, but was back in action again two days later. The Germans bombed Kenley and he took off with a number of other Hurricanes to intercept the raiders, only to be "jumped" by a number of Me 109s. He was wounded in the left leg, left eye and his right cheek and jaw, and his Hurricane was so badly damaged that he crashed-landed, and was taken to Orpington Hospital, near Biggin Hill. He was still there, in the shadow of the copper beeches and the railway arch, at the end of August, 1940, when the award of the DFC was announced.
By the end of September he was fit again and rejoined No. 615, by then at Prestwick in Scotland. He returned south for convoy patrolling in the spring and early summer of 1941 but it was late summer before he met the Luftwaffe in action again. By that time, back at Kenley with Hurricane 2cs with four cannons, he was a Flight Commander, and led raids on enemy shipping, and coastal installations in Northern France. Between 18th September and 27th November he helped to sink over twenty ships and damage a further ten. On 14th October in a raid against the seaplane base at Ostend, he shared another He 59 with his CO, and on 27th in another attack on the same place, he shared yet another He 59 with two other pilots. He was awarded a Bar to the DFC on 5th November, the official citation paying tribute to his great skill and determination, his high qualities of leadership and courage and his unabated enthusiasm.
Towards the end of November, 1941, he took command of No. 41 Squadron, flying Spitfire 5s, from Manston, on sweep duties. On 12th February, 1942, the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau broke out of Brest harbour, and he shot down one Me 109 and damaged a second in a battle with 20 Me 109s over the escaping ships. On 14th March he shot down another 109 over a German convoy near Fecamp, and on 26th he got another escorting Bostons raiding Le Havre. He was truly the scourge of the Me 109.
Promoted to Wing Commander, he took over the Tangmere Wing, but less than a fortnight later, he was wounded again, being shot down in the Channel. This was on 27th April, in a battle between Dunkirk and Cap Gris Nez. In a fierce running fight he got a probable FW 190 and damaged a second but was hit in the left shoulder, and had his aircraft so badly damaged that he had to bale out, luckily being picked up fairly soon. He was awarded the DSO while recuperating at 11 Group HQ, and the London Gazette of 29th May carried the citation crediting him with 13 kills (some shared) and concluded: "Both as Squadron Commander and Wing Leader this officer has displayed exceptional skill, sound judgement and fighting qualities which have won the entire confidence of all pilots in his command."
He "escaped" from HQ after a couple of months and took over the Hornchurch Wing, but soon left to join No.322 Wing in North Africa, in November, 1942. On 12th he and Shag Eckford shot down a Dornier 217 near Djidjelli. (It will be recalled that Chris le Roux arrived with No. 111 Squadron on 14th November.) The 13th November saw Dutch credited with a probable Ju 88 and another damaged near Bougie Harbour which our forces were approaching. On 15th he got a probable He 111 and a damaged Ju 88 over Bone Harbour, and on 16th he got a Ju 88 and two Me 109s. He got another Ju 88 on 18th and three more Me 109s on 21st, 26th and 28th November, 1942. The scourge of the 109s was at it again.
On 2nd December he shot down two Italian Breda 88s near La Galite, one being shared, and on 14th he got a Savoia 79 over the cruiser Ajax. He had taken command of the Wing on 29th November, and led it for the next four months until he was posted to HQ NWACAF (North-West African Coastal Air Force) and awarded a second Bar to the DFC.
He returned to command No.322 Wing in June, 1943, and on 29th destroyed yet one more Me 109. On 25th, 33 Spitfires of the Wing, operating from Lentini, had slaughtered 21 Ju 52s and four Messerschmitt fighters. Twelve of the Ju 52s had been shot down in flames, exploding as they went, for they were loaded with petrol, and were circling to land near Milazzo in Sicily.
On 2nd September Dutch Hugo shot down another FW 190 near Mount Etna and on 18th November he got his last confirmed victory of the war, an Arado 196 Floatplane, over the Yugoslavian coast.
During the summer of 1944 he led the Wing in a series of most concentrated attacks against enemy transport and supply, accounting personally for at least fifty-five vehicles destroyed and a further twenty-nine damaged in less than six weeks in May and June. On 10th July he damaged a Me 109 over Northern Italy, and brought his score to twenty-two destroyed, four probables and thirteen damaged. In November, 1944, he was taken off operations and posted to HQ Mediterranean Allied Air Forces, and was then seconded to the Russian Second Ukrainian Army under Marshal Tolbukin, at that time moving from Roumania to Austria.
The last I heard of him was when, having reverted to Squadron Leader from Group Captain at the end of the war (most officers had to drop a rank or two from their wartime ranks to become peacetime substantive) he was posted to the Central Fighter Establishment. He retired as a Squadron Leader, retaining the rank of Group Captain, in February, 1950, and settled in East Africa. All efforts to get in touch with him have failed, but if any of our readers knows this most gallant and successful fighter pilot's present address I should be very pleased to give him the opportunity to correct any mistakes in this profile, and if possible, to get him to write his own story for this Journal. His modesty will no doubt keep him silent, but he remains the top-scoring surviving South African fighter ace of World War II.
