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Guy Gibson, the essence of good leadership

Dambusters veteran, Johnny Johnson, during which he imparted his thoughts on RAF hero and commander of Squadron 617, Guy Gibson.

When asked, "What do you make of Guy Gibson?" Johnny replies with, "I wish I had a quid for every time I’ve been asked that question! I have to say that what I feel about Gibson has to be retrospective because at the time I was in the squadron he was squadron commander and I was a little sergeant."

Johnny says: "Before he joined 617 he was OC [Officer Commanding] of 106 Squadron – I have to be very careful how I word this – but we were told that he was known as the arch 'born-out-of-wedlock' by the crew there, Johnny explains with a smile. When he came to form the new squadron I'm sure he realised that he'd have to get more out of the crews than he’d had to in the past and I think he calmed down quite a bit.

Johnny suggests that Gibson's shining moment came during the attack on the Möhne dam, the only dam targeted in the raid that had defences.

"As he called each aircraft in, in turn, he flew alongside them to detract some of those defences. This, to me, says: 'You're doing this, I'm doing this, we're doing it together'. That, to me, is the essence of good leadership. That, I would say, is my ultimate opinion of Gibson."

Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery on the raid.

This blog is dedicated to the memory of Pilot Officer Alan Gillespie, a bomb aimer with 617 Squadron on the Dambuster raid, who was killed in action, age 20.

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