Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The RAF bomb Gelsenkirchen oil plant 1944

Oil was a major target for RAF Bomber Command in 1944. One oil target bombed in daylight was the refinery at Gelsenkirchen, attacked by 462 Squadron flying out of Norfolk on 12 September. The bombaimer on one of the Halifaxes was Sergeant John Gibson, who was on the 30th and final flight of his first tour of duty. The bombers had been promised partial cloud cover over the target, but they found the sky bereft of any cloud when they arrived. Naked and open to the defences though they were, the squadron went in on their bombing run. A flak shell exploded beneath Gibson’s aircraft shattering the perspex canopy through which he was peering to aim the bombs. Shards of perspex peppered his face, blinding him with blood and debris. Despite this, Gibson calmly kept counting down to the moment of release. Although unable to see what he was doing, Gibson managed to release his bombs on cue and alongside the other aircraft so that they must had landed close to if not on the target. His calm counting when in great pain was so effective that the rest of the crew did not realise anything was wrong until Gibson called them on the intercom to report that he would appreciate a bit of help.


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