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
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 …
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
WILLIAM ROBERT GIBBS
who died on February 28, 1945
- 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.
Most people don’t know how dangerous flying Typhoons were. Click here for just a glimpse.