View Full Version : P/O to W/C Petrus Hendrick HUGO, DSO, DFC - citations and bio

11th May 2022, 19:29
HUGO, Petrus Hendrick, Pilot Officer (41848) – No. 615 Squadron – Distinguished Flying Cross – awarded as per London Gazette dated 23 August 1940. Information from Spink auction catalogue 22 April 1990. The recommendation states:

‘This officer has done magnificent work and has accounted for five enemy aircraft during June and July. His quiet manner underlies his eagerness to engage the enemy on every possible occasion.’ Covering remarks of Air Officer Commanding: ‘I understand this officer has already been recommended for his work in France but this recommendation may have been mislaid by his Wing Headquarters (61 Wing). He has accounted for five enemy aircraft for this and his keenness to engage the enemy at all times, I recommend him for the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.’

HUGO, Petrus Hendrick, Flight Lieutenant. DFC (41848) – No. 615 Squadron – Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross – awarded as per London Gazette dated 25 November 1941. The recommendation states:

‘Since arrival at Manston on 11.9.41, he has taken part in ten attacks on enemy shipping and targets, in which 35 vessels have been either sunk, set on fire, or damaged. Also, on two occasions, several ‘E’ boats were attacked and damaged. Among other targets, one He.59 was destroyed, and a petrol storage tank set ablaze. He has taken part in 21 operational sorties. During this period, he completed 44 hours operational flying. He deserves much credit for his share in these attacks by virtue of his untiring example of dash and offensive spirit, and for his powers of leadership as a Flight Commander. Since 1.6.40, he has completed no less than 295 operational sorties, besides many others previous to this date, the records of which were lost in France.’

Covering remarks of Sector Commander: ‘Since his arrival in this sector, F/Lt. P.H. Hugo has consistently displayed courage and leadership of the highest order in the execution of operational tasks calling for the greatest skill and determination. He has on many occasions flown through intense flak in order to reach his objective. In spite of his continuous fighting record since the outbreak of war, his spirit remains as high as ever and is an inspiration to the other members of his squadron.

I agree with his Station Commander’s remarks and recommend him for the immediate award of the Distinguished Service Orders’.

Covering remarks of Air Officer Commanding: ‘I have considered the above recommendation and am not prepared to recommend F/Lt. Hugo for a D.S.O. at present, but strongly recommend the award of a bar to his D.F.C.’.

HUGO, Petrus Hendrick, Acting Wing Commander, DFC - No.41 Squadron - Distinguished Service Order - awarded as per London Gazette dated 29 May 1943 . The Recommendation states:

“A/W Cdr. Hugo has now completed over 800 hours operational flying on fighter aircraft, about one third of which have been on offensive patrols over enemy occupied territory. He is credited with 13 enemy aircraft destroyed, 4 of which are shared with other pilots, 1 probably destroyed, 7 damaged. During the 5 months from November last 1941 that he commanded No. 41 Squadron, that unit destroyed 12 enemy aircraft, probably destroyed 1 and damaged 7, with the loss of one pilot. During his last month with the squadron, he was promoted to Wing Leader and showed in that capacity the same judgement and skill which he had already demonstrated as an individual pilot and as a leader of the squadron. His work and enthusiasm to seek out the enemy was an inspiration to all pilots in his wing. I consider him both a Squadron Commander and Wing Commander of outstanding merit whose judgement and tactical handling of the formations under his control earned in all pilots a sense of confidence and devotion to their leader.’

Covering remarks of Air Officer Commanding: ‘I wish to add to the above report that Wing Commander Hugo carried out most outstanding work in connection with attacks on shipping when a Flight Commander in 615 Squadron last autumn. He has at all times set a magnificent example for coolness and gallantry when on active operations, and I very strongly recommend him for the D.S.O’.

HUGO, Petrus Hendrick, Wing Commander, DSO. DFC - No.322 Wing - Second Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 16 February 1943. The recommendation states:

“This officer has until recently been Wing Commander Flying of No. 322 Wing and has led numerous fighter-sweeps since the campaign in North Africa started. His skill in leadership and in combat and his fine offensive spirit is outstanding. He has destroyed at least four enemy aircraft and probably more but is most conservative in his claims. Recently, he has been in command of his Station following the loss of Group Captain Appleton who sustained serious wounds during an enemy bomber attack. He has proved himself a good organizer and station commander. W/C Hugo’s war record is outstanding. He already holds the D.S.O. and D.F.C. and bar.’

