A Time to Remember Gibby

I got a few comment from readers who are related to Gibby.

One from Patricia…

This information is remarkable and historic. I never met my uncle, Bill Gibbs, but my dad, his brother, always struggled with the fact that the body was never recovered and therefore there was no grave site or memorial in memory of Bill Gibbs. I only wish my dad were alive to see that there was something to honour his brother.

One from Roy…

I got a picture I could share with you.  How can I post it?

This pilot was with No. 128 Squadron is mentioned in this book.

All the Fine Young Eagles

by David L. Bashow ISBN; 0-7737-2976-3

Pages 248-249.

After a few rounds from the bar, a discussion developed regarding the merits of the Wildcat versus the Hurricane. It continued until the American issued a challenge they would have four Wildcats at Torbay the following morning. The tactics were simple. Four pairs, each consisting of a Wildcat and a Hurricane, would meet at an agreed upon altitude, in each of the four quadrants of the sky, North. West. South and East of the airport. They would meet, fly in formation for a minute or two, then break up and approach each other head on. From then on it was a straight dogfight, with each pilot trying to get on the other fellow’s tail. Flight Commanders were not allowed to fly on either side. We were part of the large audience assembled on the ground to see the show. Everything went according to plan. The aircraft met, flew in formation for a minute or two, and then began dog fighting. In a couple of minutes there were four Hurricanes on the tails of four Wildcats, and they stayed there, to great applause and shouts from the audience below.

After landing, everyone adjourned to the hangar to hash over the situation. The Americans seemed completely nonplused by the turn of events. They could not understand how things could have turned out the way they had. It must have been some kind of aberration that could never happen again, so they issued another challenge for the following afternoon. This time, they announced. Flight Commanders could fly, so I decided to get in on the fun in Hurricane 5485. That afternoon the two readiness aircraft: equipped with depth charges**, were sitting on the tarmac.

“Butch” Washburn and “Gibby” Gibbs were the readiness pilots that day and Butch said to me. “You know Bill, I think we can take on these buggers with those readiness aircraft.” “Why not?” I replied … “Have a go.” We lined up a fourth pilot and the exercise was carried out all over again with four Hurricanes on the tails of four Wildcats once again. Butch Washburn was so keen that he stayed on the Wildcat’s tail until it landed on the runway.

The Americans were forced to admit that the Hurricane was the better aircraft. Even when it was ladened with depth charges. We had a party in the Mess that night with the Americans becoming more generous and more lavish with their praise as the evening wore on. According to some of them, if 128 Squadron, complete with aircraft and personnel, could suddenly be transported to the Pacific Theater, we would make short work of the Japanese Air Force. Yes, it was a great party …

pages 245-46;

Flying at Torbay took on an operational atmosphere. The Cansos and Venturas were almost constantly on patrol, and they occasionally returned to base after encountering a German Submarine. These attacks bolstered everyone’s morale. Shortly after we reached Torbay, someone in our armament section devised a way to make bomb racks out of the angle iron used in the double bunks so familiar to all service personnel. The racks were okayed by Eastern Air Command Headquarters in Halifax, and for the rest of the time at Torbay we were able to carry a depth charge under each wing. Four of our Hurricanes were fitted with these racks, and two aircraft were kept on constant readiness. Also, with twelve machine guns on each aircraft, the Hurricanes constituted a very formidable weapon against an enemy submarine.

A British Major, an armament expert, arrived about this time from London. The purpose of his visit was to discuss with aircrew the latest tactics of German submarines. Instead of diving immediately on seeing a patrol aircraft, the subs were now armed with deck guns and were shooting back. Several patrol aircraft had been shot down. All available crew from the three Torbay squadrons were called together for a talk by the Major, who spent most of his time raving about the Hurricanes armed with depth charges that he had seen on the flight line. “In all my travels to squadrons around the worId,” he said, “I have never seen such a deadly combination. The Number One aircraft could clear the deck of all living things with one burst from his twelve machine guns, and Number Two could drop his depth charges at leisure. It’s marvelous!” After his talks, the Major visited our Squadron and talked with the pilots. He left an Air Ministry address with Squadron Leader Cannon, the CO, and made him promise to forward to him the results of any encounters a Hurricane might have with a German submarine. “No matter where I am in the world, I’ll get the message.” There was no message to pass on to the Major for two reasons. Firstly, we never did get to attack a German sub, and secondly, the same day as his visit, a Canso carrying the Major to Botwood, Newfoundland, crashed while landing on glassy water, killing everyone on board, including the Major.”

