Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

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Pen Pusher
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Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by Pen Pusher »

A gravestone honouring the Dambusters' dog - whose name is a racist slur - has been replaced.

The 617 Squadron's mascot, a black Labrador, died on the day of its famous "bouncing bomb" raid on German dams in 1943.

A memorial at the Dambusters' World War Two base, RAF Scampton, bearing the dog's name was removed.

The RAF said it did not want to give prominence to an offensive term that went against its ethos.

Sir Edward Leigh, Conservative MP for Gainsborough, said he was "very fearful of our ability today to erase or re-write history".

Kris Hendrix, campaigns manager at the RAF Museum, said the dog - which the BBC is not naming - was a "drinking buddy" for squadron members and would consume litres of beer before passing out.

He was hit by a car and killed on 16 May 1943, but his death was kept from the airmen as it was feared they might see it as a bad omen.

Mr Hendrix added: "It was such a famous dog, it was such a famous squadron and that meant the grave has been kept until today.

"The standards have changed throughout the years, while it may not have been a controversial name during the Second World War, things are very different now."

Sir Edward said he had written to the station commander of RAF Scampton about the change.

In his letter, shared with the BBC, he said: "Undoubtedly we are both more sensitive and more sensible today when it comes to the delicateness of racialist and derogatory terminology which had been used with unfortunate informality in the past.

"I am, however, very fearful of our ability today to erase or re-write history. The past needs to be explained, taught about, and learned from - not re-written."
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-l ... e-53436447
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CJS
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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by CJS »

Similar to the Colston debate isn't it?

I think that, broadly speaking, I agree with Sir Edwards' final paragraph. Clearly the word has to be used in a very different way now to how it has been in the past, but it seems to be becoming all to easy to remove those things we are ashamed of.

To be honest though, this was just the name of a dog with a name that is now considered by many (not all, it should be pointed out) to be deeply offensive. The dog's part in the story is effectively being removed, which seems like a bit of a shame. Couldn't it be replaced with a different memorial that simply didn't name it?
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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by keithjs »

So I guess it'll now be reduced to rubble and used as hardcore for A15 road repairs will it... :worried: :disappointed:
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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by Tommy »

keithjs wrote:
Fri 17 Jul 2020, 7:03 am
So I guess it'll now be reduced to rubble and used as hardcore for A15 road repairs will it... :worried: :disappointed:
Nope.
They added the old gravestone is being kept in a safe location while the Air Historical Branch decides what to do with it.
I can’t find a source for it, but others have said that the old headstone will likely be displayed in the museum.

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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by Tommy »

CJS wrote:
Fri 17 Jul 2020, 6:42 am
Couldn't it be replaced with a different memorial that simply didn't name it?
That’s exactly what has happened, isn’t it? The new headstone simply doesn’t say the name.

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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

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Tommy wrote:
Fri 17 Jul 2020, 7:11 am
keithjs wrote:
Fri 17 Jul 2020, 7:03 am
So I guess it'll now be reduced to rubble and used as hardcore for A15 road repairs will it... :worried: :disappointed:
Nope.
They added the old gravestone is being kept in a safe location while the Air Historical Branch decides what to do with it.
I can’t find a source for it, but others have said that the old headstone will likely be displayed in the museum.
Yes, but whatever they do with it except destroying it, 'that word' is still visable wherever it is surely :disappointed: .
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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by Tommy »

Not passing comment or anything, just correcting you assertion that it’ll be destroyed.

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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by rockfordstone »

i wondered how long it would take to get on here.

it was doing the rounds on facebook yesterday and as usuall the gammony types were triggered and were flapping their lips about BLM, snowflakes, PC gone made, re writing history and some classic whataboutery

you'd think the name of the dog (which anyone who has any interest in 617 knows anyway) is more important than the acts of Gibson et al.

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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by Wrexham Mackem »

keithjs wrote:
Fri 17 Jul 2020, 7:17 am
Tommy wrote:
Fri 17 Jul 2020, 7:11 am
keithjs wrote:
Fri 17 Jul 2020, 7:03 am
So I guess it'll now be reduced to rubble and used as hardcore for A15 road repairs will it... :worried: :disappointed:
Nope.
They added the old gravestone is being kept in a safe location while the Air Historical Branch decides what to do with it.
I can’t find a source for it, but others have said that the old headstone will likely be displayed in the museum.
Yes, but whatever they do with it except destroying it, 'that word' is still visable wherever it is surely :disappointed: .
I think the difference is that when placed in a museum, its in a very clear historical context. You'd have sought it out, with other historical artefacts that tell a story. Outside on the lawn people will be walking past it going about their daily business. Not seeking it out, they can't really avoid it.
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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by NAM Updater »

To be fair the last time that I was there, you had to be visiting the museum to be able to go out onto the airfield to see the grave.
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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by rockfordstone »

someone has started a petition saying it has been moved to the museum and is an eradication of history.... how can you eradicate something if you have put it on display in a museum?

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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by CJS »

Tommy wrote:
Fri 17 Jul 2020, 7:14 am
CJS wrote:
Fri 17 Jul 2020, 6:42 am
Couldn't it be replaced with a different memorial that simply didn't name it?
That’s exactly what has happened, isn’t it? The new headstone simply doesn’t say the name.
I should probably have actually read the article :lol:
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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by boff180 »

My (probably unpopular) view is that there needs to be some form of distinction.

