Unfortunately, we do not know much about James except that he was born in Australia and somehow joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve. He was a Flight Sergeant with 54 Squadron when he was killed in a flying accident on the 13th January 1944.
54 Squadron had left England in mid-1942 and by January 1943, it joined No. 1 Wing (Spitfire Wing) RAAF. The Wing was responsible for air defence duties against Japanese aircraft in the Darwin area. Initially, the Wing as a whole suffered from the inexperience of its pilots and mechanical problems caused during the shipment of Spitfires. Although contact with the Japanese was generally brief, 54 Squadron pilots scored a number of kills.
The report concerning the accident contained the following information:
Non operational loss when A58-214 (James’ aircraft) and A58-63 collided in flight above Humpty Doo, some 10 miles east-northeast of Strauss Strip at 1530 hrs on the 13th January 1944. A flight of four Spitfires (A58-214/63/221/27) were practicing interception with one Hudson and two Beauforts of 2 Squadron RAAF. A58-63 collided with A58-214, which resulted in the tail unit of A58-63 to become torn off, and one of the mainplanes of A58-214 to be completely torn off, resulting in both aircraft to crash. Pilots; A58-214: Flight Sergeant John Hoyle Whalley Serv#1527082 RAF and A58-63: Flight Sergeant James Basil Gibbs Serv#1320096 RAF were both killed.
James is buried in the Adelaide River War Cemetery. He can be found in Plot F, Row D and Grave 15. His headstone has the inscription, “Patient, brave and true.”
David Hamilton and Ron Rigg
Updated by Vinc Conant
The Spitfire Association