Guy Gibson

Guy Gibson, the son of a civil servant, was born on 12th August, 1918. Educated at St Edward's School in Oxford, he joined the Royal Air Force in 1936 and by the outbreak of the Second World War had become a bomber pilot with 83 Squadron. .

Gibson won the Distinguished Flying Cross in July 1940 on Bomber Command's first raid of the war. After completing his first tour of duty he avoided the normal six-month rest from operations at a flying training establishment by obtaining a transfer to Fighter Command. In his new role as a night fighter he obtained four kills and won a bar to his DFC..

At the age of 23 Gibson was promoted to the rank of wing commander and in April 1942 was posted back to Bomber Command. Over the next eleven months he led 106 Squadron and flew 172 sorties before taking over the 617 Squadron..

In February, 1943, the Royal Air Force decided to plan an attack on the five hydroelectric dams on which the Ruhr industrial area depended. Barnes Wallis advised the Royal Air Force to use the new bouncing bomb he had been developing at the National Physics Laboratory in Teddington. .

Gibson was selected to carry out the highly dangerous Dambusters Raid. The success of the operation involved precision bombing. The cylindrical bombs developed by Barnes had to be dropped from 60 feet to skip into the dam face and roll down it to explode at a depth that triggered a pressure fuse. The pilots had to judge the critical release point by using dual spotlights whose beams converged vertically at 60 feet..

On the night of 16th May, 1943, Gibson led 19 Avro Lancasters, each carrying one bomb. It took five attempts to breach the Moehne Dam. Gibson then led the three remaining Lancasters to attack the Eder Dam. Only 11 of Gibson's 19 bombers survived the mission..

Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross for his role in the Dambusters mission. Sent on a lecture tour of the United States, he wrote the book, Enemy Coast Ahead and became prospective Conservative Party candidate for Macclesfield. .

Gibson returned to duty in June 1944. On the 19th September, 1944, Gibson flew his De Havilland Mosquito as master bomber in a raid on Rheydt. He never arrived home and later it was discovered that Gibson and his navigator, James Warwick, had been killed when the plane crashed in the Netherlands.

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