View Full Version : Wing Commander R.H.M. 'Bobby' Gibbes, DSO, DFC & Bar, OAM

13th Apr 2007, 21:35
Wing Commander R H M "Bobby" Gibbes DSO DFC & Bar OAM[Redt]
1915 - 2007
War Hero, airline owner, hotelier, grazier, coffee grower, larrikin and a bloody good bloke!

Bobby passed away at 9.50 pm Wednesday night, following a stoke last Sunday morning. I think he was 92 years of age.

Some years ago I started a thread in this forum (http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?t=95055&highlight=Bobby+Gibbes), seeking further information to support a submission for an Order of Australia, which was granted with the help of PPRuNe.

Thread here (http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?t=271694) in Dunnunda Forum.

Farewell Mate!

15th Apr 2007, 15:40

Sorry to hear this news.
I have sent you an E Mail and to Bobbys daughter.


PS :- What's a larrikin ??

Feather #3
15th Apr 2007, 22:23
Indeed it was Bobby's squadron who purloined "Black 6". that may have more relevance to our wider community.

G'day ;)

Feather #3
17th Apr 2007, 07:19
Beautiful send-off this afternoon. Mk VIII fly-past prior to the ceremony and 3SQN RAAF F/A-18 4-ship as the guard fired a salute at the end. Great speeches...Bobby would have approved.


G'day ;)

henry crun
17th Apr 2007, 07:44
Mr_Grubby: Larrikin, n: Australian and New Zealand informal.
A rowdy youth, a hooligan.

17th Apr 2007, 11:00
Mr_Grubby. Also a rat bag, a joker, a funny bugger, good bloke etc. Bobby was all of those.

I didn't go to the funeral. Not a funeral person and told Bobby's family the next funeral I will probably attend will be my own, but I'm also hoping to miss that.

All reports it was a good affair, as Feather #3 said. The Mk VIII VH-HET (which is painted up in the markings of Bobby's old Spitfire) and a good show of F18's.

Been a few sad departures in recent weeks. Aside from Gibbsie, Sir Bob Norman (RAAF Hudson pilot, founder of Bush Pilot Airways) departed a couple of weeks ago and I heard very second hand today that Clive "Killer" Caldwell also passed away very recently.

Feather #3. Is Black 6 the Bf109 Bobby "acquired" in North Africa? If I remember the story correctly, he claims he acquired it fairly after it's owner obviously abandoned it and he was none too impressed with the RAF taking it off him, especially after the RAAF guys got it serviceable.

Fair skies Bobby. Good trip. My regards to Junior and Blackjack. :ok:

Feather #3
17th Apr 2007, 11:56
In summary regarding Back 6; yes!:rolleyes:

I may be badly paraphrasing, but Jeannie wasn't planned to speak during the service. At the end, she came forward and stated that he made the impossible happen! So true!!

G'day ;)

17th Apr 2007, 21:41
Clive "Killer" Caldwell died 5 Aug 1994. From the book "Clive Caldwell Air Ace" by Kristen Alexander,
" Caldwell had specifically requested that there be no memorial service. But the public and personal accolades could not be stopped. Numerous obituaries appeared in the Australian and English press"

19th Jun 2007, 21:39
House of Representatives, Parliament of Australia

Adjournment Debate – Bobby Gibbes

Delivered: Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Hon Bruce Scott, Member for Maranoa

I rise tonight in the adjournment debate to pay tribute to arguably one of the best fighter pilots this country has even seen - Wing Commander Robert Henry Maxwell Gibbes DSO, DFC and bar, OAM

Mr Speaker, sadly, on 11 April this year, Australia lost another veteran in Wing Commander Gibbes, but his military aviation legacy will live on forever.
Mr Speaker, Bobby, as he was known, did not live in my electorate of Maranoa, but he did visit regularly. However, I thought it was important to outline his extraordinary life and the lasting imprint he has made in both Austraila’s history and the history of New Guinea.

In early 1940, Bobby enlisted in air cadets where he learnt to fly and over his short military career he went on to become one of the most highly decorated aviators. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 28 July 1942 and a Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross on 25 May 1943. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Order on 15 January 1943. Then in mid 2004

Bobby’s service to Australia was recognised with an Order of Australia Medal.
After Bobby completed his pilot training he was posted to 3 Squadron in North Africa where in his two years of service he flew 274 operational sorties and was credited with shooting down 12 enemy aircraft. There where two events during this time which distinguished Bobby Gibbes as a courageous and dedicated airman. On 21 December 1942 in a sheer act of heroism, Bobby landed his aircraft in very rough terrain behind enemy lines to rescue a downed fellow pilot. Bobby discarded the belly tank of the aircraft to lighten the load for take-off and also his parachute to make room for his rescued mate in the cockpit. On take-off the aircraft’s wheels clipped the Wadi trees and one wheel was subsequently lost. Despite the loss of the wheel, Bobby successfully landed the aircraft on one wheel.

Then, Mr Speaker, less than one month later Bobby was shot down in enemy territory. 220 kilometres from safety, he walked west away from his airbase for three days to outwit Rommel’s Africa Corps patrols. He was finally found by a British Patrol and bought back to safety.

From North Africa, Bobby returned to Australia and was posted to Two Operational Training Unit. Here he flew operational training on P-40s, Spitfires, Boomerangs and Wirraways. During a training flight his Spitfire crashed and Bobby received severe injuries and burns to his hands. On the brighter side of this accident was his Red Cross volunteer, Jeannie, who helped care for Bobby in hospital – Mr Speaker, Jeannie later become is wife!
After World War II, Bobby went back to the land for a short period before heading to New Guinea in 1946 where he remained for many years. Bobby made a big impression on the people of New Guinea helping them to develop their country. He started by establishing an airline business called Speik Airways and sold it in 1958 to an airline company which was eventually acquired by Ansett. It was time for another major change in Bobby’s life, so he decided to build a coffee plantation business followed by a hotel business in the Western Highlands of New Guinea. The people of New Guinea are forever grateful for Bobby’s pioneering efforts in the development of their country.

On returning to Australia in his 60s Bobby continued to fly planes until at the age of 85 when civil aviation authorities revoked his licence. He also built a licensed aerobatic Cri Cri aeroplane, sailed a 12.8m catamaran called “Billabong’ from Southhampton to Sydney. It was on this long journey that Bobby was forced to make his first May Day call when he began to take on water. But in true Bobby Gibbes style, he used his initiative and fixed the problem and did not have to be rescued. Then in 1994 Bobby wrote and published his autobiography titled "You Live But Once".

Mr Speaker, Bobby is survived by his wife of 62 years, Jeannie, his two daughters Julie and Robyn and five grandchildren. On behalf of the Australian Government I would like to offer my condolences, albeit belatedly, for their loss. Australia too has lost one of its finest fighter pilots, passionate leaders, and above all a true blue Australian larrikin. Bobby Gibbes, you certainly lived once, but to the absolute fullest and we salute you.