“Butch” Washburn did not return home after the war just like William Robert Gibbs.

Both were killed flying Typhoons.

This is taken from the Canadian Virtual War Memorial

In memory of
Flying Officer

 WILLIAM ROBERT GIBBS

who died on February 28, 1945

Military Service:

  • Service Number: J/27239
  • Age: 21
  • Force: Air Force
  • Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force
  • Division: 440 Sqdn.

I sent all the pictures I had from Walter Neil Dove’s collection to the CVWM site and added Roy’s picture of Gibby.

billy gibbs Most people don’t know how dangerous flying Typhoons were. Click here for just a glimpse.

Gibby

Hi Pierre

attached is a picture of William Gibbs.

Roy

billy gibbs

I got a few comments this week on this blog that pays homage to RCAF 128 Squadron. I was a little surprised because this blog was not getting to much attention.

This picture was sent by Roy. He had written this comment…

Thanks for posting this. I never got to meet my cousin Bill because I was born 14 years after his death.

I contacted Roy…

Hi,

Just send your picture at this e-mail address.
I will post it with all the comments about Gibby.

Thank you so much for sharing

Pierre

Thank you so much for sharing.

Flying Officer Dean Jerome Washburn, Service Number: J/29339

This pilot who was with No. 128 Squadron is also mentioned in this book.

He’s “Butch” Washburn.

All the Fine Young Eagles

by David L. Bashow ISBN; 0-7737-2976-3

Pages 248-249.

After a few rounds from the bar, a discussion developed regarding the merits of the Wildcat versus the Hurricane. It continued until the American issued a challenge they would have four Wildcats at Torbay the following morning. The tactics were simple. Four pairs, each consisting of a Wildcat and a Hurricane, would meet at an agreed upon altitude, in each of the four quadrants of the sky, North. West. South and East of the airport. They would meet, fly in formation for a minute or two, then break up and approach each other head on. From then on it was a straight dogfight, with each pilot trying to get on the other fellow’s tail. Flight Commanders were not allowed to fly on either side. We were part of the large audience assembled on the ground to see the show. Everything went according to plan. The aircraft met, flew in formation for a minute or two, and then began dog fighting. In a couple of minutes there were four Hurricanes on the tails of four Wildcats, and they stayed there, to great applause and shouts from the audience below.

After landing, everyone adjourned to the hangar to hash over the situation. The Americans seemed completely nonplused by the turn of events. They could not understand how things could have turned out the way they had. It must have been some kind of aberration that could never happen again, so they issued another challenge for the following afternoon. This time, they announced. Flight Commanders could fly, so I decided to get in on the fun in Hurricane 5485. That afternoon the two readiness aircraft: equipped with depth charges**, were sitting on the tarmac.

“Butch” Washburn and “Gibby” Gibbs were the readiness pilots that day and Butch said to me. “You know Bill, I think we can take on these buggers with those readiness aircraft.” “Why not?” I replied … “Have a go.” We lined up a fourth pilot and the exercise was carried out all over again with four Hurricanes on the tails of four Wildcats once again. Butch Washburn was so keen that he stayed on the Wildcat’s tail until it landed on the runway.

The Americans were forced to admit that the Hurricane was the better aircraft. Even when it was ladened with depth charges. We had a party in the Mess that night with the Americans becoming more generous and more lavish with their praise as the evening wore on. According to some of them, if 128 Squadron, complete with aircraft and personnel, could suddenly be transported to the Pacific Theater, we would make short work of the Japanese Air Force. Yes, it was a great party …

pages 245-46;

Flying at Torbay took on an operational atmosphere. The Cansos and Venturas were almost constantly on patrol, and they occasionally returned to base after encountering a German Submarine. These attacks bolstered everyone’s morale. Shortly after we reached Torbay, someone in our armament section devised a way to make bomb racks out of the angle iron used in the double bunks so familiar to all service personnel. The racks were okayed by Eastern Air Command Headquarters in Halifax, and for the rest of the time at Torbay we were able to carry a depth charge under each wing. Four of our Hurricanes were fitted with these racks, and two aircraft were kept on constant readiness. Also, with twelve machine guns on each aircraft, the Hurricanes constituted a very formidable weapon against an enemy submarine.