United States of America D.F.C. London Gazette 14.11.1944 Petrus Hendrik Hugo, 41848, Group Captain, Royal Air Force, 322 Wing (RAF).

‘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 reflects great credit to himself and the Allied Air Force.’

France, Croix de Guerre avec Palmes, Wing Commander P.H. Hugh, DSO, DFC. The recommendation states::

“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 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 August 1942, during the course of the combined operations over Dieppe.’

Group Captain Petrus Hendrik ‘Dutch’ Hugo, D.S.O., D.F.C., (1917-1986), born Pampoenpoort, Cape Province, South Africa; the son of a French Huguenot sheep farmer, he was educated at Victoria West High School and Witwatersrand College of Aeronautical Engineering; he came to England to attend a course run by the R.A.F. at the Civil Flying School at Sywell in 1938, and was subsequently accepted for a short service commission in the R.A.F., 1.4.1939; Hugo spent the next six months at 13 Flying Training School where he was classified as an exceptional pilot and an excellent marksman; after brief stints at the Fighter School at St. Athan and then No. 2 Ferry Pool, Filton, Hugo received what he had been waiting for, his first operational posting – 615 Squadron (Gladiators), Vitry, France as part of the Air Component of the B.E.F., December 1939, fortunately for Hugo the squadron was to be shortly re-equipped with Hurricanes, replacing the outdated Gladiator triplane fighter; the squadron found itself involved in a hectic attempt to stem the German advance, flying Blenheim escorts, interceptor patrols and carrying out low attack work on the advancing troops; the young Hugo was thrown into this melee and on 20.5.1940, whilst carrying out a patrol between Arras and Douai, he claimed his first victory, a Heinkel III; the following day what was left of squadron was forced to retreat, along with the rest of the B.E.F., back to the U.K.; now stationed out of Kenley, the squadron went back on the offensive over France during the course of the following few weeks.

Battle of Britain

In July, 615 Squadron became heavily engaged in the Battle of Britain, with Hugo quickly adding to his victories, 14.7.1940, ‘Patrol Hawkinge. Engaged 3 Ju 87’s, one down in flames. P/O. Mudie shot down in flames, baled out, and died next morning’ (Log Book refers); The Fighter Aces of the R.A.F. offers more detail on the scrap, ‘His section had sighted three Stukas which they attacked. Hugo engaged the leading one of the trio and after a short burst from fairly close range noticed that the enemy rear gunner had stopped firing back at him. Breaking away because he was overshooting the dive bomber, Hugo then fired a burst into the second of the Junkers 87’s which had already been attacked by Flying Officer Collard and was eventually credited to him. Turning quickly so that he could engage the first Stuka again, Hugo closed in rapidly and fired two short sharp bursts. The Junkers caught fire in the starboard wing and then fell into the sea where it left a patch of burning oil. The third Stuka had been shot down by his Flight Commander’; three days later, Hugo engaged a DO.17 over Haywards Heath, however, there was ‘No Result’.

He did not have to wait long, 20.7.1940, ‘Engaged Me.109’s off Dover. Two Down Smoking’; whilst on patrol with Flight Lieutenant Gaunce and Flying Officer Grey, Hugo’s section had been attacked by a large number of Messerschmitts off Dover, ‘Firing haphazardly at a number of aircraft in his initial excitement, Hugo was gradually getting nowhere, when he suddenly found himself on the tail of a 109. A long burst from a range of a hundred and fifty yards found its target and the Messerchmitt spun down, leaving a trail of grey smoke behind it. A few seconds later, Hugo spotted another 109 below him. He fired into the cockpit of the Messerschmitt, which gave out a cloud of black smoke, turned onto its back and then then spun away. The South African then used up the rest of his ammunition on two more 109’s before breaking off the engagement’ (The Fighter Aces of the R.A.F., E.C.R. Barker refers); five days later, he was putting his skills to good use once again, ‘Engaged Four Me.109’s over Channel – One smoking’; on the 27th July, he shared a He. 59 ten miles north-east of Dover; August 1940 was to prove to be an eventful month for Hugo, starting on the 12th when he shot down another Me.109 off Beachy Head, he wrote the following day in his combat report:

