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Enemy Coast Ahead - Guy Gibson VC

Helm

MIA
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#21
I tend to find those types glory seekers and should be given a wide birth.

It’s the normal people in extraordinary environments doing extraordinary things that always amaze me.
I would say a bloke with no legs flying in combat fulfills most of your last criteria. I have no doubt Bader was an ********, so was Paddy Mayne.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#22
Richard Morris wrote an excellent biography of Gibson, worth a read if you can find it.
 

petetheplane

LE
Book Reviewer
#23
Bader by all accounts was a complete cock.

The wireless operator who climbed out on the wing to extinguish flames is a good example. He did it because there was no other option.
I have a print of that one on my landing, autographed by Norman Jackson VC (who did the deed), Peter Townsend and Johnnie Johnson.
 
#24
Because they were themselves extraordinary.

The successes of Bomber Command were purchased at terrible cost. Of every 100 airmen who joined Bomber Command, 45 were killed, 6 were seriously wounded, 8 became Prisoners of War, and only 41 escaped unscathed (at least physically). Of the 120,000 who served, 55,573 were killed including over 10,000 Canadians. Of those who were flying at the beginning of the war, only ten percent survived. It is a loss rate comparable only to the worst slaughter of the First World War trenches. Only the Nazi U-Boat force suffered a higher casualty rate.

On a single night, Bomber Command suffered more losses than did Fighter Command during the entire Battle of Britain.
No, they were very ordinary. In the same way that the infantry or convoy escort crews were all ordinary men.

In the chapter notes to John Terraine's book 'The Right of the Line', the story of the RAF in Europe and N Africa, there is an actuarial table of aircrew losses by aircraft function. Bomber Command's aircrew chances were no worse than for Fighter Command. If you wanted an early death then you flew torpedo bombers. For a safer, if no less terrifying life, you flew Catalinas or Sunderlands.

Bomber Command lost more men because their crews were larger.

Myth is a wonderful thing.
 
#25
By some accounts Gibson was acutely class/rank conscious and treated ground crew quite offensively at times. His superb war record more than compensated for that, of course, but Cheshire seems to have been more of an all-rounder, as has been pointed out.

I’m still waiting to see Gibson’s CV, by the way! :wink:
 
#26
Ages since I read it but from what I remember a good read. Presumably it was ghost written as it was published during the war when the Dog's dad was a bit busy. It starts with his journey from the south coast to join his squadron at the start of the war. IIRC he stopped off for a swift one on the way here Pub honours its Dambusters hero; Squadron leader's letter takes pride of place in local. - Free Online Library

I often wonder when I go into old pubs about people's last pint at home or first pint back after war
5!

I wondered how many posts it would take for someone, like a toddler who's just learnt their first swear word, to grab an opportunity to mention his dog.
 
#28
No, they were very ordinary. In the same way that the infantry or convoy escort crews were all ordinary men.

In the chapter notes to John Terraine's book 'The Right of the Line', the story of the RAF in Europe and N Africa, there is an actuarial table of aircrew losses by aircraft function. Bomber Command's aircrew chances were no worse than for Fighter Command. If you wanted an early death then you flew torpedo bombers. For a safer, if no less terrifying life, you flew Catalinas or Sunderlands.

Bomber Command lost more men because their crews were larger.

Myth is a wonderful thing.
Bollocks, on a number of levels, however, as an illustration:

Fighter Command aircraft losses (including multi-crew aircraft) - 4,790

'Fighter Command' Chaz Bowyer, 1980

Bomber Command aircraft losses - 12,330

Bomber Command's Losses
 
#29
Bader, Gibson, Pappy Boyington, and a few more.
Brave men, they'd rather bruise egos than be 'nice'.
Totally unpopular, but wanted to end the war.
What many don't realise about Gibson, was that he was awarded the VC not for the raid, but because he did the 'diversion' on the following runs.
Massive brass ones.
 
#32
Bollocks, on a number of levels, however, as an illustration:

Fighter Command aircraft losses (including multi-crew aircraft) - 4,790

'Fighter Command' Chaz Bowyer, 1980

Bomber Command aircraft losses - 12,330
Suit yourself.

Acquire and read the table first....
 
#33
Title now edited. I have been informed (via PM) that the author of the classic book about 617 Squadron and the dams raid, and subsequent operations, was/is Paul Brickhill. I am not even sure of the title as I was only twelve when I read it - The Dambusters?

Perhaps @Archimedes or @Magic_Mushroom know?

One of the things I hope we can try to avoid is criticising personalities - apart from social norms being very different back then, they lived under the stress of total war, with no guarantee of allied victory.
 
#34
I met Bader and Adolf Galland in 1973 when they both visited RAF Manston to do a piece for, I think was the Sunday Telegraph. Galland greeted everyone warmly while Bader stomped around in a bad mood (probably his default setting). How easily are some boyhood heroes laid bare.
 
#35
Bader did of course have a disability which would have made every aspect of normal life more difficult, so perhaps he can be forgiven for having a short fuse.

Perhaps best not to judge a man until you have walked in his shoes?
 

AfghanAndy

On ROPS
On ROPs
#37
There’s a pub in Cambridge who’s name escapes me. Quite a tall ceiling in the bar and still heavily stained with nicotine and smoke.

Why has the landlord not given it a lick of paint to freshen it up you may ask?

The simple answer is that when you look closely at the ceiling it is covered in graffiti from bomber crew who used to drink there. 70 year old graffiti lovingly left alone to remember the memories of those brave men.

ISTR that there is a picture of then Memphis bell behind the bar and I think that crew signed the ceiling.
Apologies for quoting my own post but it’s this pub.

The Eagle, Cambridge - Wikipedia

They also discovered DNA in the pub. I should clarify that the guys that discovered DNA were drinking in the pub, not that DNA was found in the pub.....finding DNA in any pub should be quite easy
 

diverman

LE
Book Reviewer
#38
I would say a bloke with no legs flying in combat fulfills most of your last criteria. I have no doubt Bader was an ********, so was Paddy Mayne.
Bader was no the only one, just the best known, and was still an absolute cock after the war.

Colin Hodgkinson, crash whilst undergoing authorised blind flying training unlike Bader who was showing off and playingto his ego, when he crashed
Colin Hodgkinson (RAF officer) - Wikipedia
 

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