Edward Lester "Eddie" Gimbel

RCAF,   USAAF   -   Captain

DFC (UK),   MiD (UK)
DFC (US),   AM (x5)

Born 28 December 1916 in Chicago, Il. - home there.
He gave his peacetime profession as “Independent Means.”
Enlisted in Windsor, 9 October 1940.
To No.1 Equipment Depot, 30 March 1941.
To No.1 ITS, 10 April 1941; graduated as LAC, 16 May 1941 when posted to
No.10 EFTS; graduated 3 July 1941 when posted to
No.14 SFTS; graduated as Sergeant, 25 September 1941.
To Embarkation Depot, 26 September 1941.
To RAF Trainee Pool, 11 October 1941.
Further trained at No.53 OTU, Aston Down.
Commissioned 5 September 1942.
Promoted Flying Officer, 5 March 1943.
Shot down on 4 April 1943, he was wounded but evaded.
Left Gibraltar for the UK on 5 August 1943 & arriving in Liverpool on 11 August 1943.
Ed Gimbel
Repatriated to Canada, 5 September 1943.
To “Y” Depot again, 8 October 1943.
Overseas 21 October 1943.
Transferred to USAAF, 13 June 1944.
Began flying a Mustang and he resumed escorting Flying Fortresses and Liberators on bombing runs over France and then Germany, as well as attacking ground and train targets.
In January 1945, he was ordered to instruct pilots on fighter tactics in England.
He returned to his squadron in February 1945.
On 16 April, 1945, his airplane was struck by anti-aircraft flak over Prague, Czechoslovakia after he had destroyed four aircraft on the ground.
He was at a low altitude and had to climb back up to 10,000 feet to bail out. The parachute cord wrapped around his neck and caused him to lose consciousness. A Czech farmer found him and turned him over to the Gestapo. He was held prisoner for 15 days at the German concentration camp at Buhmerwald Castle until the U.S. 97th Infantry Division liberated them on 1 May, 1945.
On May 28, 1945, he was awarded the American Distinguished Flying Cross medal.
He was honorably discharged from military service on August 11, 1945.
Over all he recorded destroying 15 enemy aircraft, captured one German plane, and had destroyed 30 German supply trains.
He flew 224 training missions and 450 combat missions, logging 812 hours of combat flying time.
Among the other medals awarded him were three purple hearts for wounds he had received.
Died 25 April, 1977 in Chicago, Il.
See G.A. Brown, Those Who Dared.


Sergeant Tew Is First To Get Wings in Aylmer

Aylmer, Sept. 24, 1941 - (Staff) – When Wing Commander G. N. Irwin pinned pilot's wings on Sergeant W. R. Tew today, the first man had graduated from No. 14 Service Flying Training School here. The school was opened only a few months ago. The Toronto sergeant-pilot was top man in the class which graduated today and was the first to have the Wings pinned on his uniform.
Present for the graduation of the Ontario class was Wing Commander L. W. Dickens, D.F.C., A.F.C. in charge of training in No. 1 Command. He addressed the class briefly before the presentation.
"I won't say anything about the war, you'll find out about that soon, enough," he told the graduates. "It will be a more serious proposition when you get to England."
He cautioned the class members not to consider receiving their wings as the end of their training period and informed them there would be more training in England with a different type of plane.
"I am certain you will be able to meet any requirements you may be up against," he continued,
"I think an airman is like a captain of a ship — he wants an open sea; so, if you are going to go mucking around in a plane and stunting give yourself plenty of room; it doesn't matter so much then," he warned.
"However," he added, "if you have to bail out, don't blame me for telling you to go ahead."
Leading Aircraftman Reynolds of Houston, Texas, escaped with minor bruises when the Harvard training plane he was piloting from the school crashed on a farm near the school before the presentation. Wreckage of the plane was strewn for hundreds of yards in a ditch and over fields.
The graduating class and other airmen marched onto the field while the band from Fingal Bombing and Gunnery School played. A large crowd of friends and relatives of the graduating airmen attended the ceremony.
Graduates were from Ontario, with practically all sections of the Province from Windsor to Montreal represented. A few were from Toronto. Student fliers are trained as single-seater fighter pilots.
Americans in the graduating class were: W. E. Dunsmore, Pittsburgh; E. L. Gimbel, Chicago; S. B. Walcott, Providence, R.I.; E. Ives, Springwater, N.Y.; R. L. Alexander, St. Anne, Ill.
The Canadians were: W. R. Tew, Toronto; H. K. Lefroy, Oakville; C. S. Yarnell, Toronto; J. W. Hicks, Niagara Falls, Ont. J. H. Ryan, Toronto; J. M. Brodie, Saint John, N.B.; A. D. Melville, Winnipeg; I. C. Carson, Hamilton; A. H. McLaren, Montreal; H. T. Mossip, Thorndale; W. C. Wigston, Whitby; E. A. Glover, Toronto; N. C. Pow, Toronto; E. F. Horton, Owen Sound; S. M. Scott, Toronto; N. C. H. Howe, Toronto; R. H. Lean and R. A. Frith, Toronto.


