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Air Marshal Sir Gerald Gibbs

Sir Gerald Ernest GibbsGerald Ernest               b: 3 Sep 1896                     r: 28 Jun 1954                      d: 10 Oct 1992

KBE - 10 Jun 1954 (CBE - 1 Jan 1945), CIE - 28 May 1946, MC - 26 Mar 1918, Bar - 22 Jun 1918, Bar - 16 Sep 1918, MiD - 11 Jun 1924, MiD - 1 Jan 1942, LoH, C - 21 Sep 1918, C de G (F) - 21 Sep 1918.  

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(Army):- (T) 2 Lt: 18 Nov 1915, (T) Lt: 1 Jan 1917, (T) Capt: 20 Feb 1918.

(RAF):- (T) Capt [Lt]: 1 Apr 1918, Capt: 1 May 1919, Flt Lt: 1 Jan 1923, Sqn Ldr: 5 Mar 1930,  Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1936,  Act A/Cdre: xx xxx xxxx, (T) A/Cdre: 15 Jul 1941, Gp Capt: 14 Apr 1942 [1 Jan 1940], Act AVM: 1 Mar 1944, A/Cdre (WS): 1 Mar 1945, (T) AVM: 1 Jan 1946, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1946, AVM: 1 Jul 1947, Act AM: 10 Dec 1951, AM: Retained.

Sir Gerald Ernest Gibbs

by Walter Stoneman
bromide print, 19 April 1948
NPG x167789

© National Portrait Gallery, London

xx Aug 1914:         Private, 1/5 Battalion, East Surrey Regiment Regiment.

18 Nov 1915:         Officer, 7th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment.

11 Oct 1916:          U/T Pilot/Instructor, Aboukir, Egypt.

xx xxx 1917:           Pilot, No 17 Sqn RFC.  

20 Feb 1918:          Flight Commander, No 17 Sqn RFC.

26 Apr 1918:          Flight Commander, No 150 Sqn

xx Jun 1918:           Sick.

xx xxx 1918:           Refresher flying course, Redcar

14 Nov 1918:         Flight Commander, No 29 Sqn.

 9 Feb 1919:          Officer Commanding (Temporary), No 29 Sqn

1 May 1919:           Employed as Captain (A).

 1 Aug 1919:           Awarded Permanent Commission as a Lieutenant

xx xxx 1919:            Flight Commander, No 70 Sqn.

20 Jan 1920:            QFI, RAF (Cadet) College.

 8 Dec 1921:            Adjutant, No 6 Sqn.  

14 Oct 1923:           Officer, No 1 Armoured Car Company - Palestine.

1 Dec 1923:             Officer, No 2 Armoured Car Company - Palestine.

29 Aug 1924:           Flight Commander, No 14 Sqn.

xx xxx 1926:            Flight Commander, No 25 Sqn.

 9 May 1926:           Attended RAF Staff College.

3 Oct 1927:             PA to the Chief of the Air Staff.

19 Dec 1928:           Flight Commander, RAF College, Cranwell.

23 Jun 1930:            Air Staff - Plans, Directorate of Operations and Intelligence.

27 Oct 1934:           Officer Commanding, No 47 Sqn.

11 Sep 1935:           "Senior RAF Officer Kenya".

25 Sep 1935:           Officer Commanding, RAF Detachment Kenya.

1 Oct 1936:             Staff, Deputy Directorate of Equipment (4).

xx xxx 1940:            Deputy Directorate of Equipment (4). (changed Dec 39-Apr 40)

12 Jun 1940:            SASO, HQ No 11 Group.

22 Jan 1942:           Director of Overseas Operations.

23 Dec 1943:           SASO, HQ Tactical Air Force (Burma)

28 Dec 1943:           SASO, HQ 3rd Tactical Air Force.  

xx Dec 1944:           SASO, HQ RAF in Burma and Bengal

xx xxx 1945:            Chief Air Staff Officer to Supreme Commander, SEAC.

12 Aug 1946:           SASO, HQ Transport Command.

13 May 1948:          RAF Representative on Military Standing Committee (NATO).

10 Dec 1951:           Chief of the Air Staff and C in C, Indian Air Force.

Originally  attempting to enlist in the London Rifle Brigade in August 1914, he was turned down owing to having caught a piece of grit in his eye on the way there.  Lying about his age he joined a line regiment and in October 1914 found himself on his way to India with a (T) stopover in Egypt.  By mid 1915, he was serving on the Northwest Frontier and after a few months was commissioned as a 2 Lt and sent home for training.  Trained with the Wiltshire Regiment, he was posted to the 7th Wiltshires in Macedonia.  However, on the way there he was approached to join the RFC and attracted by the higher pay only remained with his regiment a few months  before going to  Aboukir to begin his flying training.  Soloing after only one hourís instruction, he became an instructor after a further 10 hours solo.

