Guy Gibson
Overview
Wing Commander
Wing Commander (rank)
Wing commander is a commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many other Commonwealth countries...

 Guy Penrose Gibson VC
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

, DSO
Distinguished Service Order
The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

 & Bar
Medal bar
A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. It is most commonly used to indicate the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, and multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the...

, DFC
Distinguished Flying Cross (United Kingdom)
The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and other services, and formerly to officers of other Commonwealth countries, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against...

 & Bar
Medal bar
A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. It is most commonly used to indicate the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, and multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the...

, RAF
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 (12 August 1918 – 19 September 1944), was the first CO
Commanding officer
The commanding officer is the officer in command of a military unit. Typically, the commanding officer has ultimate authority over the unit, and is usually given wide latitude to run the unit as he sees fit, within the bounds of military law...

 of the Royal Air Force's 617 Squadron
No. 617 Squadron RAF
No. 617 Squadron is a Royal Air Force aircraft squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. It currently operates the Tornado GR4 in the ground attack and reconnaissance role...

, which he led in the "Dam Busters" raid (Operation Chastise
Operation Chastise
Operation Chastise was an attack on German dams carried out on 16–17 May 1943 by Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron, subsequently known as the "Dambusters", using a specially developed "bouncing bomb" invented and developed by Barnes Wallis...

) in 1943, resulting in the destruction of two large dams in the Ruhr area
Ruhr Area
The Ruhr, by German-speaking geographers and historians more accurately called Ruhr district or Ruhr region , is an urban area in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. With 4435 km² and a population of some 5.2 million , it is the largest urban agglomeration in Germany...

. He was awarded the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 and died later in the war.
Gibson was born in Simla
Shimla
Shimla , formerly known as Simla, is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh. In 1864, Shimla was declared the summer capital of the British Raj in India. A popular tourist destination, Shimla is often referred to as the "Queen of Hills," a term coined by the British...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, during the British Raj
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

, the son of Alexander James Gibson and Norah Gibson.
Encyclopedia
Wing Commander
Wing Commander (rank)
Wing commander is a commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many other Commonwealth countries...

 Guy Penrose Gibson VC
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

, DSO
Distinguished Service Order
The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

 & Bar
Medal bar
A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. It is most commonly used to indicate the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, and multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the...

, DFC
Distinguished Flying Cross (United Kingdom)
The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and other services, and formerly to officers of other Commonwealth countries, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against...

 & Bar
Medal bar
A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. It is most commonly used to indicate the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, and multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the...

, RAF
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 (12 August 1918 – 19 September 1944), was the first CO
Commanding officer
The commanding officer is the officer in command of a military unit. Typically, the commanding officer has ultimate authority over the unit, and is usually given wide latitude to run the unit as he sees fit, within the bounds of military law...

 of the Royal Air Force's 617 Squadron
No. 617 Squadron RAF
No. 617 Squadron is a Royal Air Force aircraft squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. It currently operates the Tornado GR4 in the ground attack and reconnaissance role...

, which he led in the "Dam Busters" raid (Operation Chastise
Operation Chastise
Operation Chastise was an attack on German dams carried out on 16–17 May 1943 by Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron, subsequently known as the "Dambusters", using a specially developed "bouncing bomb" invented and developed by Barnes Wallis...

) in 1943, resulting in the destruction of two large dams in the Ruhr area
Ruhr Area
The Ruhr, by German-speaking geographers and historians more accurately called Ruhr district or Ruhr region , is an urban area in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. With 4435 km² and a population of some 5.2 million , it is the largest urban agglomeration in Germany...

. He was awarded the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 and died later in the war.

Early life and career

Gibson was born in Simla
Shimla
Shimla , formerly known as Simla, is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh. In 1864, Shimla was declared the summer capital of the British Raj in India. A popular tourist destination, Shimla is often referred to as the "Queen of Hills," a term coined by the British...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, during the British Raj
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

, the son of Alexander James Gibson and Norah Gibson. He moved with his family to Porthleven
Porthleven
Porthleven is a town, civil parish and fishing port in Cornwall, United Kingdom, near Helston. It is the most southerly port on the island of Great Britain and was originally developed as a harbour of refuge, when this part of the Cornish coastline was recognised as a black spot for wrecks in days...

, Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 in 1924 aged six. At the age of eight, he attended St Georges's Prep School
Preparatory school (UK)
In English language usage in the former British Empire, the present-day Commonwealth, a preparatory school is an independent school preparing children up to the age of eleven or thirteen for entry into fee-paying, secondary independent schools, some of which are known as public schools...

 in Folkestone
Folkestone
Folkestone is the principal town in the Shepway District of Kent, England. Its original site was in a valley in the sea cliffs and it developed through fishing and its closeness to the Continent as a landing place and trading port. The coming of the railways, the building of a ferry port, and its...

, Kent. His education continued at St Edward's School, Oxford.

In 1936 he joined the RAF, becoming an Acting Pilot Officer
Acting Pilot Officer
Acting Pilot Officer is the lowest commissioned grade in the Royal Air Force, being immediately junior to Pilot Officer. Unlike other RAF ranks which officers may hold in an acting capacity, Acting Pilot Officer is maintained as a separate grade. It normally denotes an officer who has recently...

 with effect from and with seniority of 31 January 1937 and a Pilot Officer
Pilot Officer
Pilot officer is the lowest commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many other Commonwealth countries. It ranks immediately below flying officer...

 on 16 November 1937, learning to fly at No.2 Flying Training School at RAF Scopwick in Lincolnshire. By the outbreak of the Second World War he was a bomber pilot with 83 Squadron
No. 83 Squadron RAF
No. 83 Squadron RAF was a Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force squadron active from 1917 until 1969. It was operative during both World War I and World War II.-Establishment and early service:...

, flying the Handley Page Hampden
Handley Page Hampden
The Handley Page HP.52 Hampden was a British twin-engine medium bomber of the Royal Air Force serving in the Second World War. With the Whitley and Wellington, the Hampden bore the brunt of the early bombing war over Europe, taking part in the first night raid on Berlin and the first 1,000-plane...

. In July 1940 he won the Distinguished Flying Cross
Distinguished Flying Cross (United Kingdom)
The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and other services, and formerly to officers of other Commonwealth countries, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against...

. 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
RAF Fighter Command
RAF Fighter Command was one of three functional commands of the Royal Air Force. It was formed in 1936 to allow more specialised control of fighter aircraft. It served throughout the Second World War, gaining recognition in the Battle of Britain. The Command continued until 17 November 1943, when...

, avoiding the normal six-month rest from operations at a flying training establishment. He was posted to 29 Squadron
No. 29 Squadron RAF
No. 29 Squadron of the Royal Air Force was first raised in 1915, and is one of the world's oldest fighter squadrons. The second British squadron to receive the Eurofighter Typhoon, it is currently the Operational Conversion Unit for the RAF's newest fighter.-Service in World War I:This unit was...

 flying Bristol Blenheim
Bristol Blenheim
The Bristol Blenheim was a British light bomber aircraft designed and built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company that was used extensively in the early days of the Second World War. It was adapted as an interim long-range and night fighter, pending the availability of the Beaufighter...

s in a day fighter and bomber escort role.

As a night fighter pilot flying the Bristol Beaufighter
Bristol Beaufighter
The Bristol Type 156 Beaufighter, often referred to as simply the Beau, was a British long-range heavy fighter modification of the Bristol Aeroplane Company's earlier Beaufort torpedo bomber design...

 with 29 Squadron
No. 29 Squadron RAF
No. 29 Squadron of the Royal Air Force was first raised in 1915, and is one of the world's oldest fighter squadrons. The second British squadron to receive the Eurofighter Typhoon, it is currently the Operational Conversion Unit for the RAF's newest fighter.-Service in World War I:This unit was...

 he claimed four kills in 99 sorties. On 12 March 1941 he claimed a bomber of KG 26 over Skegness
Skegness
Skegness is a seaside town and civil parish in the East Lindsey district of Lincolnshire, England. Located on the Lincolnshire coast of the North Sea, east of the city of Lincoln it has a total resident population of 18,910....

