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Fighter Aces & Famous Pilots



Guy Gibson
WW2 Bomber Pilot

Full Name: Guy Penrose Gibson
Lifespan: August
12, 1918 – September 19, 1944
Bomber Pilot

Although he died at the young age of 26, he left the British people with a strong legacy and influence. At a young age, he showed a great deal of interest in flying which made him not only succeed as a bomber pilot but also as a squadron commander.

Guy Gibson

Background and Early Life
Guy Gibson was born in Simla, India to a middle class family. Since his parents were divorced, his mother was the one taking care of him and his 2 other siblings. They moved to Penzance and he was enrolled in West Cornwall College, the same school as his sister. When they moved to London, Gibson was sent to a boarding school, Earl’s Avenue School which was a Preparatory School later known as St. George’s in Folkstone, Kent. In 1932, he enrolled in St, Edward’s School in Oxford. As a student, he was an average learner. His interests included science, photography and aviation. He also loved reading books like the Arthurian Legends and Shakespeare.


Personal Life and Family
Guy Gibson was born on August 12, 1918 to Alexander James Gibson and Leonora Mary Gibson. His father worked as an officer in the Imperial Indian Forestry Service and was later on promoted as the Chief Conservator of Forests for the Simla Hill States in 1922. At the age of 6, his parents were separated and he and his siblings were under the care of their mother. His siblings were, Alexander and Joan. Gibson met Evelyn Mary Moore in December 1939 when she was performing in the revue entitles Come Out to Play which was staged in the New Hippodrome Theater Coventry. In October 1940, Gibson proposed to her and they got married on November 23 in the Penarth’s Anglican Church.

Work and Career
Gibson was an essential pilot during World War II.

Bomber Command 83 Squadron (1st tour of duty)
At the commencement of WW2
Guy Gibson was with 83 Squardon but during the initial "Phoney War" period saw little action.

RAF Coastal Command
Gibson was seconded to Coastal Command and completed 34 operations which included, laying mines in various seaways and harbour entrances  "gardening", and also attacking shipping, coastal installations and economic targets.

Fighter Command 29 Squadron (2nd tour of duty)
Following the completion of his first tour of duty Gibson was Transferred from Bomber Command to Fighter Command's 29 squadron in November 1940, they were operating Bristol Blenheims which had been designed as bombers not fighters, he soon acquired a few enemies in the new squadron because he was seen to be part of the reform team that was being brought in due to previous severe disciplinary problems within the Squadron. But this did not stop him from succeeding in combat, in fact, he was soon promoted and his number of kills increased steadily while he flew with the squadron.

Bomber Command 106 Squadron (3rd tour of duty)
As the new Wing Commander of 106 Squadron, he boosted the morale of the Squadron by training them to be more aggressive in their attacks and to take more risks. As a commander, he did not accept any interference, especially in the handling of his Aircrews.

Book "Enemy Coast Ahead" !
At the end of Gibson's third tour of duty and a total of 172 sorties, he was commanded to write a book,
this came as a surprise to Guy who had wanted to transfer back to Bomber Command for a fourth tour of duty! It is noteworthy that the resultant book "Enemy Coast Ahead" can still be purchased today.

Bomber Command 617 Squadron (4th tour of duty)
With the commencement of Guy Gibson's fourth tour of duty he got his wish and was tasked to form a new "Special New Squadron" to be known as as 617 and in later years referred to as the "Dambuster Squadron".

Lancaster B.III Special with the "Upkeep" bouncing bomb

Specially adapted Avro Lancaster B.III with the "Upkeep" bouncing bomb

The Squadron was equipped with "Special" Lancaster B.III aircraft as pictured above, the cylindrical "Upkeep" bomb designed by Barnes Wallis was spun with a hydraulic motor via a chain drive prior to being dropped, this provided "back spin" to the bomb to allow it to bounce across the surface of water. On on 16–17 May 1943 Guy Gibson lead 19 aircraft of 617 Squadron on a sortie to attack the Dams in the German Ruhr valley. Two of the dams, the Möhne and Eder were breached and a third damaged. This dangerous and spectacular attack earned Guy Gibson the Victoria Cross and was later immortalised in the 1955 Movie "The Dam Busters".

On September 19, 1944, Guy Gibson was once again flying bombers when he received orders to prepare for a bombing raid. The areas to be bombed were to be pre marked marked with red, green and yellow flares. Pathfinder de Havilland Mosquito B.XX bombers were designated to drop the coloured marker flares, and controllers for these aircraft had to be chosen. Gibson was assigned to be a controller although it had been rumoured that he might lack the precision marking skills himself, having never been tasked to do this before unlike many other available pilots.

During the operation, the flare markers for the Red area were badly placed resulting in the bombing raid being a failure. Gibson had not been able to do this himself as his aircrafts Target Indicators were malfunctioning. The poor positioning of the marker flares caused so much confusion to the following bombers that they dropped only a small percentage of their bombs on the designated target. His aircraft was not observed departing the target area and did not return to the airfield and was consequently reported missing. At around 22:30, a report was received that his plane had crashed at Steenbergen in the Netherlands and Guy Gibson had been killed. The Steenbergen deputy mayor ensured he had a proper funeral and he was laid to rest in the towns Roman Catholic Cemetery.

Influence & Legacy

  • Gibson’s grave, located in the Steenbergen’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, is maintained by Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
  • Steenbergen honored Gibson by naming a street after, the "Gibonstraat". This street is the exact location of the crash.
  • A memorial park was also named after him, the Dambusters Memorial Park which is also in the town of Steenbergen.
  • Gibson Way is another street named after Gibson, and can be found in Porthleven.
  • The first serialization of his book "Enemy Coast Ahead" occurred in December 1944 and was published 2 years later by Michael Joseph.
  • A film portrayal Gibson can be seen in the film "The Dam Busters" which make use of No. 617 Squadron. Richard Todd played the role of Gibson in the Movie.

    Medals and Awards

    • Victoria Cross awarded on the 28th May, 1943.
    • Distinguished Service Order ; Acting Wg-Cdr G.P. Gibson, 106 Sqn
    • Bar to the Distinguished Service Order; Acting Wg-Cdr G.P. Gibson, 106 Sqn
    • Distinguished Flying Cross; Fg Off. G.P. Gibson, 83 Sqn.
    • Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross; Acting Sqn Ldr. G.P. Gibson, 29 Sqn
    • Legion of Merit; 3 December 1943


    Fast Facts

  • Occupation: Fighter Pilot
  • Birthday: August 12, 1918
  • Place of Birth: Simla, India
  • Nickname: Bumptious Bastard
  • Date of Death: September 19, 1944
  • Place of Death: Steenbergen, Netherlands
  • ;

    Guy Gibson


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    Guy Gibson - WW2 Bomber Pilot


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