In the spring of 1917, he was eventually posted to an operational squadron, No 17, in Macedonia, equipped with BE2cís.  After a few months he was selected to fly fighters and was sent to the French to learn how to fly the Nieuport and following his course was put in charge of a detached flight of Nieuports at Marian.  Re-equipment with Bristol Monoplanes was no improvement but in early 1918, the arrival of SE5Aís put them on equal, if not better terms than the enemy.  With the formation of the RAF the fighter elements of No 17 and No 47 Squadrons were amalgamated into No 150 Squadron.  However, his time in Macedonia was brought to an end by dysentery and in mid 1918 he was invalided back to Britain.

Recovered he was first asked if he wished to fly one of the new Handley Page V/1500ís to Berlin, but having seen one he chose to return to fighters and was posted to No 29 Squadron in France.  Shortly after arriving in France 29 moved to Brussels and then Cologne as part of the Occupation forces.  Having Led No 29 back to Britain in 1919 successfully he was sent back to lead the return of No 70 Squadron equipped with Sopwith Snipes.  Awarded a permanent commission in the post-war RAF, he was posted to the new RAF College at Cranwell as one of the first instructors.  It was whilst here that he took part in the first Hendon Pageant on 3 July 1920, flying a Sopwith Snipe in a display with Arthur Coningham.

From Cranwell he next posting was to Iraq as Adjutant to No 6 Squadron equipped with Bristol Fighters.  During this period he assisted in the evacuation of the British High Commissioner, his wife and staff from Suliemanieh in Kurdistan.  He was also fortunate in Iraq as his dog developed rabies and scratched him, however, he was able to get treatment quickly thereby preventing the onset of the disease.  The second half of his overseas posting was to Palestine where following an attached to the Armoured Car Company, where he learned to drive he became a flight commander on No 14 Squadron.

Returning to England, a short spell back on fighters was followed by attendance at the RAF Staff College, he being the youngest student on the course.  His staff training was then put use as Personal Assistant to the Chief of the Air Staff, then Sir Hugh Trenchard. After refresher training at CFS, he returned to Cranwell as a QFI and a Flight Commander, one of the cadets at that time being Douglas Bader.  Another staff appointment followed with a move into Air Staff Plans under Charles Portal after which he undertook another overseas posting with his appointment as CO of No 47 Squadron in the Sudan. The following year he was sent further south with instructions to set up an RAF detachment in Kenya, this being at a time of growing tension between the British in Kenya and the Italians in neighbouring Abyssinia.  His return to Britain brought with it another staff appointment, this time on the ĎAdminí side in Maintenance planning.   One of  his first tasks being to draw up a policy for the establishment of what became Maintenance Command.

Remaining at the Air Ministry on the outbreak of war, it was spring 1940 before he was informed of his appointment as Commander of a fighter sector in the west of England.  However, on the day of his move he was told to wait a week and then report to HQ No 11 Group as SASO.  As SASO to AVM Keith Park, he was second in command of the principal forces involved in the Battle of Britain and the stress was so great that over the period of the Battle, he lost two stones in weight.  He remained at 11 Group after the Battle under a new AOC, Leigh-Mallory and after two years was posted to the Air Ministry as Director of Overseas Operations.  In between he spent a couple of months writing a booklet on administrative co-operation between the RAF and the USAAF.  In this role he was able to undertake a tour of RAF units and operational areas overseas which gave him a much better understanding of the needs of the overseas theatres. 

He received another operational posting in late 1943 when he was appointed AOC of the air units allocated to the forthcoming attack on the Andaman Islands.  However, on arrival in India he was informed that the proposed operation had been cancelled and he to become SASO to AM Sir John Baldwin at HQ 3rd Tactical Air Force.  Remaining with 3TAF until early 1945, he was then appointed to command another amphibious operation, this time against the island of Puket off the Malay Peninsula.  Once again the operation was cancelled and he was reassigned as Chief Air Staff Officer to Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Commander, South East Asia.

Back in England he joined Sir Ralph Cochrane at Transport Command, once more as SASO, but in 1948 he was on the move again , this time to the USA as the RAF representative to the United Nations.  His final appointment was that of C-in-C of the Indian Air Force.  As Such he was the last RAF officer to hold the post and when he retired in 1954 he had the privilege of handing over to the first Indian C in C, AM S Mukerjee, who had trained with the RAF at Cranwell back in the 30's.

Citation for the award of the Military Cross

"T./Lt. Gerald Ernest Gibbs, R.F.C.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. On one occasion he pursued an enemy aeroplane to a very low altitude over the enemy lines and succeeded in driving his opponent to the ground. On a later occasion he and another pilot fought a hostile machine to within 200 feet of the ground over hostile territory, where it fell, completely wrecked. He has displayed consistent gallantry and determination in action."

(London Gazette - 24 August 1918)

Citation for the award of the Bar to the Military Cross

"T./Capt. Gerald Ernest Gibbs, M.C., R.F.C.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. On one occasion he bombed an enemy aerodrome from a height of 100 feet and, descending to 20 feet, fired 200 rounds into the hangars. Later, on the same day, he engaged two enemy scouts and one two-seater machine, all three of which he drove down, the latter going down out of control from a height of 2,000 feet. On another occasion he pursued seven hostile scouts singlehanded, one of which he succeeded in shooting down. He is a pilot of exceptional dash and resource.

(M.C. gazetted 26th March, 1918.)"

(London Gazette - 22 June 1918)


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