Sergeant Gilbert Cameron Gibson was with RAF 95 Squadron flying in Short Sunderland Mk.III DW105. Shortly after take-off at 11.05 hours on 5 January 1944, the aircraft was seen returning to base with smoke emitting from it and losing height. The starboard inner engine had developed a fault and caught fire filling the cabin with smoke and fumes making it impossible for the pilot to see. The aircraft failed to make a landing, exploding, and crashing into the water just south of Cansado Point at 11.15 hours.
RAF 95 Squadron were based at Bathurst (Banjul) in The Gambia, about 700 miles south of Port Étienne (Nouadhibou) in Mauritania. The squadron had set up an operation base at Port Étienne working in co-operation with the French to launch attacks on U-Boats and to escort troopships and convoys in the Atlantic.
Crew of Short Sunderland DW105:
Flying Officer L. K. J. Spinney RAFVR, 2nd Pilot, admitted to hospital, discharged 12 January 1944, survived.
Flying Officer Selwyn Guy Phillips RAFVR (142240), Controller (acting as Wireless Operator (Air Gunner, age unknown, missing believed killed
Flying Officer Kenneth Gilbert Mullett RAFVR (139714), Navigator, age 23, killed
Flying Officer Derek Anthony Roper RAFVR (142478), Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, age 23, killed
Pilot Officer Thomas Willoughby Sadleir, RAFVR (171950), age unknown, missing believed killed
Sergeant Thomas William Ewen RAFVR (10046464), Air Gunner, age unknown, killed
Sergeant Gilbert Cameron Gibson RAFVR (1369021), Air Gunner, age 29, missing believed killed
Sergeant David Mason Campbell RAFVR (1343817), age 22, missing believed killed
Sergeant Charles Ernest Norris RAFVR (1280880), age 31, missing believed killed
Corporal Roy Stuart Crate RAFVR (753247), Mechanic, age 23, killed
Flying Officer Phillips was acting as WOP/AG in place another crew member on sick leave, as also was Corporal Crate who volunteered to fly as mechanic.
Four of the crew of the crashed Sunderland DW105, F/O Roper, P/O Phillips, Sgt Ewen, Cpl Crate, were buried in the Port Étienne Chapel Cemetery (Nouadhibou). The others are commemorated on the Malta Memorial.
Sergeant Gilbert Cameron Gibson was the son of Robert and Cissie Gibson, King Street, Crieff. Gilbert played for Earngrove FC and was employed as a joiner by W B Dodd’s of Crieff.
The prototype Short Sunderland S.25 K4774 flying boat was first flown on 16 October 1937 at Rochester on the River Medway, about 30 miles southeast of London, England. The Germans are reputed to have nicknamed the Sunderland as the ‘Fliegendes Stachelschwein’ (‘Flying Porcupine’) due to its defensive firepower. During the Berlin Airlift (June 1948–August 1949), ten Short Sunderlands and two transport variants (known as Hythes) were used to transport goods from Finkenwerder on the Elbe, near Hamburg to Berlin, landing on the Havel river near RAF Gatow.
Photo of the crew from David Campbell’s niece from the RAF 95 Squadron Coastal Command website: http://www.95squadron.co.uk/t95.html