Gibson, John Malcomson (No. 126704)

Gibson, John Malcomson (John)

Lieutenant (Acting Captain)

No. 126704, 5 Battery, 45 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery

Killed in action between Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 June 1942 (aged 30)


Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Acroma, Libya (Grave 2. F. 1)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Newtownards and District War Memorial

First Newtownards Presbyterian Church

Regent House School

Queen’s University War Memorial

Stranmillis College Roll of Honour

Family grave headstone in Bangor Abbey Graveyard

First Comber Presbyterian Church (as Captain John Gibson)


John Malcomson (sometimes Malcolmson) Gibson was born on 29 March 1912 in Bangor Road, Newtownards and he was a son of James and Mary Eleanor Gibson (nee Malcomson, sometimes Malcolmson) who were married on 13 August 1908 in Conlig Presbyterian Church.  James Gibson, a carpenter from Newtownards, was a son of James Gibson, a grocer.  Mary Eleanor Malcomson from Newtownards was a daughter of Thomas Malcomson, a farmer.

The Gibson family lived in Donaghadee Road, Newtownards, Kimberley Buildings, Newtownards, and Glenside, Ballystockart, Comber.

James and Mary Eleanor Gibson (nee Malcomson) had at least three children:

Mary Ann (born 25 May 1909 in Donaghadee Road, Newtownards)

Elizabeth Malcomson (born 28 July 1910 in Donaghadee Road, Newtownards)

John Malcomson (born 29 March 1912 in Bangor Road, Newtownards)

These three children were baptised in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church.

John Gibson attended Castle Gardens Public Elementary School, Newtownards and then Regent House School, Newtownards from 1927 until 1932.  Then he went to Teacher Training College.  Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War he was appointed Principal of Ballystockart Public Elementary School and, while he was there, he and his mother and sister worshipped in First Comber Presbyterian Church.  He was an accomplished all-round sportsman – a successful sprinter, he played rugby for Ards Rugby Club and soccer for the Drones in the Summer League.  He was a keen tennis player and he also played hockey.

During the Second World War John Gibson served in the Royal Artillery, initially with the Battery composed for the most part of men from Newtownards and Bangor.  He joined the Battery before the outbreak of war and became a Sergeant.  Then he was posted to England where he obtained his commission.  He served with the Middle East Forces and initially he was reported missing believed killed during heavy fighting on 20/21 June 1942.  Later it was confirmed that he had died.  John Gibson and three of his comrades died on 20/21 June 1942 after being hit by shellfire at Tobruk – Sergeant Alexander Davidson from Newtownards, Gunner David McClinton from Newtownards and Gunner George Alfred Rayner from Glastonbury in Somerset.  Their gun position was sited some 2¼ miles south of Tobruk docks, on a broad plateau above an escarpment and about a thousand yards east of the road running almost due south out of Tobruk. Their Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) Building was on the same plateau but slightly further north.  The Axis Forces (21 Panzer Division) swept through their gun position sometime between 2.30 pm and 5.00 pm on Saturday 20 June and reached the harbour area shortly afterwards.

Lieutenant (Acting Captain) John Malcomson Gibson (No. 126704) was 30 when he died and he was buried in Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Acroma, Libya.  There is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:


Lieutenant (Acting Captain) John Malcomson Gibson (No. 126704) is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial; in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church; in Regent House School; on the Queen’s University War Memorial; on the Stranmillis College Roll of Honour; on the family grave headstone in Bangor Abbey Graveyard and in First Comber Presbyterian Church (as Captain John Gibson).