Tremendous Bomb Loads Fall on Hitler's Important War Industries

London, Oct. 10, 1942 — (CP) — More than 100 American Flying Fortresses and Liberator bombers with an escort of 500 allied fighter planes including two Canadian squadrons, home from the greatest allied daylight attack yet launched against Hitler's war foundry, again have amazed British air experts, who know from grim experience the hazards of daylight operations.

All Doubts Erased
Return of all but four of the United States bombers which stormed over occupied France yesterday and unloaded tons of bombs on factories and railroad yards, apparently erased any doubts experts may have had concerning the Fortresses. All of the fighters returned safely.
British air correspondents said the weight of the attack far exceeded the daylight efforts of the Germans during the "blitz" of September, 1940. Fifty German bombers and 200 fighters over Britain in daylight then constituted a "big raid."
On the last day of the Battle of Britain, September 15, 1940, the Germans sent over 500 planes in two groups of 250 each and lost at least 185 of them.
The allied fighters reported shooting down at least five German fighters yesterday and the score of the bombers has not been tallied officially.

Carry Great Loads
Two R.C.A.F. fighter pilots — F/L George Murray, D.F.C., of Halifax, and Sgt/P E. L. Gimbel, Chicago — shared in destruction of one German Focke-Wulf 190. Murray and Gimbel are members of the Spitfire squadron commanded by S/L Keith Hodson, D.F.C., of London, Ont.
None of the German planes used against Britain could carry the loads which the four-motored bombers transported to Lille yesterday. The Fortresses can carry three tons of bombs, the Liberators four.
The Liberator crews claimed the destruction of seven Nazi fighters for the loss of one of their own planes.
Fighter pilots called the American bombers the "best bait" ever put up for the German air force because the Germans send up all available planes to stop them. They then get a chance at the German fighters.

Refuse to Battle
In recent months the R.A.F. has tried everything in sweeps to entice the German fighters into combat, but the only serious challenge was during the Dieppe raid.
The German radio broadcast a threat of "reprisals" for the raid last night, but there was no elaboration. The German high command earlier had issued a communique claiming the destruction of 16 allied aircraft, "some" of them Fortresses.
It was the first time the Nazis mentioned Flying Fortresses, although this was their 14th raid over western Europe. It appeared that the Germans have been withholding from their people news that American air forces are participating in European activities.


Locomotive Damaged! Germane Attack English Coastal Area

LONDON. Dec. 14, 1942 - (AP) - Royal Canadian Air Force fighters attacked railway targets in Normandy, damaging a locomotive, and made more sweeps over Northern France this afternoon in which they met no enemy aircraft, an RCAF communique said tonight.
The Canadian squadrons did not lose a single ship in these operations, the communique added.
The locomotive was damaged by Pilot Ed Gimbel, Chicago, and Sgt. Pilot J. A. Chapin of Brantford, Ont.
Chapin delivered a broadside attack and saw his shots spattering across the ground into the engine. Gimbel attacked head-on as the train entered a cut, and both pilots reported seeing clouds of steam arising from the locomotive which stopped soon after the attack. On the way home Chapin machine-gunned a coast gun post.
The Germans attacked several areas on the Northeast English coast tonight, with bombs from one raider causing a number of casualties. Some raiders dropped bombs earlier, but there were no reports of casualties then. Ground defenses put up heavy gunfire. (The Berlin radio said German bombers in low-level attacks this afternoon attacked barracks between Weymouth and Stalbanshead on the English East coast, doing "considerable damage with heavy calibre bombs" with none of the German aircraft being lost.)


