Owen Gibb was born in Canada in 1925. His parents were farmers. He was raised on a farm in Alberta [Annotator’s Note: Alberta, Canada]. His parents had 13 children and he was number seven. His parents were Mormons. They lived about 10 miles from the United States border. They were hit hard by the Depression [Annotator's Note: Great Depression; a global economic depression that lasted through the 1930s]. They survived because they had a ranch. He went to a one-room school. He was 16 years old when he heard about the attack [Annotator's Note: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941]. They ferried planes through Canada to ship over to Europe. He wanted to volunteer in the RCAF [Annotator’s Note: Royal Canadian Air Force] because he wanted to help and be a pilot. He went into the service in 1943.
Owen Gibb went to boot camp for six weeks in the Canadian Air Force in the snow. Then they went to Saskatchewan [Annotator’s Note: a province in western Canada] for flying training. He flew in a single-engine bomber-type plane. There was a moveable turret. This training went on for two months. Then they spent the winter in Montreal learning aircraft recognition before going to England. They learned British command training in nine feet of snow. They would have 18 people sleeping at a time. There were about five thousand men aboard. Joining the Air Force was essentially volunteering to go overseas. They were put up in a hotel for two weeks when they reached England. Then they were assigned to a squadron. They started training in Wellington Wimpy’s [Annotator’s Note: Vickers Wellington medium bomber, nicknamed the Wimpy] and then moved up to the big planes. They would change their crew at a moment’s notice. The British did their bombing at night. They had British, New Zealanders, and Australians on their crews. Gibb’s training was simple. If anything shot at them, he had to shoot back. Once they flew 27 missions, they could rotate home. They flew 37 missions. They had to wear heated underwear and heated gloves. Their suits were fleece lined.
Owen Gibb had a machine gun that put out four thousand rounds a minute. The gun was on a turret. They flew at night. They would see strange lights and shadows. They flew in overcast conditions. It was difficult to get a verification of a kill during night flights. The spotlights were the scariest part of flying at night. If one spotlight found a plane, they would form a cone on the plane, and then fill the cone with anti-aircraft fire. The only crew member that got hit was their bombardier. When they were not flying, they went to pubs. A lot of missions would start at night and then end in the daylight. Their first mission was for bombs that flew automatically along the French coast. They did two trips to Cologne [Annotator’s Note: Cologne, Germany]. The Oslo Harbor mission [Annotator’s Note: Oslo, Norway] was to draw planes into the harbor. They went inland 100 miles or so and then went back over the city. There were seven of them on the mission and only three made it back. They would drop mines in the water to hit boats. They would change course quite often to throw people off.
Owen Gibb remembers that the Americans bombed during the day and the British bombed during the night. They flew B-17s [Annotator's Note: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber] and B-29s [Annotator's Note: Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bomber]. The briefing officer apologized for them having to go do it. [Annotator’s Note: Gibb is referring to a mission over Dresden, Germany.] Gibb had to guide the other planes to the targets. He had a job to do. The missions would last from six to eleven hours. It could get boring sitting in the turret. Their squadron was invited to join the Pacific War. Gibb met a girl in the British Navy. He married her and then they moved to Canada. The Germans were sending Morse code, and his wife deciphered one of the messages. He did not care if he had to go to the Pacific.
Owen Gibb remembers they always diverted to an American airfield to get hot dogs and ice cream. Gibb met his wife in a town 20 miles east of the airfield. He would see her any time he was not flying. When he got over there, he bought a motorcycle. He paid 12 pounds for it. Since he was married, he did not get sent home right away. He was made a gunnery instructor for a couple of months. At night, they would see a plane burst into flames and go spinning off. They did not know which planes were hit. They never went on the radio. They were a unit on their own in the airplane. They were not a squadron like the Americans. His wife was in the Navy. Gibb got out of the RCAF [Annotator’s Note: Royal Canadian Air Force] immediately when he got home. He was a warrant officer second class. He reenlisted in 1947. He worked with aircraft instruments. He did not hold onto his rank. He was a new recruit. Their college was paid for.
Owen Gibb was in England when he found that out his parents were American citizens living in Canada. They had moved down to Washington. He found out when he came back. There was not much communication when he was overseas. He knew he wanted to get out of the service. He had to buy his way out of the Royal Canadian Air Force. When he came down to the US [Annotator’s Note: United States] he received a draft notice from the Army. He went to the American Air Force and enlisted as a technical sergeant. He spent a year in Japan during the Korean War [Annotator's Note: Korean War, 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953]. Gibb remembers that on one mission, they got dangerously low on gas on the way back. It was a long mission. They landed at an emergency field. They had to be towed off the field. The pilot gave them the option to bail out into the water, but none of them wanted to do that. He did not like to see people oppressed and he thought it was his obligation to help. He got married while overseas. It was a great experience. He learned a lot about the world and people. Gibb eventually became a research scientist in the aerospace industry. People do not realize what World War Two was. It was a turning of civilization.
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