Frederick Michael 'Mickey' Gibbs had only just started his training at Sandhurst when the Second World War broke out. His course was shortened, and in December 1939 Mickey Gibbs was given a regular commission into the Green Howards, with his Battalion stationed in India.
In late 1941, he answered the call for volunteers for Airborne service, and was one of the officers selected to join the 151 (British) Parachute Battalion. He successfully passed the Parachute Course and served with the unit, renumbered as 156 Battalion when it left India for Egypt, North Africa and Italy, before returning to the UK with the rest of the 4th Parachute Brigade in late 1943. Mickey Gibbs had risen to become a Captain, and was the Battalion Adjutant.
After many months of training and aborted operations in the Summer, the 1st Airborne Division finally undertook Op Market to Arnhem in September 1944. 4th Parachute Brigade landed on the second day on Ginkel Heath. 156 Battalion set off towards Arnhem in the late afternoon of 18 September 1944 towards Arnhem.
The Brigade advance was halted in the area of the Dreijenseweg north of Oosterbeek on the following day, and the unit withdrew back towards the village of Wolfheze. Here 4th Parachute Brigade regrouped, before attempting to continue to Arnhem the following day. German forces in the region were very strong however, and 156 Battalion suffered heavy casualties in the woods to the North-West of Oosterbeek, including the deaths of CO Lt Col des Voeux and his Second-in-Command, Major Ritson. The survivors were gathered together by Brigadier Hackett and Major Powell and took refuge on a hollow close to the Valkenburglaan near Oosterbeek. After a quick head count here it was found that Mickey Gibbs was one of those missing. He had been taken prisoner in the woods and spent the rest of the war in captivity.
Post-war Mickey Gibbs left Airborne service and retired from the Army in 1949 as an honorary Major after serving in Palestine and Malaya. In Palestine he had qualified as an Interpreter in Hebrew and worked in Intelligence posts. He was fortunate to survive the King David Hotel blast in Jerusalem, 1946.
Following his discharge from the Army, he settled in Cyprus and is believed to have helped the Intelligence community during the EOKA troubles in the 1950’s. He later received a civilian MBE ‘for services to the British community.’ He also reputedly survived several assassination attempts on Cyprus.
Mickey Gibbs died in December 1999.
With assistance from Niall CherryRead More