Guy Gibson new exhibition

Sep 14, 2014   //   by Nicholas Milton   //   Blog  //  No Comments

ScanOn the 70th anniversary of his death on 19 September, Guy Gibson’s private letters have been put on public display for the first time at the Herbert Museum in Coventry. The collection of his personal items, donated by his nephew Mike Gibson, includes the private letters sent to Mike’s mother and father, a signed drawing he had done specially for Mike while at Scampton where he trained 617 squadron for the Dambusters raid, his cuff links, some photographs and a recording by the BBC’s War Correspondent, Major Richard Dimbleby, who Guy took on a sortie to Berlin.

I met Mike at an event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters raid in 2013 and we became friends. I was fascinated when he showed me the letters from Guy and his other possessions as they are like gold dust to a historian. As a result we agreed it would be good to put them on display as they have never been seen in public before. The letters date from 1943 to 1944 and reveal a lot about Guy the private man. They include a wonderful drawing of Guy Gibson by the war artist Sir William Rothenstein. Guy signed the picture as a gift for Mike’s christening. The cufflinks on display were a gift from Guy’s parents when he joined the RAF in 1936.

Mike Gibson told me “While an awful lot has been written about Guy Gibson and the Dambusters raid over the years, much less about is known about Guy Gibson the private man. Many of the private places that were important to Guy were in Warwickshire including the old Hippodrome theatre in Coventry where he met his wife Eve. The theatre is no longer there but close by is the Herbert museum so it seemed an appropriate place to put on display his personal items to commemorate the 70th anniversary of his death on 19 September. Both of Guys favourite pubs, the Duncow in Dunchurch and the 3 Horseshoes in Rugby, are also nearby and are referred to in his private letters”.

Guy Gibson was an RAF officer during the Second World War, most famous for his role as Commanding Officer during the Dambusters raid. He wanted to fly from an early age and joined the RAF in November 1936. After his initial flying training he was posted to 83 (Bomber) Squadron where he stayed until September 1940.

Guy moved to 29 Squadron in November 1940 and shortly afterwards married Evelyn Moore. They met when she was performing at the New Hippodrome Theatre in Coventry.

In May 1943 Guy led 617 Squadron in Operation Chastise, more commonly known as the Dambusters raid. Its aim was to disrupt industry in the Ruhr region of Germany. Guy’s part in the operation earned him the Victoria Cross and international fame. He undertook a speaking tour of North America and appeared on the popular BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs. He wrote a book, Enemy Coast Ahead.

However, Guy was keen to return to action. He flew in an attack operation on 19 September 1944, but while returning his plane crashed near Steenbergen in the Netherlands, killing him and his navigator Squadron Leader Warwick. Guy was the most highly decorated RAF officer of the war.



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Nicholas Milton

I am a marketing and communication expert with over 20 years experience. Over this time I have campaigned on issues I feel passionately about - conservation, climate change, racial equality, land reform, rural poverty and most recently international development. I am also a successful freelance journalist and have been published in the Guardian, Times, Daily Telegraph and the Independent.

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