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Wg Cdr Guy Gibson VC DFC DSO

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Wg Cdr Guy Gibson VC DFC DSO

Old 19th Sep 2004, 16:44
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Wg Cdr Guy Gibson VC DFC DSO

Today is the day 60 years ago that one of our greatest heroes was killed in action.
He led 617 Squadron on the raid to break down the German Dams in May 1943 (aged 24) and was awarded the VC.

On the 19th September 1944 he flew out of Woodhall Spa on a bombing mission flying a Mosquito from 627 squadron. Having completed the bombing raid, Gibson went on to check anti aircraft positions. Sadly, the mosquito crashed killing both Gibson and his navigator Squadron Leader J.B Warwick.

I don't normally post any messages on this board, but I think this is worth noting.

A proper leader.

Last edited by Doppelganger; 19th Sep 2004 at 16:56.
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Old 19th Sep 2004, 18:04
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Dopelganger

Agree on the date but not much else!

"Having completed the bombing raid, Gibson went on to check anti aircraft positions. Sadly, the mosquito crashed killing Gibson and "

Where on earth did you dig THAT up from?

The guy was brought down after descending to low altitude on the return leg after flying a Master Bomber trip that he was neither trained nor qualified for. At the time he was Base Air Staff Officer at 54 Base and he badgered 5 Group to be allowed to fly the trip after not having been genuinely operational since the Dams Raid. The sortie was not officially authorised as he was not to be exposed to any risk of capture, nor was he a Master Bomber.

The loss has always been controversial, much speculation about the actual reasons being bandied back and forth over the years.
Most reasonable explanation being that, not being current or checked out on the Mosquito, he failed to change fuel tanks, couldn't locate the fuel cocks, engines cut causing the descent , at low level the barometrically fused 250LB marker bombs ignited bringing the aircraft down.
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Old 19th Sep 2004, 18:24
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Not worth remembering then?
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Old 19th Sep 2004, 18:48
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Surely the barometric fuseswould not have been "armed" until they left the aircraft.

All fuses are dumb until dropped then they do their stuff.
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Old 19th Sep 2004, 19:07
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Jimgriff has to be right about the fuses otherwise every hung barometric bomb would go bang on finals!!

As for Gibson VC - obviously a top bloke he used to be on 29 (F) Sqn flying Defiants out of Digby. Interesting though how so many first class leaders in the face of adversity etc also have the "reputation" of being complete ar**s. Could this be peer group envy or is there something in the psychology of the warrior/leader that makes them this way? Discuss.
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Old 19th Sep 2004, 19:36
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Jimgriff and impiger,

Valid point about fusing, the theory arose from eye witnesses who saw the aircraft just before impact and a common theme was a report of the cockpit "glowing."

I don't know much about the marker bombs carried by 5 Group in 1944, but I suppose that they would have been fused in a similar way to conventional HE bombs.

Impiger,

Yes, why do folk like Bader and Gibson have this "reputation" ? Is it maybe because their feats were performed during wartime when propaganda was far more important than the truth? Subsequent films such as Reach for the sky didn't exactly help by giving totally false and idealised portrayals of the characters involved that were easily disproved by anyone who had personal expereince of the man involved.

Also, to perform heroic deeds does not require you to be a saint, why can't you be a hero in a very narrow sense and a complete t***er in every other aspect of your life?
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Old 19th Sep 2004, 19:52
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Far be it for me to query the words of an ex-CO of 29, but I think you'll find that they were in the process of converting from Blenheims to Beaufighters when Gibson arrived.....

Gibson states in his book that 141 Sqn were at Digby at the time - and they flew the Defiant. However, 141 were based in Scotland at the time - perhaps he meant 151 who were at Digby then? They also had Defiants, but only later in the war and at Bramcote, not Digby. The only other squadron at Digby then was 112 with Hurricanes and later Spitfires; the squadron had moved to England in June 1940 and was renumbered as 402 Fighter Squadron on 1 March 1941.

I'm pretty sure, Impiger old chum, that your old Sqn never flew the Defiant.

Last edited by BEagle; 19th Sep 2004 at 20:13.
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Old 19th Sep 2004, 20:03
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I have to agree with BEagle (although I think he means 121 rather than 112, though - 112 were rather busy in sandy places at the time, while 121 were converting from Hurri IIB to Spits). 29(F) doesn't appear to be recorded as ever having used the Defiant.

IIRC, Gibson did very well with 29(F) and shot down a couple of German bombers (I dimly seem to recall reading that it was three, but this was years ago).
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Old 19th Sep 2004, 20:17
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at low level the barometrically fused 250LB marker bombs ignited bringing the aircraft down
Wouldn't he have dropped the marker bombs before making the return flight?
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Old 19th Sep 2004, 21:11
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Nov 4,

No, he was acting as the Master Bomber, the marking was done by dedicated flare force and marker aircraft, the master bomber only carried markers as a back up, they were not dropped on this occasion.
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Old 19th Sep 2004, 21:44
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pr00ne

I met Bader only once and just for a mere 30 minutes or so, but I was left with the firm impression that Kenneth Moore had got pretty close to the mark in his portrayal of him in Reach for the Sky.