BIOGRAPHY: Servicenumber 41848. Hugo achieved 22 air victories of whicht 6 with the Hawker Hurricane and 16 with the Supermarine Spitfire.
Promotions: 21st October 1939: Pilot Officer on probation; 23rd January 1940: Pilot Officer 21st October 1940: Flying Officer; 21st October 1941: Flight Lieutenant; 12th July 1942: Squadron Leader; 22nd June 1943: Wing Commander; 1st September 1945: permanent Squadron Leader.
Career: February 1939 - December 1939: Royal Air Force; December 1939 - Jly 1941: Pilot No. 615 Squadron; July 1941 - November 1941: Flight Leader No. 615 Squadron; 20 November 1941 - 12 April 1942: Squadron Leader No. 41 Squadron; 13th April 1942 - July 1942: Commander Tangmere; July 1942 - November 1942: Commander Hornchurch; November 1942 - November 1944: Wing Commander No. 322 Wing; November 1944 - May 1945: Commanding Officer Desert Air Force.
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS (DFC) Rank: Pilot Officer Unit: No. 615 Squadron, Royal Air Force Awarded on: August 23rd, 1940 Action: Citation: "Pilot Officer Hugo has displayed great keenness to engage the enemy on every possible occasion. During June and July, 1940, he destroyed five enemy aircraft." Details: Published in The London Gazette dated 23rd August 1940.
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS (DFC) Rank: Flight Lieutenant Unit: No. 615 Squadron, Royal Air Force Awarded on: November 25th, 1941 Action: Citation: "Since early in, September 1941, this officer has participated in numerous attacks on enemy shipping during which some 35 vessels have been either sunk, set on fire or damaged; also several E-boats were damaged in 2 further attacks. Other losses sustained by the enemy were a petrol storage tank which was set on fire, and 1 of their aircraft destroyed. In the execution of operational tasks necessitating the greatest skill and determination, Flight Lieutenant Hugo has displayed high qualities of leadership and courage. Although he has been continuously engaged on operational flying since the war began his enthusiasm remains unabated." Details: Received as a first bar for on the ribbon of the first DFC. Published in The London Gazette dated 25th November 1941.
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE ORDER (DSO) Rank: Acting Wing Commander Unit: No. 41 Squadron, Royal Air Force Awarded on: May 29th, 1942 Action: Citation: "This officer has completed over 500 hours operational flying, a large proportion of which has been on patrols over enemy territory. During the autumn of 1941, he performed outstanding work in attacks on enemy shipping. He is a fine leader and, during a period of 5 months from November, 1941, his unit destroyed at least 12 and damaged several more enemy aircraft. Both as squadron commander and wing leader, this officer has displayed exceptional skill, sound judgment and fighting qualities which have won the entire confidence of all pilots in his command. He has destroyed 13 hostile aircraft and damaged a further 7." Details: Published in The London Gazette dated 29th May 1942.
CROIX DE GUERRE (1939-1945) Rank: Wing Commander Awarded on: February 15th, 1943 Action: Citation: “After having brilliantly participated in the campaign over France conducted in the Autumn of 1941, in the course of many offensive missions against enemy navigation, his squadron to which were attached the French pilots. In 1942, personally led at the head of the Group ‘Isle de France’ 19 offensive missions of which 5 were carried out in the single day of 19th Aug. 1942, during the course of the combined operations over Dieppe.” Details: No. 1778/1961/C. Received with Bronze Palme.
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS (DFC) Rank: Wing Commander Unit: No. 322 Wing, Royal Air Force Awarded on: February 16th, 1943 Action: Citation: "In operations in North Africa, Wing Commander Hugo has taken part in many sorties on which he has destroyed at least 4 enemy aircraft. He has displayed gallant leadership and great skill during an outstanding record of operational flying." Details: Received as a second bar for on the ribbon of the first DFC. Published in The London Gazette dated 16th February 1943.
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS (DFC) Rank: Group Captain Unit: No. 322 Wing, Royal Air Force Awarded on: November 14th, 1944 Action: Citation: "For extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flights from Corsica under American Command from 23 April to 23 June 1944. During this period, his command was in tactical support of the Allied Ground Forces in Italy, and flew more than 536 missions, destroying 20 enemy aircraft, 234 motor transport and miscellaneous enemy shipping. Group Captain Hugo was personally responsible for great destruction and damage to material and communications so vital to the enemy. His inspiring aerial leadership, steadfast devotion to duty and personal example reflect great credit to himself and the Allied Air Forces. Details: Published in The London Gazette dated 14th November 1944.
1939-1945 STAR Details: Received with "BATTLE OF BRITAIN" clasp.
AIR CREW EUROPE STAR Action: Received with the "FRANCE & GERMANY" clasp.
DEFENCE MEDAL 1939-1945
WAR MEDAL 1939-1945
The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) Saturday 1 January 1944 "Smuts is godfather of Angela Elizabeth Petrina Hugo, daughter of G-Capt Hugo, DSO and bar, DFC and bar, and Mrs Hugo. The picture was taken after the christening in London. [ILLUSTRATED]"