Naples Bombed Again By R.A.F. Says Rome Radio
Normandy Railway Targets Struck at Monday By R.C.A.F. Units

Rome (From Italian Broadcasts), Dec. 15, 1942 — (AP) — The Italian high command announced today that Naples was bombed again last night. The communique said only that the raiders dropped "some dozens of bombs" and that there had been no reports of civilian casualties as yet. (There has been no allied report so far of new air blows against Naples.)

R.C.A.F. Bombs Normandy
Royal Canadian Air Force fighters attacked railway targets in Normandy, damaging a locomotive, and made more sweeps over northern France Monday afternoon in which they met no enemy aircraft, an R.C.A.F. communique said today.
The Canadian squadrons did not lose a single ship in these operations, the communique added.
The locomotive was damaged by P/O Ed Gimbel, Chicago, and Sgt. Pilot J. A. Chapin, of Brantford, Ont.
Chapin delivered a broadside attack and saw his shots spattering across the ground into the engine. Gimbel attacked head-on as the train entered a cut, and both pilots reported seeing clouds of steam arising from the locomotive which stopped soon after the attack.
On the way home Chapin machine-gunned a coast gun post.
The Germans attacked several areas on the northeast English coast last night, with bombs from one raider causing a number of casualties. Some raiders dropped bombs earlier, but there were no reports of casualties then. Ground defences put up heavy gunfire.
Flying Fortress crews, who participated in the raid on Rouen, France, Saturday, said today that the Germans attempted a new trick with the apparent purpose of luring the B-17's into a trap, but the trick did not work.
The Nazi artifice was exposed by Lieut. W. M. Lewis, of Kenosha; Wis., and Sgt. Donald Bevan, of Springfield, Mass., who said that at one point they noted that several German fighter planes engaged themselves in a mock air fight. Apparently the Nazis hoped the Fortresses and some of their escort of 300 fighter planes would mix in the fight and be caught unawares.


Bombing Trains, Buildings, Battling Foe in Dogfight Day’s Work For Canadians
Four German Fighters Shot Down, Others Damaged in Sunday Operations—
Boys in Great Spirits On Return

With the R.C.A.F. Somewhere in England, Jan. 18, 1943 - (CP Cable) - Adding to the fury of Britain's renewed aerial assault on the enemy, Canadian Spitfire pilots Sunday destroyed four German fighters, damaged a number of others and successfully attacked several locomotives inside France in their biggest day's operations of recent months.

Three Planes Missing
Pilots from three Canadian squadrons took part in the operations, which ended in what several described as one of the biggest dogfights they had been in.
Three Canadian planes are missing.
The Canadian squadrons were led by S/Ls Bud Malloy, of Halifax; Fred Kelly, of Beaverton, Ont., and Keith Hodson, D.F.C., of London, Ont. While some planes remained thousands of feet over France to guard against enemy fighters, designated pilots dived for attacks on trains and buildings with cannon and machine-gun fire. In some cases a lone pilot would attack a locomotive. Varying the technique for other cases; a succession of machines streaked in for one attack after another, and pilots on watch high up reported plumes of steam from damaged engines rising up at a number of points.
Kelly; F/L Dick Ellis, of Montreal; P/O M. Johnston, of Selkirk, Man., and P/O Ed Gimbel, of Chicago, shot down the fighters.
"I got in about a three-second burst at one coming almost head-on," said Ellis. "I saw him go right into the ground!”
P/O L. W. Powell, of Edmonton, a D.F.C. decorated engine-buster with more than a score of locomotives to his credit, added another when he raked a freight train from end to end.
Sgt W. J. (Jock) Kinniard, of 12424 102nd street, Edmonton, flew No. 2 with Powell, and said: "I saw only a big cloud of smoke on the first run and could not see anything to shoot at after Powell had gone over the engine ahead of me.”
On the second run Kinniard managed to get in a burst of fire at the engine, while Powell was strafing a gun post near the tracks.

