80 Squadron Tempest V NV966 Sq/Ldr. John Albert Axel Gibson DSO. DFC
Date: 24th March 1945 (Saturday)
Unit: No. 80 Squadron (motto: 'Strike True')
Type: Tempest V
Base: B.80 Volkel
Pilot: Sq/Ldr. John Albert Axel Gibson DSO. DFC. 40969 RAF Age 29. Injured
REASON FOR LOSS:
24th March 1945 was the date that the allies began crossing the Rhine, the last obstacle into Germany itself.
NV966 was hit by the anti-aircraft fire with the pilot force landing south of Helmond. He survived with a broken shoulder.
The highly decorated New Zealand fighter pilot who had been credited with 141/2 kills an 11 enemy aircraft damaged, escaped death on two occasions during the Battle of Britain:
15th August 1940 - Whilst with 501 squadron. Flying Hurricane I P3582 baled out after combat with Ju87 over Hastings at 11:30 hrs.
However, the story goes that he encountered a problem in that he had recently purchased a new pair of shoes and he knew that he would lose them for sure when he bailed out. He then removed them tying the laces together he attached an officers card with his name on it and threw them out of the cockpit. They were found and returned to his unit even before he arrived back! The photo below shows Kenneth Norman Thomas Lee taking the mickey about the shoes.
Standing: F/O Stefan Witorzenc (survived the war, died on 13th December 1994, age 86), F/Lt. George Edward Bowes Stoney (killed on the 18th August 1940, age 27), Sgt. Antoni Glowacki ((survived the war, died on the 27th April 1980, age 81)
On chairs: Sgt. Paul Caswell Powe Farnes (survived the war, died on the 28th January 2020, age 81)., P/O Kenneth Norman Thomas Lee (PoW, survived the war, died on 15th January 2008, age 73), P/O John Albert Axel Gibson (survived the war, died on the 01st July 2000 age 83)
Front: P/O Robert Chippindall Dafforn (killed on the 09th December 1943, age 24), P/O Hugh Charles Adams (killed on the 06th September 1940, age 22)
29th `August 1940 - Whilst with 501 squadron. Flying Hurricane I P3102 baled out after combat with Me109 over Hawkinge - rescued by HSL at 19:30 hrs with slight injuries.
DFC Citation 15th August 1940:
'In August, whilst on an offensive patrol over Dover, this officer engaged and destroyed a Junkers 87 and was afterwards shot down himself. Although his aircraft was in flames he steered it away from the town of Folkestone and did not abandon the aircraft until it had descended to 1,000ft. Pilot Officer Gibson has destroyed eight enemy aircraft, and has displayed great courage and presence of mind.'
'Since being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his achievements as a fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain, this officer has further distinguished himself both in England and more recently in the Pacific, where he has made three tours in the Solomons area. He has destroyed a total of 14 1/2 enemy aircraft, adding to his record one Japanese fighter which was fiercely attacking an allied formation over Rabaul Harbour. Acting Squadron Leader Gibson, who is a brilliant pilot and born leader, has to his credit the exception total of 669 hours of operational flying covering 382 missions. Of his two latest tours in the Pacific this year, he had commanded a squadron and his enthusiasm and fearless leadership have been outstanding. His personal courage, both in aerial combat and in-ground strafing and fighter bomber missions, and his long experience has been of inestimable value to his squadron, which has earned the high praise of allied commanders'.
None survived the war. Sq/Ldr. John Albert Axel Gibson DSO. DFC. Born on the 24th August 1916 in Brighton, Sussex EnglandServed in the NZ TF Army from October 1934 until May 1935. Enlisted in the RAF on the16th May 1938. Served until 30th November 1945. On loan to the RNZAF from 13th June 1942 - December 1944. Served in RNZAF from 01st December 1945 - 24th December 1946. Then served with RAF from 1948 - 31st December 1954. Also flew in the Biafran War and with the Rhodesian Air Force until 1979. Held following posts since leaving the RNZAF, Chamber of Mines Employee (South Africa). General Manager Bechuanafond Airways, Director JAGAIR (Zimbabwe). Passed away on the 01st July 2000 in Nottingham, England age 83.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, 'By Such Deeds' - Gp/Cpt. C.M. Hanson, other sources as quoted below: