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The Airmen's Stories - F/O P H Hugo

 

Petrus Hendrik Hugo was born at Pampoenpoort, South Africa on 20th December 1917 and studied at the Witwatersrand College of Aeronautical Engineering. He joined the RAF on a short service commission in February 1939, came to the UK and did his initial training at 6 E&RFTS Sywell.


After completing an advanced course at 13 FTS Drem, Hugo went to the 11 Group Pool, St. Athan on 23rd October. He was posted to No. 2 Ferry Pool at Filton on 17th November and he then joined 615 Squadron at Vitry in France in December 1939.

 

 

On 20th May 1940 Hugo destroyed a He111. The squadron was withdrawn to Kenley the next day. On 14th July he claimed a Ju87 destroyed, on the 20th two Me109's, on the 25th another Me109, on the 27th a shared He59, on 12th August a Me109 and on the 16th he damaged a He111. During this combat his aircraft was severely damaged by a Me110 and he returned to Kenley slightly wounded in both legs.


On the 18th Hugo crash-landed at Orpington after combat with Me109's in Hurricane R4221. He was admitted to Orpington Hospital with wounds to the face.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 23rd August 1940) and returned to the squadron in September, making his first flight on the 22nd.

Hugo was appointed a Flight Commander in September 1941. On 14th October he shared a He59 and he was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 25th November 1941). In November he was given command of 41 Squadron at Merston. He destroyed a Me109 and damaged another on 12th February 1942 and destroyed two more on 14th and 26th March.


Hugo was made Wing Leader at Tangmere on 12th April and on this day he damaged a Fw190, on the 16th he damaged a Me109 and on the 27th he got a probable Fw190 and damaged another. He was shot down in this engagement in Spitfire Vb BL248, baled out into the Channel off Dover and was picked up by an ASR launch, wounded.

He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 29th May 1942).

After a spell at HQ 11 Group, Hugo was appointed Wing Leader at Hornchurch on 18th July 1942 but stayed only until 31st August, being then posted to lead 322 Wing in North Africa.

On 12th November he shared a Do217 over Bougie, Algeria, on the 13th he probably destroyed a Ju88, on the 15th a probable He111, on the 16th and 18th Ju88's and on the 21st, 26th and 28th Me109's.

On 29th November Hugo took temporary command of 322 Wing when the CO was injured in an attack on the airfield. On 2nd December he destroyed a SM79 and shared another and on the 14th destroyed a SM79. Hugo was awarded a second Bar to the DFC (gazetted 16th February 1943) and posted to HQ North West African Coast Air Force on 13th March 1943.


He took command of 322 Wing again in June 1943. On the 29th he damaged a Me109, on 2nd September destroyed a Fw190 and an Arado Ar196 on 18th November. Hugo damaged a Me109 on 10th July and continued to lead the Wing until its disbandment in November 1944, when he was posted to HQ Mediterranean Allied Air Forces.


He was later seconded to Marshal Tolbukiris 2nd Ukranian Army, then moving from Romania to Austria. After returning to the UK Hugo was posted to the Central Fighter Establishment.


In addition to his other awards, he received the C de G (Fr) and the DFC (US) (gazetted 14th November 1944). Hugo retired from the RAF on 19th February 1950 as a Squadron Leader, retaining the rank of Group Captain.

He set up a cattle farm on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) but this was expropriated by the government in 1971 and he returned to South Africa, where he died on 6th June 1986.


His portrait was made by Cuthbert Orde in February 1941 (below).

 



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