Few men have a better claim to be called a legend in his own lifetime than Guy Gibson. Leader of the famous Dambuster Raid of May, 1943 which became part of the popular folklore of the Second World War after the film in which Richard Todd took the part of the hero, he himself was tragically in an air crash in 1944. Born in India in 1918 and brought up in England in comfortable if somewhat disjointed circumstances, Guy Gibson joined the Royal Air Force in November, 1936. Thereafter his career can be seen as a battle between, on the one hand, his uncertain temperament and less than ideal private life, and, on the other, his undoubted skills as an airman and as a leader of men. The war was to bring him adventure and, later, fame. He took part in the first aerial attack of the war, on the Kiel Canal; he served in Fighter Command and then, in 1943, came the famous raid on the Mohne and Eder dams for which he was awarded the VC. By now a hero of international fame, he was sent on a Public Relations tour of North America, but basically he was a flyer and, refusing to remain grounded, he died an airmen's death.
Susan Ottaway, who has had full co-operation of the Gibson's family in writing this book, gives a sympathetic but by no means whitewashed picture of an unsettled character suddenly rocketed to fame and by no means sure how to handle it.
After leaving Sir William Perkins' Grammar School in Chertsey, Surrey, Susan Ottaway embarked upon a career in civil aviation. She has always had an interest in modern history and, in particular, Second World War aviation history. After working for a time in both Germany and Australia, she has settled back in England, working in book publishing.