454 and 459 RAAF Squadrons
Flight Lieutenant Jack Bruce GIBSON
459 RAAF Squadron
Service No. 35659
Date of Birth: 20 Aug 1922
Place of Birth: MEREWETHER, NSW
Date of Enlistment: 27 Mar 1941
Date of Discharge: 20 Dec 1945
Rank: Flight Lieutenant
Date of Death: 20 Oct 2004
Crew Baltimore MkV FW444 'P' - 16.1.45:
Flying Officer J.B. Gibson (PILOT)
Pilot Officer S.J. Gorman (NAV)
WO L.A. Allen (WOP/AG)
WO F. Hurlstone (WOP/AG)
From Jack Simmonds (459) memoirs - "Raid on German Headquarters Crete":
Jack recalled many “hairy” experiences. Among them were his responsibilities taking high quality rear-under-hatch bomb-strike pictures, using the hand held F24 camera – a very heavy instrument indeed; and when buffeted by the slip stream during continual evasive formation manoeuvres it was very, very difficult to aim and hold steady on target.
Jack remembered from his memoirs and vital attack on German HQ's in central Rhodes. German military intelligence reports indicated that is was a German HQ for the whole of the Dodecanese. The Baltimore crews were briefed at Berka base, they staged to Mersa Matruh from where they flew in 2 formations, 11 planes led by Bob Norman and 'Hoot' Gibson.
Bob Norman led the first formation - returning safely - 11.20 am to 15.40 pm (from Mersa Matruh) - there were 5 planes following Norman's crew (all up 24 souls).
Aircraft: Baltimore Mk V - FW524 'Q'
Crew: F/L R.H. Norman (RAAF); F/Off J.K. Aitken, (RAAF); F/Off W.W. East (RAAF) and F/Sgt J.H. Simmonds (RAF)
Jack 'Hoot' Gibson led the second formation - returning safely - 11.20 am to 15.40 pm (from Mersa Matruh) - there were 3 planes following Gibson's crew (all up 16 souls).
Aircraft: Baltimore Mk V - FW444 'P'
Crew: F/Off J.B. Gibson (RAAF); P/Off S.J. Gorman (RAAF); W/Off L.A. Alen, (RAAF) & WO D.N. Hurlstone (RAAF)
It was very successful with bomb hits covering the entire target area and there were several direct hits seen on the main HQ building. There were only 20 rounds of inaccurate opposition flak encountered.
Jack Simmonds photographed the scene from Bob Norman's aircraft and later recalled:
"We couldn't find the target at first because of cloud and were wheeling over the island in impeccable formation for some minutes. bob was the flight commander and although a mild sort of bloke, he insisted on everybody being nicely tucked in... Suddenly through a gap in the clouds, we spotted the barracks down below and whilst we were on the turn our navigator, Ken Aitken, dropped his bombs and the rest of the formation did likewise.
I was leaning out the back through the bottom hatch, kneeling to take a photograph. I got such a shock when the bombs hit the target building, that I almost dropped the heavy camera. Fortunately I had my finger on the (camera) trigger and there was no foul up. It was the first time I had seen the bombs actually hit the target smack on. I saw no one down below and presumably the inhabitants were in their shelter but if they weren't then casualties must have been heavy."
The AOC in Chief, RAF Middle East, Air Marshal Sir Keith Park, was also impressed with the Squadron's handiwork, telegramming a congratulatory message. Copies of this signal were made for each of the participating crews to insert in their log books.