, and another two nights later. On 8 April he was about to land at Wellingore
Wellingore
Wellingore is a small rural village in Lincolnshire, approximately south of Lincoln, England on the A607 in the district of North Kesteven. It is just south of Navenby.-History:...

 air base when his fighter was strafed by a Junkers Ju 88 'intruder' flown by Feldwebel Hans Hahn
Hans Hahn (night fighter pilot)
Hans Hahn was a Luftwaffe night fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Hans Hahn was killed on 11 October 1941 after his JU...

 of I./NJG 2, wounding his radar operator Sgt. Bell. Another bomber (a Ju 88 of KG 77) was claimed in flames on 3/4 May, and on 6 July downed a Heinkel He 111 of KG 4 near Sheerness
Sheerness
Sheerness is a town located beside the mouth of the River Medway on the northwest corner of the Isle of Sheppey in north Kent, England. With a population of 12,000 it is the largest town on the island....

. His final night fighter operations were in December. and he won a bar to his DFC. His radar operator on all his successful claims was Sgt. R.H.James, who was awarded a DFM.

In November 1942 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Service Order
The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

. Whilst with 29 Squadron, based at RAF West Malling
RAF West Malling
RAF West Malling was a Royal Air Force station near West Malling in Kent, England.Originally used as a landing area during the first World War, the site opened as a private landing ground and in 1930, then known as Kingshill, home to the Maidstone School of Flying, before being renamed West Malling...

, Gibson
said "Of all the airfields in Great Britain. Here many say, including myself, we have the most pleasant".

At the start of 1942 Gibson was transferred to 51 OTU as Chief Flying Instructor. A General Aircraft Cygnet
General Aircraft Cygnet
|-References:****-See also:...

 which he flew twice whilst at the OTU is preserved at the National Museum of Flight in Scotland. In April 1942 he was promoted to Wing Commander and at 23 he was posted back to command 106 Squadron
No. 106 Squadron RAF
No. 106 Squadron RAF was a Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force squadron active from 1917 until 1919. It was also operative during World War II and in the post war period until 1963.- Establishment and early service :...

 RAF Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command controlled the RAF's bomber forces from 1936 to 1968. During World War II the command destroyed a significant proportion of Nazi Germany's industries and many German cities, and in the 1960s stood at the peak of its postwar military power with the V bombers and a supplemental...

. During the next 11 months he led 106, flying the Avro Manchester
Avro Manchester
|-See also:-References:NotesCitationsBibliography* Buttler, Tony. British Secret Projects: Fighters and Bombers 1935–1950. Hickley, UK: Midland Publishing, 2004. ISBN 978-1857801798....

 and then the Avro Lancaster
Avro Lancaster
The Avro Lancaster is a British four-engined Second World War heavy bomber made initially by Avro for the Royal Air Force . It first saw active service in 1942, and together with the Handley Page Halifax it was one of the main heavy bombers of the RAF, the RCAF, and squadrons from other...

, 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
Pilot Officer
Pilot officer is the lowest commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many other Commonwealth countries. It ranks immediately below flying officer...

 John Wickens) too tall to be a Lancaster gunner, Gibson told them to forget the rules, as his gunner was staying.

Operation Chastise

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
Bouncing bomb
A bouncing bomb is a bomb designed specifically to bounce to a target across water in a calculated manner, in order to avoid obstacles such as torpedo nets, and to allow both the bomb's speed on arrival at the target and the timing of its detonation to be pre-determined...

 designed and developed by Barnes Wallis
Barnes Wallis
Sir Barnes Neville Wallis, CBE FRS, RDI, FRAeS , was an English scientist, engineer and inventor. He is best known for inventing the bouncing bomb used by the RAF in Operation Chastise to attack the dams of the Ruhr Valley during World War II...

