In March 1943, Guy Gibson was seen as one of the most experienced bombing pilots of the RAF. He was the man to lead "Operation Chastise": destroying 6 dams in Germany.
Wing Commanders Guy Gibson DSO DFC Was commandeer of a special squadron, No 617, operating modificeren Lancasters.
They took off in the night of 16 May 1943. Gibson was leading the first formation with the target of destroying the Möhne dam. With the special bouncing bomb, the "Dambusters" succeeded to break the dam. Another formation successfully bombed the Eder dam. The Sorpedam dam was only slightly damaged. Only 8 of the 19 Lancasters returned.
Five weeks later Guy Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross by King George VI.
On 19 September 1944, while Operation Market Garden was talking place, Gibson flew a bomb raid in Mosquito KB267. His navigator that night was Squadron Leader James B. Warwick DFC.
During the flight home something went wrong over the southern part of the Netherlands. The plane Gibson was flying, caught fire and crashed several seconds later in Steenbergen.
The site where the plane crashed is now an industrial site. The streets here have names like Gibsonstreet, Warwickstreet and Dambusterstreet.
In the mid '80's this area had to be cleared for construction, so a department of the Dutch Airforce searched the area for explosives and the Remains of Mosquito KB267. They eventually found a wheel leg of the Mosquito and it is now on display at Gilze-Rijen Airbase.
The monument in the municipal park of Steenbergen is a propeller of a Lancaster placed on a granite pillar. This pillar is 2 meters high, 72 cm wide and 45 cm deep.
Text on the monument:
IN REMEMBRANCE OF W/Cdr GUY GIBSON VC.BSO.DFC SQN/Cdr JIM WARWICK DFC ROYAL AIR FORCE
BOTH LOST THEIR LIVES IN STEENBERGEN 19-9-1944
THEY FOUGHT AND FELL ON THE WINGS OF FREEDOM, THEY LIVE ON IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE OF TODAY AND TOMMOROW
The monument was unveiled in 1990.
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- Text: Ferry Stam
- Photos: Anneke Moerenhout (1,2,3,5) & Arjan Vrieze (4)