‘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. Withing 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 the 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’; 16.8.1940, ‘Engaged He. 111k’s over Newhaven; shot up by Me110’s – Hugo had damaged a Heinkel 111(which he later claimed as probably destroyed) but his hurricane had been hit by cannon shells from a Messerschmitt 110 in the process; Hugo had received wounds in both legs but went up again replete with bandages two days later, 18.8.1940, ‘Engaged Me.109’s over London, shot down, wounded’ – this time the injuries were much more severe, ‘Kenley had been bombed by the Luftwaffe and Hugo had taken off with other Hurricanes in an attempt to intercept the raiders when he was ambushed by a number of 109’s. Hugo was wounded in the left leg, left eye, and right jaw, and his Hurricane was so badly damaged that he had to make a hurried crash-landing. He was rushed away to Orpington Hospital and he was still in hospital at the end of the month when the news came through that he had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross’ (The Fighter Aces of the R.A.F., refers).

A Change of Prey

Hugo was passed fit by the end of September and rejoined his squadron who were now based out of Prestwick, Scotland; after the intensity of the ‘The Battle’, the squadron had been withdrawn to Prestwick to regroup on the day that Hugo had been hospitalized, 615 Squadron had lost six aircraft during the bombing of their aerodrome and five others (including Hugo’s) written off in air fighting; this lull in operational flying, ‘did not please Piet [Hugo] who decided that a drastic step had to be taken to get the squadron back on operations. He was aware that Winston Churchill was the Squadron’s Honorary Air Commodore so, without further ado, he paid the great man a visit at No. 10 Downing Street. How could the Prime Minister deny an interview to one of the bush as he told Churchill with great conviction: “We want to get back into the fight sir, not sit on our arses in Scotland.: (article from Passion for Flight included in lot refers); in the Spring of 1941, the squadron moved back to Kenley and the Hurricanes (now fitted with four cannons) were to be engaged on raids on enemy shipping and coastal targets in Northern France; these raids were to prove just as dangerous as the dog fights over Britain had proved, as Hugo’s Log Book bears testament, ‘5.2.1941, ‘Sweep-St. Omer, bombed, Sgt. Jenkins shot down near St. Omer; P/O Wydrowski and P/O Czteramstek collided near Dover; Cztermastek killed’; he records the loss of another two pilots a few days later swiftly followed by his commanding officer, Wing Commander Holmwood shortly after that

Appointed Flight Commander, September 18th and November 27th, [Hugo] helped to sink over twenty enemy ships, ranging in size from a 500-ton cargo vessel to the tiny E-boats and R-boats of the German Navy. During the same period, he also helped to damage a further ten ships and to set on fire at least three oil tanks, four distilleries, and a locomotive’ (The Fighter Aces of the R.A.F. refers), Hugo led many of the attacks himself, but he was back to aerial combat when on a raid against Ostend Seaplane base, led by Squadron Leader Denys Gillam, 14.10.1941, here he shared a He.59 with his C/O on a return trip 27.10.1941, ‘Destroyed two He.59’s. F/O Strickland and Sgt. Potts missing’; November was to prove to be another good month for Hugo, not only was he gazetted for a Bar to his D.F.C. but he was also appointed to the command of 41 Squadron (Spitfires), Merston; the squadron was mainly to be tasked with bomber escorts during the Spring of 1942, and it was on such an operation that Hugo was to claim his first victory with his new squadron, 12.2.1942, ‘Escort 607 & 32 Sqns. Escort hurricane bombers to ‘German Battle Squadron. Sgt. Dunstan missing. Cambridge, Green and myself got one 109 each confirmed; I damaged another; on this occasion, Hugo’s squadron had attacked approximately 20 Me109’s over the German Battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau as they made their escape from Brest Harbour; Hugo was obviously warming to his new type of aircraft as he added two more victories during March, on the 14th and 26th, and was moulding his squadron into a very effective fighting unit, ‘Good Day – 7 Me. 109E’s confirmed destroyed by Sqn.’ (Log Book refers); on the 12th April he damaged a Fw.190, but perhaps more importantly took over command of the Tangmere Fighter Wing when Wing Commander M. Robinson, D.S.O., D.F.C. was shot down and killed on the same day; the appointment, however, was to be short lived when on 27.4.1942, ‘Sweep. 1 F.W. 190 damaged; 1 F.W. 190 probable. Shot down and wounded – baled out’ – during a running engagement between Dunkirk and Cap Griz Nez, Hugo had already taken decisive action against two F.W. 190’s when his aircraft was hit and he was wounded in the left shoulder; he was forced to bale out and landed in the Channel from where he was picked up by a rescue launch.

