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Today in History

Name: Frank George Gibbons
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) Frank Gibbons
Country: England
Rank: Lieutenant
Service: Royal Flying Corps
Royal Air Force
Units: 22, 111
Victories: 14
Born: 13 June 1899
Place of Birth: Peterborough, Northamptonshire, England
Died: 21 May 1932 Killed In Flying Accident
Place of Death: Stanton, Norfolk, England
The son of Peter and Fanny Gibbons, Frank George Gibbons joined the Royal Flying Corps as an air mechanic (cadet) in June 1917 and was promoted to temporary 2nd Lieutenant (on probation) on 3 November of that year. 2nd Lieutenant Gibbons received Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate 7860 on 28 February 1918. In March, he was promoted to Lieutenant and soon joined 22 Squadron as a Bristol Fighter pilot. With this unit in France, he and his observers scored fourteen victories. Gibbons was transferred to the unemployed list on 2 March 1920 but his service was extended and he remained in the Royal Air Force. In an air race in 1932, Flight Lieutenant Gibbons was killed in a crash whilst flying a Spartan three-seater.
Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators' Certificates, 1910-1950
Obituary 1
Good Sportsman and Skilled Pilot
      Flight Lieutenant Frank George Gibbons, who was killed when his aircraft collided with a tree during Saturday's air race, was 33 years old and unmarried. He had seen service in many different parts of the world and was a fine sportsman as well as a highly skilled and experienced pilot and engineer.
      He was an expert fencer, and fenced for the R.A.F. against the Navy. He also played cricket and hockey. His service career extended back to June, 1917, when he attested as an air mechanic (cadet) in the Royal Flying Corps. He was granted a commission in November of the same year, and was placed on the General List as a second-lieutenant on November 3, 1917.
     He was promoted to lieutenant in April, 1918, and to acting-captain on November 5, 1928. He transferred to the Unemployed List in 1920, but immediately afterwards his service was extended.
      He was gazetted as a flying officer on June 9, 1920, and a flight lieutenant on January 1, 1926. He won the Distinguished Flying Cross for his services in the field.
      He had done many specialist courses in the Royal Air Force, among them a flying-boat course, an engineering course and an instructor's course at the Central Flying School.
      In France he was a member of No. 22 Squadron in 1918-19, and on his return to England he was posted to No. 10 Training School and later to the Middle East, the date of his posting being July, 1919. In Palestine he was a member of No 111 Squadron and it was in 1920 that he went to take the Instructor's Course at the Central Flying School. Two years after he was in Constantinople, and in 1923 he was posted to No. 25 Squadron.
      Later in the same year he was sent to Aden and from there in 1925, he went to No. 208 Squadron at Heliopolis, Cairo. He returned home to join No. 19 Fighter Squadron at Duxford on the 16th March, 1927. On the 5th January, 1931, he went to Calshot Base in the Coastal Area, and from there he was posted to No. 204 Flying Boat Squadron, of which he was a member at the time of his death.
      He was universally recognised as a particularly fine and courageous pilot and a brilliant navigator. It is believed that he was to have left England for India in the near future.
Obituary 2

      "GIBBONS. -- On May 21, at Stanton, Norfolk, as the result of a flying accident, Flt. Lt. Frank George Gibbons. D.F.C., R.A.F. Flt. Lt. Gibbons was born in 1899 and enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps in 1917. He was appointed to a commission later in the year and was posted to No. 22 Squadron in France. In June 1919 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for distinguished service in the field.
      In July 1919 he was posted to the Middle East and served for a short time with a Squadron in Palestine. He returned to England in 1920 and attended a Flying Instructor's Course at the Central Flying School and in October 1922 he was appointed to the Headquarters Staff of the Constantinople Wing.
      In August 1923 he was posted to the Aden Flight on the formation of that Unit. In April 1925 he was posted to No. 208 (Army Co-operation) Squadron, Ismailia, where he remained until he was transferred to Heliopolis Details in January 1926. He was promoted to Flight Lieutenant in January 1926 and in July 1927 he joined the Home Aircraft Depot, Henlow, for the long Engineering Course.
      In August 1929 he was appointed to the Staff of No. 5 Flying Training School, Sealand, for Engineering Duties. During the first half of 1931 he went through the Navigation Course at Calshot and in July 1931 he was posted to No. 204 (Flying-boat) Squadron at Mount Batten.
      Flt. Lt. Gibbons took part in the King's Cup Air Race in 1930 and 1931. In the first year he retired, but last year he was second. He also put up a very fine show in the Circuit of Europe in the Summer of 1930, when he was navigator to Mr. H.T. Andrews in the Spartan Arrow.
      [All who knew Flt. Lt. Gibbons held his piloting ability in the utmost respect and he was the sort of sportsman who would not be deterred by any conditions. As a man he had an extraordinary charm of manner, and with his quiet, humorous fearlessness he was held in real affection by a large circle of acquaintance. -- F. D. B.]"

