The Dam Busters
Posted by N44 on June 28, 2021, 17:48:24
Nineteen Lancaster bombers of the famous 617 Squadron were led by 24 year old Wing Commander Gibson. Without a doubt,if it wasn't for Guy Gibson’s coolness and gallantry in staying over the target areas, and controlling each bomber’s attack, the operation would not have been as successful as it was. Of the 19 bombers engaged in the sortie, only eleven returned. For this latest operation, Guy Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross. He was now one of the most decorated heroes of the war.There is little to tell of his last flight. He took off in a Mosquito to act as he master bomber and guide on a raid on a factory target in Germany. When the raid was over, the other pilots heard Gibson’s voice on the R/T saying “O.K. chaps, that’s fine, now beat it home!” But Gibson never reached England. His plane crashed in a sugar-beet field near the town of Steenbergen, in Holland, close to the Belgian border. His broken body, and that of his navigator, J.B.Warwick, were recovered and interred in Steenbergen cemetery. A Roman Catholic priest and a Protestant minister conducted the graveside burial service; a wooden cross was placed on each grave. Later, the Imperial War Graves Commission put up two headstones. |
An eye-witness called Joseph Israelsster saw the bomber crash that night . At the time, he was sixteen years of age, and on seeing the burst of flame, and hearing the explosion from the crash, he cycled to the scene of the disaster. Among the charred remains of the aircraft, they recovered two bodies. The only identification of the pilot was a sock on one of his feet reach marked “Guy Gibson.”
Because Holland was under German occupation, the rule was that enemy bodies were to be buried in the nearest cemetery, and it was not until the war was over that the local inhabitants learned the real identities of the two airmen they had buried.
It was asked why they were not interred in the British War Graves cemetery in Holland, but Guy’s father, and the local people expressed a wish that the two bodies should not be disturbed and left to lie near where they had died.Guy was just 26 years of age. How sad
From the wreckage young Mr. Israelsster gathered some pieces of twisted metal, from which he made a signet ring as a precious memento of that sad day.
On September 19th 1974, just 30 years after Guy Gibson’s death, a memorial service was held at Steenbergen, and a plaque was unveiled by Air Marshal Sir Harold Martin, better known as “Micky Martin,” who piloted one of the aircraft in the front section to attack the Dams, together with Guy Gibson. At the conclusion of the service, the only remaining airworthy Lancaster of the R.A.F, flew past in salute.
On that same date, a Battle of Britain Commemorative Service was held in Porthleven, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the War Memorial on the hillside overlooking the harbour, and Guy’s boyhood home.
A street named ‘Gibson Way’ in the village, is planted with trees in memory of young Guy, who died in the prime of life.”