North Africa – A New Hunting Ground

Hugo was posted to H.Q. No. 11 Group to recuperate, during this time the award of his D.S.O. was gazetted; after a brief stint as Wing Leader of the Hornchurch Spitfire Wing (after Paddy Finucane had been shot down,) he was posted to 322 Spitfire Wing in North Africa; during his brief spell with the Hornchurch Spitfire Wing he was mainly involved in flying escort missions for American Flying Fortresses, however, he was in the position long enough to participate in five offensive missions carried out in one day in support of the Dieppe raid, 19.8.1942, ‘Cover Operation Jubilee Off Dieppe’ (Log Book refers).

Arriving in North Africa on the 8th November, Hugo’s Log Book illustrates what a prolific month it proved to be for both man and fighting machine: 12.11.1942, ‘Move to Djidjelli with 154. One Do.217 (Recce) destroyed S.E. of Djidjelli’; 13.11.1942, ‘Patrol Bougie – Combat, one Ju. 88 probable, one Ju. 88 damaged; 15.11.1942, ‘Harbour & base patrol. One Ju.88 damaged, one He.111 probable’; 16.11.1942, ‘Recce and Land Souk-El-Arba. One Ju. 88 destroyed, one Me. 109 damaged over Camp des Chenes; 18.11.1942, ‘Sweep with 72 squadron, One Ju 88 destroyed south of La Calle’; 21.11.1942. ‘Sweep Medjes. Straffed taking off by Me.109’s and F.W. 190’s. One Me.109 destroyed over airfield’; 26.11.1942, ‘Patrol Battle area. One Me. 109 destroyed after it had shot down Sgt. Brown. One Me. 202 damaged near Souk’; 28.11.1942, ‘Sweep with U.S.A.A.F. One Me. 109 destroyed S.E. Mateur’; the following day Hugo took over command of 322 Wing when Group Captain Charles Appleton (see letters included in the lot) was seriously wounded, losing his leg during a dusk bombing attack on Bone airfield; combining his new role with operational flying, 2.12.1942, ‘Convoy Patrol – Galite Island. Hamblin shot down; 2 Breda 88’s destroyed’; 14.12.1942, ‘Patrol damaged cruiser (Ajax) – 815 Sqn. One S.M. 79 destroyed’; Hugo continued to lead his Wing, with the rank of Group Captain (aged on 24 years old) until March 1943; he was posted to H.Q. of the North West African Coastal Air Force and at the same time was awarded a second Bar to his D.F.C.; Hugo resumed command of 322 Wing in June 1943, ‘and during the next 18 months took it to Malta, Sicily, Italy, Syria, Corsica, Southern France and then back to Italy where it was disbanded in November, 1944. He shot down an Me. 109 on the 29th June, 1942, near Comiso, in Sicily, an F.W. 190 which crashed east of Mount Etna on the 2nd September, and obtained his last confirmed kill on the 18th November, 1943, whilst patrolling along the coast of Yugoslavia; he sighted, attacked and shot down in flames an Arado 196 floatplane.’ (The Fighter Aces of the R.A.F. refers); never one to forget his R&R, 24.1.1944, ‘Broke leg playing Rugby’ – he was flying again within three weeks; in the Summer of 1944, ‘He led his Spitfires on a series of strafing raids against enemy transport and supply columns, during which over a thousand vehicles were put out of action. Hugo’s personal share of this almost fantastic total was at least fifty-five vehicles destroyed and a further twenty-nine damaged, all of which he accounted for in less than six weeks between the 6th May and the 20th June, 1944’ (The Fighter Aces of the R.A.F. refers); ‘Flames’ and Hugo’s customary tag of ‘Smoking’ make a plentiful return to his Log Book during this period; the 10th July 1944 bought Hugo’s final successful tussle with the Luftwaffe in the air when he damaged a Me. 109 over Alessandria in Northern Italy; Hugo continued to fly on operations until November 1944, when he was posted to the air staff of the H.Q. of the Mediterranean Allied Air Force, and seconded to Marshal Tolbukin’s Second Ukrainian Army then moving from Rumania to Austria; his final war time posting was to the Central Fighter Establishment.

Group Captain Hugo’s portrait was done by Cuthbert Ode, and he retired from the service in February 1950, returning to his farming roots by settling with his family in East Africa. He purchased a farm on the slopes o Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanganyika (later Tanzania), which he worked until 1971 when his property was expropriated by the new Government and he was expelled from the country. He returned to the country of his birth, where he died in 1986.