|Quoting Confuscius (Reply 4):|
I like the 1956 movie starring Michael Redgrave. Although I think African-Americans will be offended by the name of the Wing Commander's dog.
On a recent showing on terrestrial TV
here, the dog's name was cut.
A bit silly, though offensive to us now, in the essentially mono racial Britain of WW2 it would not have been.
Gibson was in reality deeply upset by the dog's death.
He was a complex man Guy Gibson, born in India to British parents, educated in the UK, he joined the RAF before the war and was on bombers from the start.
Flying Hamden's he was was of the few who actually manged to reach his targets in those early night bombing days.
With the night time Blitz on the country after the Battle Of Britain, Gibson was assigned, as an experienced night time pilot, to fly the Blenheim night fighters, the first in the world to be fitted with an airborne radar, he and his crewman shot down three German bombers in this period. Gibson was upset he did not get more.
His personality, background and education made Gibson uncomfortable around all but fellow officers, deeply driven and a disciplinarian, he was not popular with either NCO pilots or ground crew.
A difficult marriage also made him unhappy in his personal life, though that might have had something to do with his, it's been alleged, using his rank to get sexual favours from other's wife's and girlfriends.
Certainly his serial philandering was common knowledge.
His parents had split up when he was 6, his mother an alcoholic by the time he was 12, his public school was strict. The woman he married in 1940 was older and an actress, he met her by, essentially stalking her at her theatre.
A short man, many thought him as essentially lonely and insecure.
Leading 106 Sqn on Lancaster's however, he gained a reputation as a highly effective commander, by now he had won the Distinguished Flying Cross and Distinguished Flying Medal. He was a hard taskmaster expecting his men to show the same absolute commitment, incredible bravery that he did. All of the time.
Hand picked to lead 617 Sqn when it was formed, he had to, for a couple of months, keep secret the target for the raids. All through the dangerous low level night ime training that was very tough on the crews.
On the raid itself, after dropping his bomb, he stayed to divert anti aircraft fire from other attacking aircraft, on all the target dams, extremely dangerous to say the least.
Small wonder he was after the raid he was awarded that highest honour, the Victoria Cross.
Gibson didn't really care, the comedown after the raid, the losses amongst his men, left him depressed.
Then came the PR
stuff, the raid had been a morale booster and Gibson spearheaded all that.
He wanted to just get back flying and fighting.
This included a trip to the US which even his friends said went to his head, with hints of heavy womanising.
Bomber Command though, with it's danger and terrible casualty rate, did have a culture of flying hard, fighting hard and playing very hard. Every time, in all senses, in the air or in recreation on the ground, might well be your last.
Everyone had lost many friends.
Gibson however did write, in this period, his classic account 'Enemy Coast Ahead'.
But he was deeply frustrated at his now genuine fame and national hero status keeping him on the ground.
He always wanted 'one last'. One last mission, one last bombing run, so he pulled strings to get one last attack on the enemy. He had been unhappy, felt marginalised, his negative traits of intolerance and pomposity were as bad as ever. So somehow, he got himself back operational flying. On a low level sortie in a Mosquito in September 1944 he crashed and he and his crewman were killed. He was 26.
Richard Todd's sympathetic portrayal of Gibson in the 1955 film, though a fine performance, did not touch on the more negative aspects of Gibson. It was not that sort of film and that was not the era, when WW2 was fresh in the memory, for anything but a heroic role.
Parts of that downed Mosquito, along with many other artifacts of both Gibson and 617 sqn, are preserved at RAF Scampton to this day. Including his dog's grave.
[Edited 2013-04-27 03:14:38]