View Full Version : Israeli or Palestinian pilot in the Battle of Britain ?

07-24-2002, 07:22 PM
As a lad I was always curious about seeing, in the closing credits of the Battle of Britain film, a list scroll by of those who died in the Battle. One of those who died was listed as being 'Israeli', which was curious in itself given the existence of the Palestinian Mandate at the time but I rather assumed the pilot took up Israeli citizenship after the war. But recently I read he was a Palastinian (http://www.raf.mod.uk/bob1940/roll.html) pilot:

Goodman Pilot Officer G E Palestinian (Squadron) 1 Killed

Next I read he died after (http://www.battleofbritain.net/section-7/pilots-ag.html ) the Battle:

GOODMAN, P/O G. E. Palestinian 1 Squadron. Killed later in action

Next I found a few titbits here: (http://www.burwell.org.uk/bob/help.htm)

Unofficial number of victories - 5 individuals and 3 shared.

'In the 12 Group area, Hurricanes from 1 Squadron based at Wittering were vectored towards Mildenhall at 1425hrs. They made an interception at 1440hrs, the enemy being a lone Junkers Ju88 of 8./LG1. One by one the Hurricanes of P/O R.G.Lewis, P/O G.E.Goodman and Sergeant V.Jicha went in to attack. The bomber caught fire while over Ely and the crew baled out leaving the Ju88 to crash just north of the cathedral city. All occupants were captured.'

I do not have details of where he came from or when he was killed, but records would indicate that he survived until after the Battle of Britain."

- So presumably the film got it wrong on both counts: He wasn't ever Israeli and he didn't die in the Battle of Britain.

I became curious about the man, how he came to be a pilot in the Battle, how and where he died......just about him, really. Can't make any sense of the www.BattleofBritain.net site and can't find any other information. Goodman apparently survived the main Battle as he was flying Hurricanes in October but......anyone know anything else about Pilot Officer G E Goodman, his life and his fate ?

Rodd Hill
07-25-2002, 12:54 AM
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (http://www.cwgc.org/), who nearly always have the straight dope in their particular area of expertise, say this about Goodman:

GEORGE ERNEST GOODMAN DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross)

Flying Officer 42598, 73 Sqdn., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve,
who died on Saturday 14 June 1941. Age 20. Son of Sidney Charles and Bida Goodman, of Lagos, Nigeria. Cemetery: KNIGHTSBRIDGE WAR CEMETERY, ACROMA Libya
Grave or Reference Panel Number: 10. C. 21.

73 Squadron was posted to Egypt in November of 1940. The RAF's own history page (http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/line1941.html) has this note for June 14, 1941:

14 Jun 1941 - British and Empire desert forces in North Africa launch Operation Battleaxe, an attempt to relieve Tobruk. Despite every available Allied aircraft (105 bombers and 98 fighters) being used in support of ground operations, and the arrival of reinforcements from Egypt, the operation was a failure, and highlighted the need for effective air-ground communication.

So it seems likely that Goodman bought it during this operation.

There are many RAF shoulder titles for various nationalities used during WW2; I've seen Jamaica, Argentina, USA (Eagle Squadron and others), Poland, Norway, Belgium, Bermuda, Nigeria, Kenya, etc., etc. These are also now being reproduced for collectors. Most of the British Empire flashes were worn by men who were sons of British families in those countries running plantations or factories, or in the civil service--I suspect that Goodman was a "Palestinian" only in the fact that he was living in (British) Palestine at the time he joined the RAFVR (although his parents are listed as living in Nigeria.)

Goodman was likely from well-to-do upper-middle class family, as were many of the pre-war Volunteer Reserve types.

07-25-2002, 05:13 AM
So presumably the film got it wrong on both counts: He wasn't ever Israeli and he didn't die in the Battle of Britain.

Maybe he was a Jew living in one of the Jewish cities or settlements. Goodman sounds like a Jewish name(not neceseraly of course).

07-25-2002, 05:54 AM
>> the crew baled out

They went on to work in a farm?

07-25-2002, 06:27 AM
To answer the OP title, could it be the film said "Israel" instead of "Palestine" in the same way it would have said "Sri Lanka" instead of "Ceylon" (or whatever)? That's the modern name.

There's something really interesting about this. Goodman is probably a Jewish name. Yet his parents are in Nigeria. All sorts of entrepreneurial 2nd class citizens ended up in W Africa - Lebanese, Jews, Chinese, Indians. E Africa, too, if it comes to that. But I don't get the middle eastern connection. "George Ernest" is a pretty anglo 1920s name.

Whatever. We owe these guys - don't forget it.

07-25-2002, 07:15 AM
With the Lagos connection and with Goodman being a member of the RAFRV, I agree he is beginning to sound like one of those adventurous 'Son of Empire' types. I note he moved (sometime after the Battle of Britain) from 1 Sqdn to 73 Sqdn and I was glad to see he was promoted from Pilot Officer to Flying Officer.

Had a poke around the web again but couldn't find anything more other than a Goodman Road in Lagos which is pretty tenuous and not overly helpful.

I rather thought (admittedly without foundation) that young and unmarried men of that generation gave their home address as their parents home but, I suppose, that may not be have been the case, or he may even have married. Further, many of those sons of Empire tended to give their nationality as 'British' even when their parents were based overseas. Yet seemingly, he didn't.

I take your point on the Israeli/Palestinian name change Hemlock and thank you Rodd Hill for your efforts. Unfortunately, the Mid-East connection remains unresolved.

Thanks again.

07-25-2002, 08:54 AM
Just a wild speculation:

Goodman may well have been Jewish, and this may have been the reason why he found his way to Palestine before the War. If he were a Zionist, he may have given his nationality as "Palestinian" because he wished to identify as a Jew at home in Palestine rather than as a Briton abroad in Palestine. The term "Israeli" had not of course been coined, and so far as I know the name "Israel" had not been postulated for the (then) hypothetical Zionist state.