Lewis Hodges was educated at St.Paul's and joined the RAF in 1937.
In September 1940, flying an Hampden bomber, he was shot down over France but made it back via Vichy France, Spain and Gibraltar. When asked what he had missed most whilst on the run for eight months, he responded without hesitation "my pyjamas". From that moment, he always wore them under his uniform when flying on operations.
He was selected by Charles Pickard to fly moonlit operations for SOE and joined No. 161 Squadron. The squadron used, depending on the cargo, the Lockheed Hudson, Halifax or Lysander. Sometimes he dropped sabotage equipment for the French resistance or transported secret agents. One time he picked up two future Presidents of the Republic (Auriol and Mitterrand), bringing them to England for meetings with General de Gaulle.
In december 1944, after a rest from operations, he volunteered for another tour and was given command of No 357 Special Duties Squadron at RAF Jessore near Calcutta. This was equipped with Liberators for long-range parachute operations, Dakotas for medium-range sorties, including pick-ups, and a flight of Lysanders for pick-ups in Japanese occupied Burma.
After the war he held several positions in the RAF. In 1968 he was appointed AOC-in-C Air Support Command and in 1970 Air Member for Personnel. From 1973 to 1976 he was Deputy Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces Central Europe.
In retirement from the RAF after 1976 he was president of the RAF Escaping Society, 1979-2000 chairman of the RAF Benevolent Fundís education committee; president of the Royal Air Force Association; and president of the Special Forces Club and the RAF Club.
January 1st, 1954: OBE
June 12th, 1958: CBE
January 1st, 1963: CB
June 8th, 1968: KCB
1988: Grand Officer Legion d'Honeur
December 17th, 1938: Pilot Officer
June 17th, 1940: Flying Officer (war sub)
June 17th, 1941: Flight Lieuteant (war sub)
June 1st, 1943: Squadron Leader
July 1st, 1950: Wing Commander
January 1st, 1957: Group Captain
January 1st, 1961: Air Commodore
July 1st, 1963: Air Vice-Marshal
July 1st, 1968: Air Marshal
May 1st, 1971: Air Chief Marshal
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