b. 21/06/1906 Chopwell, Durham. d. 18/10/1940 Coventry, Warwickshire.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 17/10/1940 Coventry.
Michael Gibson (1906-1940) was born on 21st June 1906 in Chopwell, County Durham, one of 15 children born to William and Margaret Gibson (nee Collette). Sadly, of the 14 siblings Michael had, seven died as infants, and he was in fact the youngest surviving child. William Gibson was the Deputy Overman at the local pit, and after a basic education, Michael followed his father down the pits. Michael also joined the Territorial Army, and served for 14 years attached to the Durham Light Infantry. Michael married and had two sons.
On the outbreak of World War II, he enlisted with the Corps of Royal Engineers, and became part of 9 Bomb Disposal Company. He was promoted to Sergeant and worked closely with Second Lieutenant Alexander “Sandy” Campbell. On 17th October 1940 Gibson and Campbell were called to deal with an unexploded bomb which had fallen on the Triumph Engineering Company’s works in Coventry. War production in two factories had stopped because of it, and a large number of people living nearby had been evacuated. Campbell found the bomb was fitted with a delayed action fuse which it was impossible to remove, so he decided to transport it to a safe place. This was done by lorry. Campbell lay alongside the bomb so that he could hear if it started ticking and could warn Gibson, the driver, to stop and run for cover. Next the two men carried it a mile from Priory Street to Whitley Common, where they successfully made the bomb safe. They were both killed the following day while working on another unexploded bomb.
Following a funeral service at Coventry Cathedral on 25th October 1940, the squad were buried in a collective grave in Coventry’s London Road Cemetery. The squad comprised Second Lieutenant Alexander Fraser Campbell and Sappers William Gibson, Richard Gilchrest, Jack Plumb, Ronald William Skelton, Ernest Arthur Stote and Michael Gibson. On 22nd January 1941 the London Gazette announced the posthumous awards of the George Cross to both Michael Gibson and Alexander Campbell. Gibson’s GC was sold at auction by Glendinning’s on 1st March 1989 and went into private ownership. They came up for auction again on 18th December 2012, and were purchased by Michael Ashcroft for £93,000 and are now displayed in the Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: LONDON ROAD CEMETERY, COVENTRY.
SQUARE 348, COLLECTIVE GRAVE 46.