The Dam­busters con­nec­tion and how Gib­son got his dog

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - YOUR LOCAL -

The house in Church Street that Tovil Work­ing Men’s Club oc­cu­pied was lived in af­ter­wards by Thomas Glad­stone Bin­cham, known as “Glad”.

Mr Bin­cham went on to be­come man­ager and di­rec­tor of South­ern Pa­per Stock in Straw Mill Hill, Tovil, a busi­ness that col­lected waste pa­per across Kent and turned it into brown wrap­ping pa­per.

Lester Lawrence de­scribed said: “He was a big man, full of pres­ence. He was a fine op­er­atic singer with a mar­vel­lous voice.”

In 1921, Glad Bin­cham founded the Tovil Scout Group in the shed in the gar­den of his Church Street house, mak­ing it the old­est troop in Maid­stone.

Mr Bin­cham went on to be­come Scout­mas­ter of the Loose Swiss Scouts and even­tu­ally In­ter­na­tional Com­mis­sioner for the Bri­tish Scout As­so­ci­a­tion. In 1957, he was awarded the Bronze Wolf Award for his ser­vices to Scout­ing dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

Lester Lawrence re­mem­bered go­ing on a camp with Glad Bin­cham and 30 other boys in 1936 – to Zell am See in Aus­tria. He re­called: “We went by ferry to Zee­brugge and then by train, stop­ping in Mu­nich on route. There were huge swastika flags hang­ing from all the build­ings. It was re­ally some­thing to see. Of course, we boys didn’t reg­is­ter the po­lit­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions.”

Later Bin­cham was to move to the large Eb­bor House in East Far­leigh, where he en­ter­tained the ser­vice­men posted nearby.

The RAF per­son­nel at West Malling Air­field had a stand­ing in­vi­ta­tion to at­tend Eb­bor House ev­ery Mon­day. One of those who called in fre­quently was Wing Com­man­der Guy Gib­son, who was later to lead the fa­mous Dam­busters raid.

In his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, En­emy Coast Ahead, Gib­son refers to the par­ties as “some of the hap­pi­est times of my life”.

It was also via Glad Bin­cham, that Wing Com­man­der Gib­son ob­tained, as a puppy, his fa­mous black labrador, which (with the moral codes that pre­vailed at the time) he named Nig­ger. The pup had been be­longed to Bin­cham’s niece Joan, but she didn’t have room to keep it.

The dog went on to be­come the of­fi­cial mas­cot of 617 Squadron. He was hit by a car and died on May 16, 1943, the day be­fore the Dam­busters raid.

In his beloved pet’s mem­ory, Wing Com­man­der Gib­son chose “Nig­ger” as the ra­dio codeword to re­port the suc­cess­ful breach of the Mohne Dam.

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