A British Major, an armament expert, arrived about this time from London. The purpose of his visit was to discuss with aircrew the latest tactics of German submarines. Instead of diving immediately on seeing a patrol aircraft, the subs were now armed with deck guns and were shooting back. Several patrol aircraft had been shot down. All available crew from the three Torbay squadrons were called together for a talk by the Major, who spent most of his time raving about the Hurricanes armed with depth charges that he had seen on the flight line. “In all my travels to squadrons around the worId,” he said, “I have never seen such a deadly combination. The Number One aircraft could clear the deck of all living things with one burst from his twelve machine guns, and Number Two could drop his depth charges at leisure. It’s marvelous!” After his talks, the Major visited our Squadron and talked with the pilots. He left an Air Ministry address with Squadron Leader Cannon, the CO, and made him promise to forward to him the results of any encounters a Hurricane might have with a German submarine. “No matter where I am in the world, I’ll get the message.” There was no message to pass on to the Major for two reasons. Firstly, we never did get to attack a German sub, and secondly, the same day as his visit, a Canso carrying the Major to Botwood, Newfoundland, crashed while landing on glassy water, killing everyone on board, including the Major.”

“Butch” Washburn did not return home after the war just like William Robert Gibbs.

Both were killed flying Typhoons.

This is taken from the Canadian Virtual War Memorial

In memory of
Flying Officer
 DEAN JEROME  WASHBURN 
who died on December 24, 1944 

Military Service:

Service Number: J/29339

Age: 23

Force: Air Force

Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force

Division: 438 Sqdn.

Additional Information:

Son of Lenox Francis and Teresa Louise Washburn, of Fernie, British Columbia, Canada.

Autographs

When Walter Neil Dove left Torbay, he had his comrades-in-arms sign his logbook.

Collection Walter Neil Dove

Precious information.

D. B. Riddell, Manitoulin Island, J 38938

Ross Warnes, Toronto, Ontario

Bob McCracken, Lakefield, Ontario, J 28117, POW

WR Gibbs, Peterborough, Ontario +

Don Cleghorn, J 23864, Fredericton, New-Brunswick, POW

Robert Scott C23854, Oakland, California

Squadron Leader A.E.L Cannon, Quebec

Bob Gregory, Ottawa, Ontario

J.L Liggett, Toronto

Mahler, J 28175 (CM) Galt, Ontario

Don Elsley, Essex, Ontario

Don McMillan J 27214, Toronto, Ontario

Ralph Warring, Cornwall, Ontario

Bill Gould F/O J 11554, Fredericton, New-Brunswick

Mickey Harrison, Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan,  J 28164

Harry D Barnes, C-10388, Los Angeles, California

Dave “Jug” Dack, Calgary, Alberta

George Manninen, Toronto, Ontario

M M Wood, c/o Royal Bank, Toronto

Ron Beasley, Ottawa, Ontario +

F O Cloutier, Ottawa +

Bruce? A.  ?, J 18538, RCAF, 383 Argyle St. Renfrew, Ontario

rcaf

Gibby and Harry, comrades-in-arms

This picture of Gibby I posted last time was in Harry Hardy’s logbook.


Collection Harry Hardy DFC via Richard Tunstall

His grandson Richard Tunstall is paying homage to his grandfather and his comrades-in-arms on a Website.

One of my virtual friends living in Belgium had sent me this comment…

Hi Pierre,
you will find a picture of William Gibbs at the following URL
http://www.twitpic.com/photos/rhtunstall

I never expected this! Well maybe I did.

I am always surprised by what is evolving from my blogs. Just like yesterday when Captain Foster’s son wrote a comment on my blog about RCAF No. 403 Squadron.