. The bombs had to be dropped from 60 feet (18.3 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.

Flying at such a low level at night was deemed difficult by even the most experienced pilots. Altimeter
Altimeter
An altimeter is an instrument used to measure the altitude of an object above a fixed level. The measurement of altitude is called altimetry, which is related to the term bathymetry, the measurement of depth underwater.-Pressure altimeter:...

s (using air pressure) were unreliable in the mountainous terrain so close to the ground. To achieve the correct height they fixed two spotlights to the nose and tail of the Lancaster
Avro Lancaster
The Avro Lancaster is a British four-engined Second World War heavy bomber made initially by Avro for the Royal Air Force . It first saw active service in 1942, and together with the Handley Page Halifax it was one of the main heavy bombers of the RAF, the RCAF, and squadrons from other...

 and directed their beams downwards so that they crossed 60 feet (18.3 m) under the craft. The navigator would direct the pilot up or down until the spots touched, forming a figure 8. The bomb aimer found the correct distance from the dam by looking through a simple hand-held wooden triangle with dowel markers. When the dowels lined up with the towers on the dam he released the bomb.

On the night of 16 May 1943, despite the full moon, both Bomber Command and Fighter Command flew a number of sorties which were spread widely over Germany and the Low Countries. As 617 Squadron needed a full moon to carry out their mission, it was thought that the only way they could penetrate German anti-aircraft defences was to fly the whole mission as close to the ground as possible. The 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. However they were forced to use assets to protect key installations like dams to a greater extent than they had before. These assets would have been useful on other fronts.

The propaganda boost given to the allied war effort was considerable.

Victoria Cross

After the Dams raid, Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 in recognition not just of the raid, but his leadership and valour demonstrated as master bomber on many previous sorties. The announcement and accompanying citation for the decoration was published in supplement to the London Gazette
London Gazette
The London Gazette is one of the official journals of record of the British government, and the most important among such official journals in the United Kingdom, in which certain statutory notices are required to be published...

on 28 May 1943, reading:
His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon, England.

After the dams raid

After receiving his VC, Gibson wrote an account of his wartime career, Enemy Coast Ahead
Enemy Coast Ahead
Enemy Coast Ahead is an autobiographical book recounting the World War II flying career of Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC, DSO, DFC. It covers his time in Bomber Command from the very earliest days of war in 1939 through to 1943....

, and was sent on a lecture tour of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 by the government, partly to keep the new hero safe. The tour was "at a time when the first American airmen were coming home 'tour expired' after 25 operations. During questions one young lady asked `Wing Commander Gibson, how many operations have you been on over Germany?' 'One hundred and seventy-four.' There was a stunned silence."

In December 1943 he was awarded the Legion of Merit
Legion of Merit
The Legion of Merit is a military decoration of the United States armed forces that is awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements...

 (Commander) by the President of the United States of America.

Return to operations

Gibson returned to operational duties in 1944 after pestering Bomber Command. After attending Staff College, he was first posted to understudy the Base Air Staff Office (BASO) at 55 Base, RAF East Kirkby
RAF East Kirkby
RAF East Kirkby is a former Royal Air Force base near the village of East Kirkby, south of Horncastle in Lincolnshire, just off the A155. The Greenwich meridian through the base.-History:...

 before taking up his posting as BASO at 54 Base, RAF Coningsby
RAF Coningsby
RAF Coningsby , is a Royal Air Force station in Lincolnshire, England. It has been commanded by Group Captain Martin Sampson since 10 December 2010.-Operational units:...

. On 19 September 1944 he appointed himself as a Master Bomber on that night's raid on Rheydt
Rheydt
Rheydt is a borough of the German city Mönchengladbach, located in the west of North Rhine-Westphalia. Until 1918 and then again from 1933 through 1975 it was an independent city....

 (nowadays a borough of Mönchengladbach
Mönchengladbach
Mönchengladbach , formerly known as Münchengladbach, is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located west of the Rhine half way between Düsseldorf and the Dutch border....

