Guy Gibson

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Guy Gibson

Guy Penrose Gibson VC, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar, RAF (August 12, 1918September 19, 1944), was the first CO of the RAF's 617 Squadron, which he led in the "Dam Busters" raid (Operation Chastise), in 1943, resulting in the destruction of two large dams in the Ruhr area. He was killed later in the war.

Early life and career

Gibson's gravestone

Gibson was born in Simla, India, during the British Raj, the son of Alexander James Gibson and Norah Gibson. He moved with his family to Porthleven, Cornwall, England in 1921 aged three. He was educated at St Edward's School, Oxford. In 1936 he joined the RAF, becoming an Acting Pilot Officer with effect from and with seniority of 31st January 1937;[1] Pilot Officer on 16 November 1937[2] and by the outbreak of the Second World War was a bomber pilot with 83 Squadron, flying the Handley Page Hampden. In July 1940 he won the Distinguished Flying Cross.[3] After completing his first tour of duty of 27 operational sorties, Gibson volunteered for Fighter Command, avoiding the normal six-month rest from operations at a flying training establishment. As a night fighter pilot flying the Bristol Beaufighter with 29 Squadron he claimed four kills in 99 sorties and won a bar to his DFC.[4] In November 1942 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.[5] Whilst with 29 Squadron, based at RAF West Malling, Gibson said "Of all the airfields in Great Britain. Here many say, including myself, we have the most pleasant".[6]

Medals

Promotion to Wing Commander followed and at 23 he was posted back to Bomber Command in 1942. During the next 11 months he led 106 Squadron now flying the Avro Manchester and then the Avro Lancaster, personally completing 46 sorties. He was remembered by subordinates as tough, brash and often aloof, a disciplinarian who bore a professionalism and arrogance derived from his position as one of the most experienced bomber pilots in the RAF.

After several operational sorties with 106 Squadron he considered two members of his crew sub-standard and had them replaced. However, when a visiting Air Ministry team considered his 5' 11" tall rear-gunner (Pilot Officer John Wickens) too tall to be a Lancaster gunner, Gibson told them to forget the rules, as his gunner was staying.

Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.

References

  1. London Gazette Issue 34371 published on the 16 February 1937. Page 10 of 68
  2. London Gazette Issue 34457 published on the 23 November 1937. Page 6 of 72
  3. London Gazette Issue 34892 published on the 9 July 1940. Page 13 of 78
  4. London Gazette Issue 35276 published on the 16 September 1941. Page 2 of 38
  5. London Gazette Issue 35791 published on the 17 November 1942. Page 1 of 22
  6. RAF West Malling Memorial Group Retrieved 14 July 2007
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