Preparation
  Sergeant Gordon Tisbury  
 

Sgt Gordon "Duke" Tisbury    RAFVR

 
 Sgt Gordon Tisbury was serving as an Air Gunner on board Halifax Mk. II HR816 coded LQ-C during an operation to Wupertal on June 23/24, 1943. The aircraft encountered was attacked by a night-fighter and crashed. Sgt Price and Sgt Kucinsky were killed during the attack but the rest of the crew managed to escape the stricken aircraft.

The other crewmembers were:

Name Service Trade Hometown Age
Sgt P.C. Andrews - POW RAFVR - - -
Sgt Charles Price RCAF - - -
Sgt Glyn Jones - POW RAFVR -

Troon, Scotland

-
F/Sgt W.Kingsley - POW RCAF - - -
Sgt F. Bowker - POW RAFVR - - -
Sgt Joseph Kucinsky RCAF - Wilkes Barre, PA, USA 23
 
 
 Gordon Tisbury was born in Twickenham and was working at Warner Brothers at Teddington, hoping to become a camera-man. He attempted to enlist in the RAF at Chiswick, West London aged 17 on 24th June 1940  He managed to convince the recruiting sergeant that he was 18 and wanted to fly. He was told that they weren't recruiting aircrew at that time but that he could join a new section being formed, RAF Ground Defence (this was to provide defensive cover for airfields against both air and ground attacks) and then try to re-muster into aircrew. Within a week he  was committed to the RAF and was sent to Blackpool for initial training.

 After stringent medical test's at St.John's Wood, London to ensure that he was fit for flying duties he was sent to No 14 Initial training Wing at Hastings. The  hotel in Hastings where he was billeted was on the sea front and an easy target for German  fighters sweeping across the channel, so the whole section was transferred to Bridlington. After three months Gordon and his fellow trainee airmen were transferred to Dalcross on the East coast of Scotland. Here they got their first chance to experience air to air firing with Boulton Paul Defiants (flown by many ex Battle of Britain Polish pilots). One of the exercises was flying along side a drogue towed by another aircraft and firing at it from different angles. In his final exams,Gordon finished in the top ten and was given a fortnight's leave, but this was cut short after 3 day's and he was posted to RAF Luffenham for crew formation and Initial flying training.    

 

 Here Gordon, now a air gunner, met Larry Copenhaver who was to become his pilot, Tubby Bass, bomb aimer, Jock Jones, navigator and Freddy Pears, wireless operator. They teamed up to become a crew. Larry was an American and had trained on A-20 Havocs. From Luffenham they were posted to Topcliffe to join 424 squadron to practise more advanced flying, cross country flights and night practice bombing runs over Norfolk. Gordon's first operational flight with this crew was a mine laying exercise in Kiel harbour and because it was their first op they had an experienced officer alongside Larry (Squadron Leader Allison who was resting after completing a tour) to advise him on the actual bombing run. After that they were to take part in many ops like Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and the Ruhr Valley where sometimes the defences were so intense that it became a matter of luck as to whether you got through or not. Gordon's boyhood friend, Johnny Middleton, was shot down on the approach leg to landing due to a night fighter attack.

Gordon (centre front) with his 424 sqn crew, crew photo is from when he was in 424 Squadron  with Larry Copenhaver,Tubby Bass, Jock Jones & Freddie Pears.

 

Gordon getting a lift form Freddie Pears

 In March 1943 Gordon was sent to RAF Driffield on a revision course, flying over Whitley Bay and dropping chemical sea markers and then flying round  in old Whitley bombers taking pot shots at the markers. After flying about ten ops with Larry Copenhaver, Gordon and the crew were split up which was a massive blow to them all as they had formed a very close bond. Gordon and his navigator, Jock Jones were posted to 432 squadron and after flying 3 ops with them were then posted on to 405 Squadron based at Gransden Lodge. Larry was transferred to the USA forces on 10-1-1944.

 

 On the night of 24th June 1943, three years after joining the RAF Gordon and the rest of the crew were on an op to Wuppertal in the Ruhr Valley, flying their fourth operation in five nights. Finding themselves off course they were picked up by enemy radar, being out of the main group. Realising they were on their own and with warning bleeps coming from their alarm system indicating that another aircraft was within a thousand yards of them, they braced themselves for an attack. After a moment of sheer numbing terror as the German fighter closed in and opened fire, Kucinsky, the  tail gunner shouted to the pilot to turn starboard.  Those words were his last, as almost immediately they were hit by a burst of gunfire made up of twenty millimetre cannon shells and 8mm bullets.  Sergeants Kucinsky and  Price were killed, the left tail unit and both starboard engines were also set on fire.

 Gordon's intercom and oxygen connections, sited above his head were blown away. Gordon tried to make contact with the rest of the crew, as instructed but in the darkness and with the aircraft lurching by the time he had reached the forward cabin, the rest of the crew had baled out. He made his way back to the fuselage to find his parachute which was stored next to the mid upper turret. Managing to get his parachute on, Gordon found the escape hatch and jumped, but owing to the trauma and lack of oxygen, blacked out as soon as he left the aircraft. When he came round he was on the ground in a field of potato's with a sprained ankle.

 A group of children arrived on the scene and ran off after seeing him only to return with a German police officer who drew his revolver. Stories were rife at the time throughout the RAF, about airmen being lynched by German civilians and he felt very worried. After telling the German that he wasn't armed and owing to the fact that he was unable to stand, the German said something to the children and they ran off and returned with a man pushing a wheel barrow. He was dumped in this and wheeled down to the local village and a police cell.

 

 Gordon was to  become a POW in Stalag 357as Number 270 and also Camp L6. W

 While in the Prisoner of War Camp,Gordon became firm friends with another POW-David Kenwell shot down in 419 squadron,who sadly died 6 years ago.

 

 After the war, Gordon went on to become a farmer for nearly twenty years before retiring to Middlesborough, North Yorkshire
 
 
 
  Photos courtesy of Gordon Tisbury , research by Linda Ibrom.