). He did not have a regular navigator and Sqn Ldr Jim Warwick DFC flew with him as his navigator on this raid. They flew from RAF Woodhall Spa
RAF Woodhall Spa
-History:Constructed on farmland 1 km south of Woodhall Spa, the station opened in February 1942 as a satellite station to RAF Coningsby. In August 1943 it became No 54 Base Substation. After victory in Europe the airfield was used as an assembly and kitting out point for Tiger Force...

, a satellite airfield of RAF Coningsby, in a de Havilland Mosquito
De Havilland Mosquito
The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito was a British multi-role combat aircraft that served during the Second World War and the postwar era. It was known affectionately as the "Mossie" to its crews and was also nicknamed "The Wooden Wonder"...

 XX, KB267, of 627 Squadron
No. 627 Squadron RAF
No. 627 Squadron was a Royal Air Force Mosquito aircraft pathfinder bomber squadron that operated during the Second World War.-History:The squadron was formed on 12 November 1943 at RAF Oakington from part of 139 Squadron. It was equipped with the de Havilland Mosquito twin-engined fighter-bomber...

. Gibson helped to control the raid, but on their return, they crashed near Steenbergen
Steenbergen
Steenbergen can mean:*Steenbergen, a town and municipality in North Brabant, the Netherlands*Steenbergen , a hamlet in the south of Drenthe, the Netherlands*Steenbergen , a hamlet in the north of Drenthe, the Netherlands...

, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

. He was 26 years old. On the morning of Gibson's fatal crash, he had been allocated a plane with the serial numbers ending in `13`. He was unhappy believing it to be unlucky, so he commandeered another Squadron aircraft. The aircraft's normal Navigator was Brian Harris.

It had been assumed for many years that he had been shot down, but following the discovery of the wreckage of his plane, it was suggested that a fault with the fuel tank selector had meant that the aircraft had simply run out of fuel. An eye-witness account detailed how his aircraft circled Steenbergen
Steenbergen
Steenbergen can mean:*Steenbergen, a town and municipality in North Brabant, the Netherlands*Steenbergen , a hamlet in the south of Drenthe, the Netherlands*Steenbergen , a hamlet in the north of Drenthe, the Netherlands...

 in the Netherlands, and then heard its engines 'splutter and stop'.

In October 2011 however, the Daily Mail
Daily Mail
The Daily Mail is a British daily middle-market tabloid newspaper owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust. First published in 1896 by Lord Northcliffe, it is the United Kingdom's second biggest-selling daily newspaper after The Sun. Its sister paper The Mail on Sunday was launched in 1982...

 featured an article stating that the possible cause of Gibson's death was a friendly fire
Friendly fire
Friendly fire is inadvertent firing towards one's own or otherwise friendly forces while attempting to engage enemy forces, particularly where this results in injury or death. A death resulting from a negligent discharge is not considered friendly fire...

 incident: Sergeant Bernard McCormack (a rear air gunner in a Lancaster bomber) was in the vicinity of Steenbergen when he mistook Gibson's Mosquito for a similarly profiled Ju 88 and fired 600 rounds, shooting it down.
McCormack died in 1992 but, racked with guilt, had given his wife a taped confession before he died, which was passed to James Cutler, a WWII researcher. Cutler had previously unearthed a report in the National Archives by the crew of the Lancaster describing the incident. He declared himself "satisfied 100 percent" that Guy Gibson was killed by friendly fire and 99.9 percent sure that he was shot down by McCormack's Lancaster. In later life McCormack became the mayor of Holyhead
Holyhead
Holyhead is the largest town in the county of Anglesey in the North Wales. It is also a major port adjacent to the Irish Sea serving Ireland....

 in north Wales.