Statues being removed I agree with, they are glorification and a celebration of the actions of some despicable person.

However in this instance, it is a grave stone. It is a memorial and a marker to the memory a loved one who (rightly or wrongly through no fault of their own) was called an unacceptable name through no fault of their own.

Removing gravestones because of them having unacceptable names by modern standards does not sit well with me, be it a person or beloved animal.

If the gravestone is offensive for other reasons (like the one in Adelaide which had a photo of the guy giving the bird, although that could be classed as funny to some, or it uses offensive words as a comment or strap line) then fine. But actual real names, no.

Edit as an example of removing grave stones for content rather than names - some have recently been removed in Sussex as they highlighted the individuals were music hall black-face entertainers. Which is understandable.

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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by Domvickery »

It’s.

A.

Dog.
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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by Spiny Norman »

Sir Edward Leigh is keen to try to stop history being 're-written'. He is quoted as saying "Wing Cdr Gibson’s dog was much loved by the Dambusters and was killed while he was on a raid risking his life to defend our country."

And yet here he is re-writing history because, as we all know, the dog was killed before 617 took off. History relies on accuracy, not dog-whistling...

Having read some of the comments online on this topic, it's clear that a lot of white - and they are most definitely white - people are finding great relish in using the N-word. It's not a good look.

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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by rockfordstone »

Domvickery wrote:
Fri 17 Jul 2020, 9:22 am
It’s.

A.

Dog.
this is my take on it. the name of the dog is largely irrelevant in the tale of Guy Gibson.

the headstone is being moved to the museum so history is being retained, and given it's written in a historical document, anyone with any knowledge or interest in 617 squadron will already know the name. those who don't probably wouldn't have cared until people started this mission to stoke outrage.

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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by CJS »

rockfordstone wrote:
Fri 17 Jul 2020, 9:44 am
Domvickery wrote:
Fri 17 Jul 2020, 9:22 am
It’s.

A.

Dog.
this is my take on it. the name of the dog is largely irrelevant in the tale of Guy Gibson.

the headstone is being moved to the museum so history is being retained, and given it's written in a historical document, anyone with any knowledge or interest in 617 squadron will already know the name. those who don't probably wouldn't have cared until people started this mission to stoke outrage.
This bit is important I think. Had they left it in situ and done nothing, I wonder what bad things would have happened. They're not removing it, if anything they will create a situation whereby more people will see it than would have done if they had left it in place.

If, as NAM says, you have to enter the museum in order to access the memorial anyway, then it's almost certain that more people will now see it.

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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by jalfrezi »

I doubt the dog's grave will survive the property developers that will be building on the Scampton site, so it will be largely irrelevant in the long run....

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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by CJS »

Here's a genuine question for the mods, if I was to have posted in this topic using the dog's name - not in a racist way, but because it was his name - would it have been edited?

Just curious what you'd have done. I have no intention of doing so, I should add, but that's perhaps because I'm not a fan of the word at all (although it arguably has a place in certain areas of popular culture).
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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by Domvickery »

Nope, the swear filter would’ve done it for us

If it didnt yep we would have
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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by Spiny Norman »

jalfrezi wrote:
Fri 17 Jul 2020, 12:54 pm
I doubt the dog's grave will survive the property developers that will be building on the Scampton site, so it will be largely irrelevant in the long run....
There's an interesting thread on that Twitter claiming that the dog was run over deliberatedly (on the base) as it wasn't popular and wasn't buried where it's supposedly buried, but in a woodland nearby!

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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by Tomahawk »

Domvickery wrote:
Fri 17 Jul 2020, 1:11 pm
Nope, the swear filter would’ve done it for us

If it didnt yep we would have
On a related point and to be honest I can't fully remember the scene from the film but someone was pointing out elsewhere that whilst the dog's name was either omitted or changed (to 'Trigger' in one US showing), in most television showings the Morse transmission of the original word was never modified so anyone that could read or understand Morse would 'hear' the word and wasn't that a problem?

Its a serious subject but that did make me smile.

Of course the reality of the situation is that whilst we might see this as an issue of changing standards the facts are that the US armed forces that served and were stationed in the UK during WWII were part of a segregated organisation, something that the British Government had to accept and also led to many examples of violence and indeed deaths on British streets that had nothing to do with the Axis. The dog's name hasn't become an issue, it was always an issue within the larger context.

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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by DragonRapide »

Spiny Norman wrote:
Fri 17 Jul 2020, 1:24 pm
jalfrezi wrote:
Fri 17 Jul 2020, 12:54 pm
I doubt the dog's grave will survive the property developers that will be building on the Scampton site, so it will be largely irrelevant in the long run....
There's an interesting thread on that Twitter claiming that the dog was run over deliberatedly (on the base) as it wasn't popular and wasn't buried where it's supposedly buried, but in a woodland nearby!
I was told when on a course at CFS ground school many years ago that due to the on-going rivalry (if not "beef!") between 617 and 27 Sqn in the Vulcan years, what is most likely to lay under that headstone is a large plastic elephant...

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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by Mike »

The ongoing rivalry is between IX(B) and 617 squadrons, and goes back to the days of the Tirpitz and a dispute over which squadron actually sank it. It includes a trophy from the ship (a bulkhead) that was ‘stolen’ back and forth between the squadrons over the years.

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Re: Guy Gibson's Dog Headstone replaced

Post by Tommy »

An actual historian speaks:


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