John Gibb was born in Edinburgh in 1884, and very little is known about his
early years. He moved to Newcastle-upon-Tyne at the turn of the century
where he was to meet his future wife Letticia. They were married on the
16th February 1907, and their first child David was born on the 25th February
1908. Two further children were born before the outbreak of the first
world war, Letticia in 1910, and Catherine Grace in 1912.
In October 1915, at the age of 31, he volunteered and was enlisted into the 1st Battalion Tyne Electrical Engineers. He was posted to the 8th Anti Aircraft Signal Section in June 1916, and on the 3rd of July 1916 was sent to France. There is no record of the locations where he served, however on numerous occasions during his first year in France he was promoted to acting Corporal or Staff Sergeant. During August 1917 he was given the rank of Temporary Staff Sergeant which he held for the rest of the war.
On his return to England on the 1st of July 1919, he remained with his regiment until his discharge on the 14th September 1919. The cause of his discharge was re-enlistment, and on the 15th September he was enlisted into the Royal Engineers at Chatham, as a Sapper on a Short Service engagement. During 1920 his fourth and final child Henry George (Harry) was born.
He was appointed to the rank of Lance Corporal on the 19th July 1921, and extended his service for a further 12 months in December of the same year. He was promoted to the rank of Corporal in September 1922, before finally ending this period of military service on the 14th of December 1922 at the age of 38.
He returned to civilian life, but sadly during 1924 his wife Letticia died leaving him to raise four children on his own. During the inter war period he remarried, but there is very little information about his second wife.
The military story resumes in June 1940, when at the age of 56 he volunteered and was once again enlisted into the Royal Engineers. He was enlisted on the 10th as a Sapper, and promoted the very same day to the rank of acting Corporal. Clearly he did not disclose his true age, or the Royal Engineers were aware of his age, or discovered his previous record and chose to ignore his age. The latter may explain why he was promoted on his very first day of service.
On the 6th of July 1940 he was posted to the 1st School of Military Engineers Depot Company, and on the 31st of August was granted the rank of paid acting Staff Sergeant. He was posted to the 127th (Dorset) Company on the 6th September 1940, and was sent to the Middle East on the 4th of January 1941. On the 27th February 1941 he was granted the rank of paid Staff Sergeant, and shortly afterwards was sent to Greece with the allied expeditionary force.
He was reported missing on the 28th of April 1941, which coincided with the allied evacuation from Greece. Nothing is known about the place of his capture, although Kalamata would be a reasonable assumption. On the 31st of December 1941 he was confirmed as a prisoner of war at Stalag 18A. The group photograph shown below was taken at 18A by the Red Cross on the 27th February 1943, and was endorsed with his name and POW number 2354. He was 59 years old at the time!
|Group||Camp Postman||John Gibb with 'Sammy'||John Gibb with William Marsden (on left)|
According to his service record he was held as a prisoner of war at Stalag18A
from the 29th of June 1941 until the 26th of May 1945. He was admitted to
the 92nd Reception Camp, and on the 21st of March 1946 he was posted to the 1st
Civil Resettlement Unit. He was released to Reserve on the 20th of October
1946, at the age of 62!
The final chapter of his military story occurred on the 10th of February 1954. On this date he was discharged from the Reserve as he had "attained the age limit, no further liability for recall". This probably came as a relief to him as he was 70 years old at the time!
Whether or not his true age was disclosed on enlistment in 1940 we shall never know, however it is clear that his age was inaccurately recorded in the official records.
The final chapter of his life ended on the 29th of November 1955 when he died aged 71.
John Gibb's great grandson, Jeremy, writes:
I was born in 1959 and therefore never had the privilege of meeting him,
perhaps you did? I now wish to find out as much information as I can about
his life, and in particular about his time spent in 18A.
I hope that this page will assist me in my search, and I would be grateful for any information that visitors to this fantastic site may have to offer.