Dan Steele

Photographic Colourist

Sqn Ldr Robert “Bobby” Henry Maxwell Gibbes

Sqn Ldr Robert “Bobby” Henry Maxwell Gibbes, Commander of No. 3 Squadron RAAF, sits in a Curtis Kittyhawk, Ras Lanuf, Libya, December 1942.

Colour by Dan Steele

Bobby had managed to rescue and takeoff with, whilst losing a wheel, a downed pilot from within enemy territory. Despite sharing a single-seat cockpit with the pilot and the loss of a wheel, they both landed safely back at base. Gibbes was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, although some dispute that he should have received a higher honour for such bravery.

Squadron Leader R H M “Bobby” Gibbes, Commanding Officer of No. 3 Squadron RAAF, sitting in the cockpit of his Curtiss Kittyhawk, shortly after rescuing one of his pilots who had been brought down by anti-aircraft fire while the Squadron was attacking an enemy airfield on 21 December 1942. Gibbes landed his aircraft by the wreckage and took the pilot into his own cockpit. Although a wheel was knocked off on take-off, they got airborne safely and returned to base at Marble Arch, Libya, where he managed a successful landing on one wheel. The award of a DSO followed. © IWM CM 5074

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