Dambuster of the Day No. 28: Wilfred Ibbotson

Wilfred Ibbotson. [Pic: Peter Humphries]

Sgt W Ibbotson
Rear gunner
Lancaster serial number: ED887/G
Call sign: AJ-A
First wave. Fourth aircraft to attack Möhne Dam. Mine dropped accurately, causing small breach. Aircraft shot down on return flight.

Wilfred Ibbotson was born in Netherton, near Wakefield, Yorkshire in 1913. He was married to Doris, had two daughters, and before the war had worked on a farm. When war came he was called up and served as an Army motorcycle despatch rider. In 1941 he volunteered for the RAF, and trained as a gunner.
After crewing up with David Horsfall, Lawrence Nichols and Gordon Yeo at 1660 Conversion Unit at RAF Swinderby, all four flew on an operation to Berlin on 16 January 1943, with Plt Off V Duxbury as their pilot. The full crew at the Conversion Unit comprised these four, plus Charles Roberts as navigator and John Beesley as bomb aimer. They met up with experienced pilot Melvin Young at Swinderby and then transferred to 57 Squadron at Scampton in mid March. Soon after they transferred to 617 Squadron, Beesley was replaced by Vincent MacCausland.
The Dams Raid was only Ibbotson’s second operation. Sadly they were shot down at almost the last point of danger, crossing the Dutch coast at about 0258 on the morning of 17 May 1943.
Wilfred Ibbotson is buried along with his comrades in Bergen General Cemetery.

More about Ibbotson online:
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Wakefield Express article
Sharlston war memorial

KIA 17 May 1943.

Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Sources: Arthur Thorning, The Dambuster who Cracked the Dam, Pen and Sword 2008
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002


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