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That Guy Guy

Several years ago I came across a crack in a book about Dam Buster hero Guy Gibson caring more about his dog than the men under his command. It was from one of the men who served under him. But I've never had much luck find out whether the criticism was justified. Gibson's entry in the National Dictionary of Biography notes that he got on better with his flyers than he did with the ground crews. That didn't quite seem to cover the crack about his dog being more important than his men. But recently Gibson turned up twice in a book of air crew reminiscences. One of the men in the book was a flight sergeant who noted that Gibson was distant in his relationships with any air crew who were not officers. Gibson, the sergeant said was "arrogant, a martinet, not very approachable" and ruled his squadron with a rod of iron. Another sergeant recalled Gibson had all his pilots arrested as they landed for what many would regard as exuberant high spirits while moving from one airfield to another. The same sergeant added that Gibson was quick to accuse air crew of cowardice and this was a cause of much resentment. Though he thought accusations that Gibson was nothing but a gong-hunter were unfair. It has to remembered that Gibson was a pre-war regular who had been taught in the RAF to believe in a strict officer/rank and file divide. He even had a problem with officer pilots who he believed were too friendly to their crews. Gibson once ordered his squadron's air crews to spend two days cutting down trees because he didn't want them spending their weather enforced non-flying time boozing. The real Gibson would appear to not quite as played by Richard Todd in the 1955 film The Dam Busters. But, Gibson's book Enemy Coast Ahead remains on my Worth a Look list. 

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