Had to Race For Home
P/O Bob Earle, of 60 East Drive, Victoria, B.C., and Sgt. A. M. B. Ketterson, of 3652 Northcliffe Avenue, Montreal, damaged an engine at the outskirts of a shunting yard. On the way out Earle fired at three Focke-Wulf 190's and later was attacked by three others when without ammunition. He had to race for home.
F/L Barry Needham, of Wynyard, Sask., shared in attacks on two locomotives with Sgt. G. L. Marshal, of 2982 West 3rd avenue, Vancouver, and P/O K. I. Robb, of Lachine, Que.
F/L J. D. Hall, of 3 Ridgeway road, Toronto, attacked three trains. Other locomotives were fired on by F/O Hugh Godefroy, of 3 Oriole Parkway, Toronto; F/L Frank Grant, of Brockville; F/O Dave McKay of Winnipeg, and Sgt. E. J. Levesque, of 71 Melrose Avenue, Ottawa.
Up top, engagements with enemy fighters were going on while the Spitfires thundered back and forth at a low altitude for their strafing activities.
"The one I got came at me from an angle," said Johnston. "I pulled away from him and saw tracers going by me. Then I got behind him and got in a long burst."
P/O E. J. Roff, of Richmond, Que., scored damage on two enemy aircraft during the fray, and Malloy and P/O D. J. McCrimmon, of Sylvan Lake, Alta., each scored a single damaged.
Godefroy notched strikes on two enemy fighters in addition to a locomotive he hit earlier. Others damaging Nazi fighters were F/L G. B. Murray, D.F.C., of Halifax, and Sgt. Frank B. Evans, of South Porcupine, Ont.
Altogether it was a great day for Canadians in the fighter command and the boys were in great spirits as their planes shuttled off for the channel crossing after news got around that the R.A.F. had been over Berlin the previous night.


Decorate RCAF Fliers For Effective Attacks

Ottawa, March 22, 1943 - (CP) - The RCAF today announced the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to six Canadians and two Americans in the R.C.A.F., a Bar to the D.F.C. already held by a Saskatchewan squadron leader, and the Distinguished Flying Medal to an American in the R.C.A.F.
The award winners:

Acting Sqdn. Ldr. Charles Stewart Dowie, D.F.C., son of Joseph A. Dowie, Leader, Sask.

F/O Irving Clark Cowan, son of Mrs. Hannah Cowan, Lower Montague, P.E.I.
F/O Warren. Waugh Sutton, son of Harry Henry Sutton, Gibsland, La.
F/O Richard Emmett Cline, son of William Edward Cline, Vancouver.
F/O Anthony Wreford Gubb, husband of Mrs. Jean L. Gubb, Westmount, Que,
F/O Paul Albert Hartman, Toronto, brother of Mrs. Scott Clough, Readfield, Me.
P/O John Aldrige Reynolds, son of Mrs. Agnes Ethel Reynolds, Winnipeg.
F/O Malcolm Graham Mackenzie, son of Mrs. Kathleen Mackenzie, Kenora, Ont.
P/O Edward Lester Gimbel, son of Ralph Edward Gimbel, Chicago.

F/S Ralph Edgar Taylor, son of William Hansel Taylor, Boonville, Ind.

Hartman's citation said:
"One night in October, 1942, Hartman sighted a large enemy merchant vessel escorted by two destroyers. Despite intense anti-aircraft fire and a dense smoke screen, he made five runs over the target before he was satisfied his torpedo could be successfully aimed. Later reports revealed the vessel was destroyed.
“On many other occasions this offices participated in shipping strikes, exhibiting great initiative, courage and determination, which have at all times been an inspiration to his fellow pilots and great assistance to his squadron commander."


GIMBEL, P/O Edward Lester (J15890) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.403 Squadron
Award effective 9 March 1943 as per London Gazette dated 23 March 1943 &
AFRO 757/43 dated 30 April 1943

This officer has taken part in a very large number of sorties over enemy territory including a number as escort to heavy bombers. Pilot Officer Gimbel, who is an excellent section leader, has destroyed two enemy aircraft. He has at all times displayed great keenness and devotion to duty.