From "The Aeroplane," 25 May 1932

Obituary 3

      "THE tragic loss of Flt. Lt. Frank George Gibbons during the race organised by the Morning Post on Saturday, May 21, was one which came as a shock to his many friends. It would appear fairly certain that his death was due to his colliding with a tree while looking at his maps inside the cockpit, and was in no way caused by any defect in the "Spartan" three-seater he was flying at the time. He was a particularly likeable character, besides being an outstanding expert as a pilot. He was one of those people about whom one never heard any gossip, and his likeable character is shown by the fact that although he was the best of companions at the kind of party which usually finishes an air meeting, he was equally at home spending an afternoon playing with young children. He first joined the R.F.C. in June, 1917, as an air mechanic (cadet), and gained his commission in November of the same year. He was gazetted as a Flt. Lt. on June 1, 1926, and won the D.F.C. for services in the field. Not only was he a very fine pilot of land aircraft, but also of flying boats. On January 5, 1931, he went to Calshot, and from there he was posted to No. 204 Flying Boat Squadron at Mountbatten, Plymouth, of which he was a member at the time of his death. He was a brilliant navigator, and this form of race was one in which he was particularly interested. It is perhaps, therefore, some consolation to feel that if he himself could have had the choice, he would have undoubtedly have chosen to die when flying 'flat-out' during such a race, in the manner he did. The funeral took place at Ipswich on Wednesday, May 25. He was 33 yrs of age and unmarried."

From "FLIGHT," 27 May 1932

Date Time Unit Aircraft Opponent Location
1 31 May 1918 1915 22 Bristol F.2b (A7243) 1 Pfalz D.III (OOC) SE of Armentières
2 01 Jun 1918 1915 22 Bristol F.2b (C961) 2 Pfalz D.III (DES) Erquinghem
3 01 Jun 1918 1915 22 Bristol F.2b (C961) 2 Pfalz D.III (DES) Erquinghem
4 02 Jun 1918 1050 22 Bristol F.2b (C901) 1 Pfalz D.III (OOC) NE of Lens
5 05 Jun 1918 1915 22 Bristol F.2b (C929) 3 Pfalz D.III (OOC) NE of La Bassée
6 28 Jun 1918 1015 22 Bristol F.2b (C989) 4 Fokker DR.I (DES) N of Estaires
7 10 Jul 1918 0945 22 Bristol F.2b (C989) 4 Fokker DR.I (OOC) Lille
8 27 Aug 1918 1345 22 Bristol F.2b (E2454) 5 Fokker D.VII (OOC) Douai
9 02 Sep 1918 1115 22 Bristol F.2b (D7894) 6 Fokker D.VII (DES) Haynecourt
10 02 Sep 1918 1115 22 Bristol F.2b (D7894) 6 Fokker D.VII (DES) Haynecourt
11 05 Sep 1918 1700 22 Bristol F.2b (E2454) 6 Fokker D.VII (OOC) Douai
12 16 Sep 1918 1530 22 Bristol F.2b (E2454) 6 Fokker D.VII (OOC) Quesnoy Wood
13 25 Sep 1918 1810 22 Bristol F.2b (E2477) 7 Fokker D.VII (DES) Boulon Wood-Cambrai
14 27 Sep 1918 0730 22 Bristol F.2b (F6040) 6 Fokker D.VII (OOC) Sensee Canal-Cambrai

1 Observer Sgt John Jones
2 Observer 2Lt John Umney
3 Observer Sgt Ronald Fletcher
4 Observer Lt Valentine Collins
5 Observer Lt James McDonald
6 Observer Sgt Christopher Shannon
7 Observer 2Lt J A Oliver
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