Geoff Bibby(Parnell 1935-38). OC of the Month - April 2022
Thursday, 28 April 2022
Our April Old Collegian of the Month is Geoff Bibby (Parnell, 1935-38). Geoff is a retired teacher and a veteran of World War II where he served in the RNZAF and then the RAF in Britain. Geoff currently resides in Havelock North, Hawkes Bay, where he celebrated his 100th birthday in January of this year. The KCOCA delivered Geoff a cake to mark this special occasion and sat down with Geoff and his family to reminisce on his time at King's College during the late 1930's and what it was like to be a young man involved in one of the greatest world conflicts. It was very special to be able to connect with Geoff and we thoroughly enjoyed hearing about his life and the interesting experiences he has had along the way. As well as our OC of the Month interview you can read more about Geoff in our ANZAC Day Tribute in the latest Autumn issue of the King's Courier Magazine, and also see him in our 2022 ANZAC Day Memorial Service video where he has a special message to the students of the College today. Links to both are available at the end of this interview.
It’s difficult to say because of course it is such a long time ago and of course it was a time of such uncertainty in the world. I was inspired though by my brother Athol Bibby who was older than me and who was also at Kings, and he was very keen on going into teaching. One or two of the Masters particularly encouraged me in that direction as well, particularly Mr Greenbank and Mr Hunt.
I enjoyed every moment of my time at King’s … especially the time on the cricket ground where I found I had natural ability as a fast bowler and batsman. It was a fantastic time;
I particularly enjoyed the camaraderie and being part of the team. The friendships gained at King’s have stayed strong and constant.
Mr Hunt – he was my Parnell Housemaster and provided me with a wonderful testimonial letter as I left school to take with me, and Mr Greenbank always gave me great encouragement.
Use every moment you have got at King’s to your advantage because it is a wonderful school, and it has wonderful messages to convey. If you take note from these messages and apply these to your own life, you will never go wrong.
Never take for granted the opportunities that come your way and always try and make the most of them. Keep yourself fit and healthy it will always stand you in good stead. Always be considerate and generous to others.
When I transferred from the army and joined the RNZAF - I first trained in Rotorua, then Canada and then I went to England where I joined 101 Squadron in the RAF and trained on the Anson and Lancaster aircraft. I eventually became a navigator on the Lancaster aircraft. It was the most wonderful plane to fly in. A great plane that took us through to Germany and bought most of us back - very seldom let us down.
As the navigator, I sat right behind the pilot and if I wanted him to change course or anything I would just pass the paper up to him. I was responsible for keeping the aircraft on course at all times, to reach the target and then get us all back home safely to base. As well as myself and the Pilot there was the bomb aimer, the flight Engineer, a radio operator, and a mid and rear gunner.
The crew were on call 24 hours a day, which meant we could be flying ops during the day or night. It didn’t much matter to me though as I had to always work behind a blackout curtain. There were many times I was very pleased that was the case.
With respect to the Pilot, I just do not know how he got through the work he had to do. He was a brilliant man and a wonderful friend and thanks to him I am talking to you now.
The most challenging part of my job was that I lost so many friends along the way, but also the technical aspects of Navigating were very tricky –my maths had to be right every time…we didn’t have any computers then of course and very basic equipment, so if I got it wrong, we could have all ‘gone for a Burton’.
This was an expression that was used by the lads at the time for when aircrew didn’t return from an op and were likely shot down. A popular beer at the time was from the Burton Brewery company in England, and our way of coping with the bad news was to think of them as having just gone down to the pub.
Every time ANZAC Day comes around, I always remember the youngsters who were friends of mine at King’s who just went away very happily, thought it was the biggest adventure…. but just before they were due to come back, in many cases, they went on their last trip and never came back.
I don’t know how the families of those boys who didn’t come back, coped.
Biggest achievement - getting married to a wonderful woman and having three lovely children.
A Swiss army knife with everything on it! A flint for fire and a tarpaulin for shelter and water capture. I would also have a photo of my family always in my pocket.
To be remembered at all would be something in itself! But if I have to say anything it would be along the lines of …. a good husband, father, a loyal friend and a proud New Zealander.
King's Courier Magazine - Autumn 2022
ANZAC Day Memorial Service 2022
If you know of an Old Collegian who would make a great OC of the Month then please get in touch with Nicola Davies at: firstname.lastname@example.org