NOTE: Public Record Office Air 2/4951 has recommendation drafted 22 February 1943 by W/C K.L.B. Hodson.

This officer has been actively engaged on operational flying for the past eleven months. During this time he has done four Rhubarbs and 70 offensive sweeps over enemy territory. He has proved to be an excellent section leader. Besides damaging four locomotives he has destroyed two enemy aircraft and probably destroyed one and shared in the probable destruction of another.

During certain periods the squadron suffered considerable losses, when detailed to escort Fortresses on deep penetrations, and his ever present sense of humour and unfailing keenness were of great value.


Canadians Down 7 Nazi Craft, Score Probable, Smash 4 More

With the R.C.A.F. Somewhere in England, Dec. 20, 1943 - (CP) - Canadian fighters, supporting widespread Allied bomber activity over France and Belgium, today destroyed seven German planes, probably got another and damaged four more for their biggest victory since Nov. 3, when R.C.A.F. fighters shot down 11 Germans.
F/O Andy MacKenzie, a 32-year-old former flying instructor from Montreal, was the leading scorer with a pair of enemy planes to his credit and another probably destroyed.
The Canadians' bag included five fighters, destroyed by the Red Indian squadron flying under the new commander, S/L Jimmie Lambert of Winnipeg, in support of medium bombers attacking military objectives in Northern France. Lambert himself was one of the successful Red Indian pilots along with Mackenzie, F/L Ed Gimbel of Chicago and F/O Tommy De Courcy of Windsor, Ont.
Two German bombers, a Junkers 88 and a Dornier 217, were destroyed earlier in the day over Brussels in sweeps supporting the United States heavy bomber raid on Bremen. An R.C.A.F. communiqué gave no indication what the German bombers were doing in the air at the time.
Four Canadian fighters were lost during the day.
F/L Cam Cameron destroyed the Junkers while F/O D. Givens of Montreal and F/O L. A. Dunn of Toronto shared in the destruction of the Dornier.
MacKenzie, who was engaging the enemy for the second time in 35 sweeps, shot down a Focke-Wulf 190, scored a "probable" against a Messerschmitt 109 and then got another Focke-Wulf. He shot down the second Focke-Wulf after shaking a couple of Nazis off his tail and coming out of a turn to find himself on the tail of two German planes chasing Gimbel.


GIMBEL, F/O Edward Lester, DFC (J15890) - Mention in Despatches - No.403 Squadron
Award effective 14 January 1944 as per London Gazette of that date &
AFRO 874/44 dated 21 April 1944.

Halliday's notes: The Mention in Despatches is almost certainly related to his successful evasion. Public Record Office WO 208/3314 has the MI.9 report based on interview of 12 August 1943 (the day after his return to Britain):

I took off in a Spitfire aircraft from Kenley at 1340 hours on 4 April 1943 to rendezvous [with] bombers over Rouen at about 1415 hours.

On the way I was attacked by an enemy fighter which I engaged. Immediately several other enemy planes closed in on me. My plane was hit and the controls shot away.

I came down in an open field somewhere just north of Pavilly (Northwest Europe 1:250,000, Sheet 4). On the way down I noticed my own plane, and a German fighter which I had shot down, burning on the ground. I then fainted and do not remember any more until I came to on the ground and saw people running towards me.

I speak only a few words of French, but I gathered that these people wanted to take me into the nearest village. Not knowing if they were trustworthy I refused to go, and set off by myself across country, hiding my parachute in a bush. As I walked I took off my Mae West, which I hid, and turned my battle dress inside out. After transferring the contents of my aids box into my pockets, I buried the box. I found I had been wounded in the leg and left ear.

After walking for about three-quarters of a mile I met two small boys. I asked them for help and they led me to their home, a farm house. Their mother washed and bandaged my wounds, gave me a clean shirt, and helped me to cut down my flying boots. I told them I intended making south, whereupon they informed me that there were no Germans in the immediate vicinity and told me the best road to take.