Memoria

The town of Steenbergen has since honoured Gibson and Warwick by naming a street after each of them (Gibsonstraat and Warwickstraat); as well as after the Lancaster
Avro Lancaster
The Avro Lancaster is a British four-engined Second World War heavy bomber made initially by Avro for the Royal Air Force . It first saw active service in 1942, and together with the Handley Page Halifax it was one of the main heavy bombers of the RAF, the RCAF, and squadrons from other...

 and the Mosquito. The Gibsonstraat and Warwickstraat meet on the exact location of the fatal crash; the location of which is marked by a brick mosaic of the British flag. Gibson's grave is located in Steenbergen en Kruisland R.C. Churchyard, the Netherlands.

The station Headquarters building at RAF Hemswell still stands, on what is now a commercial trading estate and is named Gibson House. Gibson's office is latterly being used as a computer software business.

Barnes Wallis said of Gibson:
For some men of great courage and adventure, inactivity was a slow death. Would a man like Gibson ever have adjusted back to peacetime life? One can imagine it would have been a somewhat empty existence after all he had been through. Facing death had become his drug. He had seen countless friends and comrades perish in the great crusade. Perhaps something in him even welcomed the inevitability he had always felt that before the war ended he would join them in their Bomber Command Valhalla. He had pushed his luck beyond all limits and he knew it. But that was the kind of man he was…a man of great courage, inspiration and leadership. A man born for war…but born to fall in war.


"Bomber" Harris described him as "As great a warrior as this island ever bred".

Porthleven
Porthleven
Porthleven is a town, civil parish and fishing port in Cornwall, United Kingdom, near Helston. It is the most southerly port on the island of Great Britain and was originally developed as a harbour of refuge, when this part of the Cornish coastline was recognised as a black spot for wrecks in days...

 has a Street called Gibson Way named after Gibson, and also in the village cemetery is a memorial bearing his name, which also appears on the village War Memorial overlooking the harbour.

Personal life

Gibson met the actress and show dancer Eve Moore at a party in Coventry during early December 1939 while he was on three days rest leave at his brother’s house. The following year Guy and Eve were married at All Saints Church in Eve's home town of Penarth
Penarth
Penarth is a town and seaside resort in the Vale of Glamorgan , Wales, 5.2 miles south west from the city centre of the Welsh capital city of Cardiff and lying on the north shore of the Severn Estuary at the southern end of Cardiff Bay...

 near Cardiff
Cardiff
Cardiff is the capital, largest city and most populous county of Wales and the 10th largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is Wales' chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for...

 in Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

. Guy Gibson was based at RAF Digby
RAF Digby
RAF Digby is a Royal Air Force station which, since March 2005, has been operated by the Ministry of Defence's Joint Service Signals Organisation, part of the Intelligence Collection Group. Formerly a training and fighter airfield, it is currently a tri-service military signals installation located...

 at the time and for the wedding flew his Blenheim bomber from RAF Wellingore
Navenby
Navenby is a village and civil parish in Lincolnshire, England. Lying south of Lincoln and north-northwest of Sleaford, Navenby has a population of 1,666 and is a dormitory village for Lincoln...

 satellite field in Lincolnshire to RAF Pengam Moors
RAF Pengam Moors
RAF Pengam Moors was a Royal Air Force station and maintenance unit , located on the Pengam Moors area of Tremorfa, 2 miles south east of Cardiff city centre in Wales from June 1938 to January 1946....

 in Cardiff docks.

Eve's parents, Mr and Mrs Ernest Moore, lived in Archer Road, Penarth, and the couple moved in with them while they considered buying a home of their own. Ernest Moore was a keen golfer and invited his new son-in-law to join the Glamorganshire Golf Club
Glamorganshire Golf Club
Glamorganshire Golf Club is located in Lower Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, 7.3 miles south west from the capital city of Cardiff and is one of the oldest golf clubs in Wales...

 as an honorary member.

