Gunner's body never found

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A REAR gunner from Helensburgh, Drew Gibson, died on active service, in February 1941.

His nephew, the late Councillor Ronnie Kinloch, chairman of the Helensburgh and Lomond Area Committee of Argyll and Bute Council, recalled: “Drew's home was in East Clyde Street, near Craighelen Tennis Club, and his eldest daughter, Donella Smith, still lives in the town.

“He was a stockbroker with Andrew Gibson & Co. in Glasgow and wanted to become a pilot in the Royal Air Force. But his sight was not adequate for that position, and he volunteered to become a rear gunner owing to the acute shortage of personnel for that lonely position on board the aircraft.

“He served on Wellington bombers, and, tragically, on returning during very bad weather from a raid over Germany, the pilot, on his approach to Lossiemouth air base, lowered the flaps too soon and the plane came down a few hundred yards from the shore in the North Sea.

“The local harbourmaster saw the aircraft ditching, and put to sea to try to effect a rescue. He found five of the crew frozen in the aircraft’s dinghy, but miraculously two survived — and one of these died very recently having made his home in Australia.

“Sadly Drew’s body was never found, as the tail portion of the plane was washed away.”

He added: “It is interesting that his son, who is my cousin, managed in the last few years to locate the survivor in Australia and corresponded with him.”

When Councillor Kinloch, who died in 2007, was nine or ten, his father took him to the funeral of Sergeant Alexander Glass Dunbar, who died when his bomber crashed in Shropshire. It took place in the old churchyard in Cardross.

  • See also 'Shot Down in 1944' in this Military section of the website.