My idea was to skirt Rouen and make east so that I could cross the Seine, where I thought it would not be so wide. By mistake I got onto the main Dieppe-Rouen road and I could find no turning in an easterly direction. It was Sunday, and as there were many people on the road I felt very conspicuous, but no one took any notice of me.

In the evening I went into some woods west of Malaunay (Northwest Europe 1:250,000, Sheet 5) and slept.

I woke at dawn and set off again, still endeavoring to get east of Rouen. After I had gone about five miles I saw a small boy chopping wood. I went up to him and asked him if he could get me some food and a drink. He told me to hide in the woods while he went to find help. He returned after about ten minutes bringing with him some chocolate, coffee, bread and butter. A little later his elder brother arrived. He brought with him a French/English dictionary, which he gave me, told me to keep to the woods and fields, avoiding all roads, and also suggested where I should cross the Seine.

I walked across country all day, and when I came to a small village near La Fontaine, on the banks of the Seine, I decided to look for a boat or some other means of crossing the river. I saw a farmhouse nearby and went up to it to ask for food and help. The occupants gave me a meal, a civilian jacket and a pair of old overalls which I put on over my battle dress. They told me that they themselves could not help me, but that they knew of someone who could. A little later an old man and his son came to see me. They told me that they would row me across the river at dusk the next day. I went back to their cottage and spent that night (5 April) and all the next day with them. At about 1600 hours on 6 April they took me across the Seine and then left me. Before I went I had been given a packet of food.

I continued walking for some hours in a southerly direction and spent the night in a deserted barn somewhere in the Foret de Londe (Northwest Europe 1:150,000, Sheet 7). I got up at dawn, walked all day across fields and country roads, and slept that night (7 April) in a haystack in a barn somewhere southwest of Neubourg (Sheet 7). In the morning I was woken by a boy. He refused to help me, but gave me six raw eggs and told me to move on.

I walked all day keeping west of Conches (Sheet 7) and in the evening I stopped at Beaubrai (Sheet 7) and called at a farm. I asked the farmer and his wife if they would put me up for the night and give me a meal. I offered them money for this. They took me in and gave me some food, another set of civilian clothes, and offered me a bed.

Ed Gimbel & Hard Luck   The next day one of the farmer’s friends visited him. This man could speak only a very little English, but could both read and write it. He gave me a map of the district and told where to cross the Line of Demarcation. In the evening he took me to another farm house where I spent the night. On the morning of 10 April my new helpers put me on the road to Breteuil and then left me. They told me that there were no German troops in this town but that I should avoid Verneuil.

By the time I had passed through La Ferte Vidane (Sheet 7) it was getting dark, and I stopped at several farm houses, trying unsuccessfully to obtain shelter for the night. Finally a farmer agreed to let me sleep in a haystack in one of his barns. It had become apparent to me by this time that most farmers were friendly and willing to provide food and water, but that they did not care to offer shelter.

I got up at dawn and walked through the Foret de Senoches. While in this forest I met a French forester who advised me to get out of the woods as quickly as I could, as much of it was patrolled by Germans. When I was out of the forest I continued walking south again. A little later I approached a man in the road and asked for help. He took me with him to his house and from this point my journey was arranged for me.

Captain Gimbel after he transferred to the USAAF


Victories Include :

17 Aug 1942
6 Sep 1942
9 Oct 1942
10 Nov 1942
17 Jan 1943
27 Feb 1943
4 Apr 1943
20 Dec 1943

16 April 1945
1.5 FW190
one FW190
1/2 FW190
1/2 FW190
one FW190
one FW190
one FW190
one FW190

four u/i e/a
probable [a]
destroyed [b]
destroyed [c]
destroyed [d]

destroyed [e]


5 / 1.5 / 1

All with the RCAF

At least  4 / 0 / 0  On The Ground with the USAAF

[a] One shared with H. A. Westhaver
[b] Shared with G. B. Murray
[c] Shared with S/L Keith Hodson
[d] By collision near Rouen. He baled out & evaded
[e] He was then hit by ground fire & captured

(serial numbers from Aces High, 2nd edition)


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On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research which includes info from numerous sources; newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC); the Google News Archives; the London Gazette Archives and other sources both published and private.

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