Portal:Royal Air Force/Selected biography/5

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Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar, RAF (12 August 1918 – 19 September 1944), was the first CO of the RAF's 617 Squadron, which he led in the "Dam Busters" raid (Operation Chastise), in 1943, resulting in the destruction of two large dams in the Ruhr area. He was killed later in the war.

In 1943 he was selected to command the new 617 Squadron asked to destroy dams in the Ruhr area. To accomplish this they were provided with the bouncing bomb designed and developed by Barnes Wallis. On the night of 16 May 1943, Gibson led 19 Lancasters carrying one bomb each into the Ruhr Valley. It took five attempts to breach the Moehne Dam before Gibson led the three remaining Lancasters to attack and breach the Eder Dam. Two other dams were attacked but not breached. After the Dams raid, Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross in recognition not just of the raid, but his leadership and valour demonstrated as master bomber on many previous sorties.

Gibson was sent on a publicity tour of America after completing 174 missions over Germany but returned to operational duties in 1944, after pestering Bomber Command, and was killed along with his navigator Sqn Ldr Jim Warwick, on a bombing raid on Rheydt (a borough of Mönchengladbach) operating as a Pathfinder Master Bomber based at RAF Hemswell, when his de Havilland Mosquito crashed near Steenbergen, the Netherlands, on 19 September 1944. He was 26 years old.