GIBBONS Arthur Leonard 415245

LEST WE FORGET

Pilot Officer Arthur Leonard GIBBONS

Service No: 415245
Born: Victoria Park WA, 3 November 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 17 August 1941
Unit: No. 467 Squadron, RAF Bottesford, Wiltshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft W4946), Netherlands, 28 July 1943, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Terschelling (West Terschelling) General Cemetery, Friesland, Netherlands
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Leonard and Olive May Gibbons, of Victoria Park, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Victoria Park WA
Remembered: Panel 110, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

Date: 27-28 July 1943
Target: Hamburg
Total Force: Dispatched – 787, Attacking – 739
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 24, Attacking – 23; No. 466 – 15, 15; No. 467 – 17, 17
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 2,313
Total Aircraft Lost: 17
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 467 – 2

On the night of 27th-28th July Bomber Command operated in maximum force and in forty-five minutes dropped almost exactly the same tonnage of bombs as in the first attack. Forty-one Lancasters and fifteen Wellingtons were sent out by the RAAF squadrons and aided by good weather, all except one attacked. More enemy searchlights were observed but again the apparent result of the Window counter-measure was that they seemed unable to seek or hold aircraft accurately. Some aircraft were coned, but to the surprise of the crews they were not then subject to the usual fierce gun fire. Wing Commander R E Bailey DSO DFC (42093) (RAF) of No. 466 Squadron and other pilots were more impressed with the “incredible column of smoke, resembling a cumulo-nimbus cloud” which rose to 22,000 feet and obscured the target-indicator bombs. Against weak defences and an already blazing target, crews found little difficulty in attacking, although some like Pilot Officer Symonds DFC (409611) preferred to dive 6,000 feet in order to see clearly on the bombing run. Black, sooty specks covered the windscreens and turrets of other aircraft, and fires in Hamburg could be seen for 200 miles on the return journey. Again no night photography was possible but a German report states:

The continuation of the first attack by daily and nightly nuisance raids made the enemy’s intention to destroy Hamburg systematically quite plain. Therefore the fact of a fifth raid . . . was not surprising. Its magnitude and consequences however were far beyond all expectations . . . . The main weight of the attack this time was at the left shore of the Alster. Within half an hour the whole left side was in a terrible situation by a bombardment of unimaginable density and almost complete annihilation of those town districts was achieved . . . . Tens of thousands of small fires united within a short period of time to conflagrations which developed to fire – storms of typhoon-like intensity in the course of which trees of three-foot diameter were pulled out of the ground.

Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 586-7

Lancaster W4946 took off from RAF Bottesford at 2300 hours on the night of 27/28th July 1943 to bomb Hamburg, Germany. Bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,850 kg), 2 x 500 lb (225 kg) bombs, 48 x 30 lb (14 kg) and 900 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Eighteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and two of these including W 4946 failed to return. Following post war enquiries it was believed that the aircraft was shot down by a night fighter and crashed in the sea off Terschelling,

The crew members of W4946 were:

Pilot Officer James Thomas Buchanan (405998) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant David Erskine Ellis Dean (408307) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Pilot Officer Arthur Leonard Gibbons (415245) (Navigator)
Pilot Officer Kevin Herbert Hoffman (414798) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Ross Primrose Holmes (414351) (Bomb Aimer)
Sergeant Geoffrey Charles Peggs (1615594) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Robert Garth Reu (417416) (Rear Gunner)

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster W5003 (Pilot Officer James Llewellyn Carrington (413167) (Pilot)) 28 July 1943.

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, 166/15/78