GIBBERD James Ernest 415639

LEST WE FORGET

Flying Officer James Ernest GIBBERD DFC

Service No: 415639
Born: Leederville WA, 7 September 1917
Enlisted in the RAAF: 7 December 1941
Unit: No. 1660 Conversion Unit (RAF), RAF Station Swinderby, Lincolnshire
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), 22 September 1944 (Citation Title: No. 61 Squadron RAF)
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 1660 Conversion Unit Lancaster aircraft ME490), Lincolnshire, 25 February 1945, Aged 27 Years
Buried: Cambridge City Cemetery, Cambridgeshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Ernest and Isobella Gibberd, of Perth, Western Australia, husband of Rose Adelaide Gibberd, of Cottesloe, Western Australia
Roll of Honour: Perth WA
Remembered: Panel 122, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

DFC Citation: The Citation for the DFC awarded to Flying Officer Gibberd then of No. 61 Squadron (RAF) is as follows: “This officer ahs completed many sorties and has invariably displayed courage and devotion to duty. One night in July 1944, he was captain of an aircraft detailed to attack Givors. Shortly before reaching the target the aircraft was attacked by a fighter, sustaining damage. An engine became unserviceable whilst a second engine and wing surface were hit. Undeterred, Flying Officer Gibberd went on to attack the target with his usual determination. The return flight was made through very bad storms but a successful landing was made at base. (London Gazette 22/9/1944, page 4392)

At 1505 hours on 25 February 1945, Lancaster ME490 took off from RAF Swinderby detailed to teach 3 engine overshoot procedures. The aircraft entered the funnels and carried out an overshoot at 200 to 300 feet, but the aircraft swung to the left, off course, gradually turning to the left and finally dropping the left wing and crashing. Six of the crew were killed and one was injured. The airspeed was allowed to drop below the 3 engine safety speed, which caused the left wing to fall, and consequently the aircraft became out of control. An Inquiry into the accident stated that: “the responsibility for the crash rests with one or both Pilots.”

The crew members of ME490 were:

Warrant Officer Harold Whitney Bennett (1025303) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air)
Flight Sergeant Derrick William Dunthorne 91602131) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Flying Officer James Ernest Gibberd DFC (415639) (Instructor and First Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Harold Hayes (572871) (RAF) (Flight Engineer)
Warrant Officer Harold Bowen Jones (1324221) (RAFVR) (Air Bomber)
Flight Sergeant T V W Rigby (617457) (RAF) (Rear Gunner) Injured
Squadron Leader John Bertram Sayers AFC MID (131547) (RAFVR) (Pilot-Under-Instruction)

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/15/428