Gibson, Guy Penrose
Guy Gibson, born 12-08-1918 in Simla, India, joined the RAF in 1936, becoming an Acting Pilot Officer with effect from and with seniority of 31-01-1937 and a Pilot Officer on 16-11-1937, learning to fly at No.3 Flying Training School at RAF Scopwick in Lincolnshire. By the outbreak of the Second World War he was a bomber pilot with 83rd Squadron , flying the Handley Page Hampden. In July 1940 he won the Distinguished Flying Cross. On the night of 24/25 August 1940 his gunners claimed the probable destruction of a Dornier Do 17 over Lorient docks. After completing his first tour of duty of 27 operational sorties, Gibson volunteered for RAF Fighter Command, avoiding the normal six-month rest from operations at a flying training establishment. In 1943 he was selected to command the new 617 Squadron asked to destroy dams in the Ruhr area. To accomplish this they were provided with the bouncing bomb designed and developed by Barnes Wallis. The bombs had to be dropped from 60 feet (18 m) from a predefined distance to skip across the water into the dam face and then roll down it to explode at predefined depth.
To stand any chance of success Operation Chastise had to be flown at night. On the night of 16-05-1943 19 Lancasters carried one bomb each. It took five attempts to breach the Moehne Dam. Gibson then led the three remaining Lancasters to attack and breach the Eder Dam. Two other dams were attacked but not breached. 11 of the bombers survived the mission, 53 crew members died in the raid. The devastation caused by the raids was extensive but the Germans managed to rebuild and recover much more quickly than was expected. After the Dams raid, Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross in recognition not just of the raid, but his leadership and valor demonstrated as master bomber on many previous sorties. He received the award of king George VI (see George). Gibson returned to operational duties in 1944 after pestering Bomber Command and was killed along with his navigator Squadron Leader Jim Warwick,
on a bombing raid on Rheydt, in this town Joseph Goebbels (see Goebbels)was born, nowadays a borough of Mönchengladbach, when his de Havilland Mosquito XX, KB267, crashed near Steenbergen, the Netherlands, on 19-09-1944. (see About) An eye-witness account detailed how his aircraft circled Steenbergen in the Netherlands and then heard its engines 'splutter and stop'. The town of Steenbergen has since honoured Gibson and Warwick by naming a street after each of them (Gibsonstreet and Warwickstreet). Gibson, age 26, is buried on the civil cemetery of Steenbergen next to his navigator Jim Warwick.