Porthleven Honours Guy Gibson VC
Wednesday 16th May 2012, the Town Council, and the town of Porthleven honoured Wing Commander Guy Penrose Gibson VC, DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar. A Son of Porthleven.
The ceremony started at 11:30 with a contingent of Officers and personnel from RAF St. Mawgan; followed by 20 Air Training Cadets from the Helston Squadron parading in front of the Bickford-Smith Institute. This was followed by a welcoming speech by the Mayor of Porthleven, Councillor Mark Berryman. After the Mayor had finished Group Captain David Robertson spoke a few words of the daring and courage Gibson had shown in the raid on the Ruhr dams. Group Captain Robertson is also the former Commanding Officer of 617 Squadron; also known as the Dambusters.
Before the ceremony, Group Captain Robertson had said he had flown over the dams, and explained that even in modern-day aircraft, the approach to the dams are very difficult. And he flew at 200ft in daylight. Imagine what is was like at 60ft and in the dark! You then understand the skill and courage of all the aircrew who took part in the raid.
It was then over to local historian and relative, Vic Strike who spoke about Guy Gibson’s younger days in Porthleven, and how in later years whilst a serving RAF officer visited Porthleven on leave and then with his wife. In fact he visited Porthleven on his last set of leave before he was Killed in Action over Holland.
At twelve-noon, the plaque was unveiled by Group Captain Robertson and Vic Strike. This was followed by an overhead flypast of two Hawks. This was a fitting end to the ceremony.
I was amazed at the number of people who turned out to either take part in the ceremony, or simply watch. I would say the crowds numbered at least 200. It was great to see many service Veterans attending with decorations and medals proudly displayed on their chests. There was one Veteran who had flown with Gibson on another mission. He was proudly wearing his campaign medals and the DFC. Amazingly, a Niece and Nephew of Gibson made the journey to attend the ceremony.
Sincere thanks should go to the Officers and personnel of RAF St Mawgan, the RAF Association and their Standard bearer, , RNAS Culdrose, Helston Community College for making the ‘plaque curtain’, Helston’s Air Training Corps and the British Legion for helping out and making sure this was a special day to remember. Lastly, a special thank you should go to the people of Porthleven and visitor’s who took the time to attend.
Here is a selection of photographs from the ceremony: