b. 12/08/1918 Simla, India. d. 19/09/1944 Steenbergen, Holland
Gibson was born in Simla, India, during the British Raj, the son of Alexander James Gibson and Norah Gibson. He moved with his family to Porthleven, Cornwall, England in 1924 aged six. At the age of eight, he attended St Georges's Prep School in Folkestone, Kent. His education continued at St Edward's School, Oxford.
In 1936 he joined the RAF, becoming an Acting Pilot Officer with effect from and with seniority of 31 January 1937 and a Pilot 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, flying the Handley Page Hampden. In July 1940 he won the Distinguished Flying Cross. 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, avoiding the normal six-month rest from operations at a flying training establishment. He was posted to 29 Squadron flying Bristol Blenheims in a day fighter and bomber escort role.
This officer served as a night bomber pilot at the beginning of the war and quickly established a reputation as an outstanding operational pilot. In addition to taking the fullest possible share in all normal operations, he made single-handed attacks during his "rest" nights on such highly defended objectives as the German battleship Tirpitz, then completing in Wilhelmshaven.
When his tour of operational duty was concluded, he asked for a further operational posting and went to a night-fighter unit instead of being posted for instructional duties. In the course of his second operational tour, he destroyed at least three enemy bombers and contributed much to the raising and development of new night-fighter formations.
After a short period in a training unit, he again volunteered for operational duties and returned to night bombers. Both as an operational pilot and as leader of his squadron, he achieved outstandingly successful results and his personal courage knew no bounds. Berlin, Cologne, Danzig, Gdynia, Genoa, Le Creusot, Milan, Nuremberg and Stuttgart were among the targets he attacked by day and by night.
On the conclusion of his third operational tour, Wing Commander Gibson pressed strongly to be allowed to remain on operations and he was selected to command a squadron then forming for special tasks. Under his inspiring leadership, this squadron has now executed one of the most devastating attacks of the war—the breaching of the Moehne and Eder dams.
The task was fraught with danger and difficulty. Wing Commander Gibson personally made the initial attack on the Moehne dam. Descending to within a few feet of the water and taking the full brunt of the antiaircraft defences, he delivered his attack with great accuracy. Afterwards he circled very low for 30 minutes, drawing the enemy fire on himself in order to leave as free a run as possible to the following aircraft which were attacking the dam in turn.
Wing Commander Gibson then led the remainder of his force to the Eder dam where, with complete disregard for his own safety, he repeated his tactics and once more drew on himself the enemy fire so that the attack could be successfully developed. Wing Commander Gibson has completed over 170 sorties, involving more than 600 hours operational flying. Throughout his operational career, prolonged exceptionally at his own request, he has shown leadership, determination and valour of the highest order.
He was killed when his aircraft crashed over Steenbergen in Holland. He was a victim of friendly fire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL AIR FORCE MUSEUM, HENDON, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: KRUISLAND CEMETERY, STEENBERGEN, HOLLAND.
Picture - Thomas Stewart
Porthleven War Memorial and close up
Porthleven Cemetery Memorial
Steenbergen Memorial, Netherlands
32 Aberdeen Place, St Johns Wood, London
Dambusters Memorial, Woodhall Spa
2 Archer Road, Penarth
Picture - Steve Hoar
Marrying Eva Moore in 1940 in Penarth
Yorkshire Air Museum (Stewart May)
Victory Services Club, London (Alastair Kennedy-Rose)