Oxford Mail:

SMILING at the camera next to a classmate, ambitious Oxford schoolboy Guy Gibson had already set his sights on becoming an RAF pilot.

About a decade before he secured a historic wartime victory, he could never have predicted he would become one of Bomber Command's most decorated officers and one of the most celebrated men of the Second World War.

Pictured here as a teenager during his four years at St Edward's in Summertown, also known as Teddies, he went on to lead the daring 'Dambusters' bombings and mark a crucial victory against the Nazis.

Oxford Mail:

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the raid today, the school has revealed it will run an exhibition dedicated to wing commander Gibson and several other war heroes who were former students.

The school's warden Stephen Jones said: "It is really quite extraordinary how many of the great names of aviation history attended St Edward’s.

"We are proud to announce a joint project with the North Wall Gallery – an exhibition of photographs and rare archive material celebrating the RAF, and bringing to life some of the exceptional individuals who have shaped its 100 years of history.

"It is fitting that we are celebrating Guy Gibson's achievements in an exhibition here in Oxford."

Oxford Mail:

The free exhibition will run at the arts centre, which is on the school's campus, from June 20 until July 17.

It will feature items including a letter Gibson sent to St Edward's during his service, modestly mentioning as a postscript that he had received the Victoria Cross award for gallantry.

Gibson was born in India before moving to Cornwall and London, and attended St Edward's from 1932-1936.

He became close to his housemaster Freddie Yorke, who is thought to have taken on the role of his guardian.

In the letter dated May 25, 1943, which has never before been publicised outside of the school, he wrote: "My Dear Warden,

"Very many thanks for your kind letter of congratulations.

"I would love to come back to see Teddy's some time but you know how it is.

"However if it is humanly possible I will make the 18th of June as I am looking forward to seeing you again.

"Please pass my best wishes to Freddie...and all the rest.

"P.S. was awarded V.C. yesterday."

It is unlikely he ever fulfilled his hope of visiting, however, as he continued service before dying in combat in September 1944.

The letter was sent the week after the Dambusters raid in Germany - also known as Operation Chastise - which took place overnight on May 16 and 17, 1943.

Oxford Mail:

Gibson was chosen to head the operation aged 24, leading 19 Lancaster bombers of 617 Squadron to bomb dams and flood the Ruhr valley.

The surprise attack had a devastating effect, and destroyed factories and coal mines vital to the Nazi war effort.

Although 53 British airmen lost their lives, it was still celebrated as a key triumph of the war effort.

The mission's success saw the Queen award Gibson the VC, the highest honour of the United Kingdom, at Buckingham Palace.

He later died in an aircraft crash in the Netherlands after a mission with the No. 5 Group in Bremen.

The cause of the crash is something of a mystery, but it has been claimed he was shot down by friendly fire.

St Edward's exhibition will also pay tribute to aviation pioneer Geoffrey De Havilland and RAF heroes Louis Strange, Adrian Warburton and Douglas Bader, who are all alumni, and will highlight the crucial wartime roles played by women.