What an amazing blog and what a wonderful tribute to those who served in 403 squadron. I am Cap’s youngest son and can’t thank you and Greg enough for putting this together. I can answer your question as to whether or not Cap was Eugene Gagnon’s flight instructor unfortunately he was not, I just searched through my fathers log books from his time at 6 SFTS in Dunnville and Eugene’s name was not there. Too bad because that would have been so very cool. I look forward to learning more about the history of the Wolf Squadron and once again thank you so much for your efforts.

Getting back to Harry Hardy DFC…

Collection Harry Hardy DFC via Richard Tunstall

You have to see what his grandson did.

Click here. 

I would have done the same if he had been my grandfather.

I contacted Richard who, in turn, sent me these links to the videos he had made of his grandfather’s WWII experience as a Typhoon pilot.

No piece of cake!

I was not aware of the losses suffered by those pilots during the invasion of Normandy in June 1944.

Here are the links to the videos to find out more.

Part One

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G23UB-QUdac

Part Two

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHAbHy_EPE0

Part three

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zu6e4soOWHU

At the end, Harry Hardy is quite moved by all he has told his audience.

Richard told me Harry is still with us and he is turning 90 in May 2012.  

We owe him so much, more than just paying him this small homage.

As a footnote to this article…

This is the plane Harry flew. I also had posted it without knowing who the pilot was.

Collection Harry Hardy DFC via Richard Tunstall

Gibby

Click on the image…

Collection Harry Hardy DFC via Richard Tunstall

One of my virtual friends living in Belgium sent me this comment…

Hi Pierre,
you will find a picture of William Gibbs at the following URL
http://www.twitpic.com/photos/rhtunstall

Someone else is paying homage to these fine young men who never returned home.

Finally, Gibby is virtually coming back to Canada.

Click here. 

There was no picture of Gibby on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial site.

Lest we forget.

Gibby was a Typhoon pilot

I hope you took the time to read the article I posted yesterday.

Gibby was one of the pilot who took on a Grumman Wildcat in a friendly dogfight.

This time, they announced. Flight Commanders could fly, so I decided to get in on the fun in Hurricane 5485. That afternoon the two readiness aircraft: equipped with depth charges**, were sitting on the tarmac. “Butch” Washburn and “Gibby” Gibbs were the readiness pilots that day and Butch said to me. “You know Bill, I think we can take on these buggers with those readiness aircraft.” “Why not?” I replied … “Have a go.”

Gibby became a Typhoon pilot after his posting at Torbay, Newfoundland with RCAF No. 128 Squadron. 

John Engelsted wrote me this comment on February 14, 2012 after I posted my first article on Gibby.

He was flying Typhoon Ib RB338 which was shot down by flak east of Goch, 28/2-1945.

I never met John, but he has been reading my blog about RCAF No. 403 Squadron.

John has a keen interest in Spitfires and Hurricanes.

That’s what he wrote me in a personal e-mail.

I want to pay homage to John Engelsted for the work he is doing.

I know we share the same goal. Keeping these fine young airmen’s memories alive.

Caption written by Walter Neil Dove
Me, Jug and Gibby

Gibby would never have a grandson with whom to share his logbook and photo album after the war. He died for all of us on February 28, 1945.

I could have waited on the anniversary of his death to post this article.

Gibby has waited long enough…

As a footnote, my search led me to the WWII forum 12 O’Clock High where I found this message:

Re: Typhoons at the Hochwald Gap


Hello,
I live near the Hochwald Gap, which actually is the lane of the Boxtel Railway track through the Hochwald Forest at Uedemerbruch, 5 mls W of Xanten. A plaque fixed to the railway tunnel at Uedemerbruch reminds of the severe fights which took place there.
I have checked the Fighter Command Losses Vol. IV for Typhoon losses in this area within the period you mentioned above and found the following:

183 Sqn. Typhoon Ib EK 498 “N” W/O Crowther W Xanten
266 Sqn. ” RB 253 P/O Shepherd SW Xanten
440 Sqn. ” RB 338 F/O Gibbs E Goch
609 Sqn. ” EK 380 P/O Goblet nr Xanten
” ” SW 447 S/Ldr Roberts (prob. dam. by Hochwald a/a gun)

To my knowledge the Hochwald Gap fights ended 13. March 1945, when Veen was the last town to be occupied in this area. I could also give you assistance to recreate the required location as authentical as possible.

Regards, Juergen