Gibson spent his post-raid
Operation Chastise
Operation Chastise was an attack on German dams carried out on 16–17 May 1943 by Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron, subsequently known as the "Dambusters", using a specially developed "bouncing bomb" invented and developed by Barnes Wallis...

 leave in Penarth, playing golf most days. While on leave he had a call from the Air Ministry
Air Ministry
The Air Ministry was a department of the British Government with the responsibility of managing the affairs of the Royal Air Force, that existed from 1918 to 1964...

 telling him that he had been awarded the VC. His father-in-law Ernest Moore immediately telephoned the steward at the Glamorganshire and asked to him lay on as many drinks as he could find and the whole family went down to celebrate in style at the clubhouse.

Gibson continued to live unaccompanied in the officers' messes at his various stations and Eve remained at home with her parents, or lodged in local hotels. Gibson died in action shortly after they found a family home in London during 1943, before which they only managed a few weekends together while on leave in Penarth or at various hotels. Eve Gibson died on 3 November 1988 on the same day as Sir Harold "Micky" Martin
Harold Brownlow Martin
Air Marshal Sir Harold Brownlow Morgan "Micky" Martin, KCB, DSO & Bar, DFC & Two Bars, AFC was an Australian pilot in the Royal Air Force....

, also a pilot on the Dambusters Raid.

Legacy

  • A 1955 film, The Dam Busters
    The Dam Busters (film)
    The Dam Busters is a 1955 British Second World War war film starring Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd and directed by Michael Anderson. The film recreates the true story of Operation Chastise when in 1943 the RAF's 617 Squadron attacked the Möhne, Eder and Sorpe dams in Germany with Wallis's...

    , was made of the exploits of 617 Sqn; Gibson was played by Richard Todd
    Richard Todd
    Richard Todd OBE was an Irish-born British stage and film actor and soldier.-Early life:Richard Todd was born as Richard Andrew Palethorpe-Todd in Dublin, Ireland. His father, Andrew William Palethorpe Todd, was an Irish physician and an international Irish rugby player who gained three caps for...

     in the film.
  • Paintings of Gibson feature on the wall of the bar of the Olde Crown pub in Lincoln, a pub that Gibson frequented regularly when he was based at RAF Scampton
    RAF Scampton
    Royal Air Force Station Scampton is a Royal Air Force station situated north of Lincoln in England, near the village of Scampton, on the site of an old First World War landing field.-First World War:...

    .
  • Gibson had a black Labrador called 'Nigger
    Nigger (dog)
    Nigger was a male black labrador retriever belonging to Wing Commander Guy Gibson, and the mascot of 617 Squadron. Nigger died on 16 May 1943, the day before the famous "Dam Busters" raid, when he was hit by a car. He was buried at midnight as Gibson was leading the raid. "Nigger" was the codeword...

    ' - killed in a car accident the morning before the air raid and buried on the base just outside Gibson's office. 'Nigger' was the codeword Gibson used to confirm the breach of the Möhne Dam
    Möhne Reservoir
    The Möhne Reservoir is an artificial lake in North Rhine-Westphalia, some 45 km east of Dortmund. The dam was built between 1908 and 1913 to help control floods, regulate water levels on the Ruhr river downstream, and generate hydropower. Today, the lake is also a tourist attraction...

    .
  • There is a Blue plaque
    Blue plaque
    A blue plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event, serving as a historical marker....

     outside a house on Aberdeen Place, off Edgware Road in London commemorating his occupancy there for a short time in 1943.
  • There is a Blue plaque outside a house on Archer Road, Penarth, South Wales commemorating his residency there between 1940 and 1943.
  • Guy Gibson's RAF flight log is on display at the Windsor Castle public house on Crawford Street, London.
  • Guy Gibson appears in Stephen Baxter
    Stephen Baxter
    Stephen Baxter is a prolific British hard science fiction author. He has degrees in mathematics and engineering.- Writing style :...

    's The Time Ships
    The Time Ships
    The Time Ships is a 1995 science fiction novel by Stephen Baxter. A sequel to The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, it was officially authorized by the Wells estate to mark the centenary of the original's publication. It won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Philip K. Dick Award in 1996, as...

    as an alternative history version of himself who leads the "Chronic Expeditionary Force" back in time from 1944 to the Paleocene Era.

External links

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