But we digress..................
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Old 19th Sep 2004, 22:04
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"Why do folk like Bader and Gibson have this "reputation" ? Is it maybe because their feats were performed during wartime when propaganda was far more important than the truth?"

Not all wartime leaders have the kind of controversial reputation (to put it at its most neutral) that have attached to Bader and Gibson, and it may be that these bloke's neo-Churchillian dogmatic, stubborn, short-fuse pugnaciousness made them more attractive to the PR people, and whose thirst for personal recognition made them seek it out?

No.617 had a host of COs whose military achievements at least equalled Gibson's, but whose flying, man management skills and popularity may have been higher. Not least Leonard Cheshire - and then you have the Bennetts, Embrys, Learoyds, Nettletons, and Searbys of Bomber Command, all of whom were great, high-achieving leaders who were not 'tainted' by some of the shadows on Gibson's historical score sheet. Equally, Fighter Command had dozens of squadron and Wing COs who were better fighter pilots, better leaders and nicer blokes than Bader - you might start with Malan, Johnson, Stanford Tuck and Beamont.....
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Old 19th Sep 2004, 22:14
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In a recent TV documentary, one of chap who claimed to work with Gibson claimed he had a terrible reputation; he then went on to explain that he drank too much and spent his evenings chasing women. Thank goodness that we have come a long way in the last 60 years and behaviour like that is no longer acceptable.
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Old 20th Sep 2004, 10:06
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Most reasonable explanation being that, not being current or checked out on the Mosquito, he failed to change fuel tanks, couldn't locate the fuel cocks, engines cut causing the descent ,
Is that likely?

Why would the pilot be operating the fuel cocks, surely that's the Observer's job? Aren't the fuel cocks behind the pilot's seat in a Mossie, which would certianly make it the Observer's job.
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Old 20th Sep 2004, 10:27
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one of chap who claimed to work with Gibson claimed he had a terrible reputation; he then went on to explain that he drank too much
Of course Churchill was no stranger to the bottle.
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Old 20th Sep 2004, 10:42
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And as for Aristotle......

(Hoping for full lyric)
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Old 20th Sep 2004, 11:09
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As requested:

The Philosophers Drinking Song

Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
who was very rarely stable.
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
who could think you under the table.
David Hume could out consume
Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel,
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
who was just as sloshed as Schlegel.

There's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach ya
'bout the raisin' of the wrist.
Socrates himself was permanently pissed.

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
after half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.
Plato, they say, could stick it away,
'alf a crate of whiskey every day!
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle,
and Hobbes was fond of his Dram.
And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart:
"I drink, therefore I am."

Yes, Socrates himself is particularly missed;
A lovely little thinker, but a bugger when he's pissed.

-- Monty Python
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Old 20th Sep 2004, 11:16
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GO85HITE,

I agree, it is an unlikely explanation and it is probable that the reason Gibson went in will never be known. All that is known for certain is that he was seen descending under what seemed to be control, no flak was seen, the two crew could be seen silhoutted against what appeared to be a fire in the cockpit.

Neither Warwick or Gibson were familiar with the Mosquito aircraft having not carried out a conversion course or been officially checked out on type.

BTW

Like the handle!
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Old 20th Sep 2004, 11:46
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Without wishing to get into a discussion about the man's character, nor into a "Why didn't the poor sods down the back get one" but can someone tell me why he was awarded the VC.
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Old 20th Sep 2004, 12:13
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His Citation reads:

Wing Commander Gibson, whose personal courage knew no bounds, was quickly recognised to be an outstanding operational pilot and leader. He served with conspicuously successful results as a night bomber pilot and also as a night fighter pilot, on operational tours. In addition, on his "rest" nights he made single-handed attacks on highly defended objectives such as the German battleship Tirpitz. Wing Commander Gibson was then selected to command a squadron formed for special tasks. Under his inspiring leadership this squadron executed one of the most devastating attacks of the war - the breaching of the Moehne and Eder dams. Wing Commander Gibson personally made the initial attack on the Moehne dam. Descending to within a few feet of the water, he delivered his attack with great accuracy. He then circled very low for thirty minutes, drawing the enemy fire and permitting as free a run as possible to the following aircraft. He repeated these tactics in the attack on the Eder dam. Throughout his operational career, prolonged exceptionally at his own request, he has shown leadership, determination and valour of the highest order

By all accounts he was a hard taskmaster who did not suffer fools gladly. Given the events of the time and the fact that men such as himself commanded in the certain knowledge they were sending men to there deaths, strong and forceful leadership was surely needed. He was also a man who was most certainly class orientated. His actions in dealing with the two crews who "failed" during the dams raid surely prove his attitude toward those he considered to be of lower standing than himself.
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