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In honour of our soldiers: James Walter Gibbons

By Samuel Cheng

Published 11:04 PST, Tue February 20, 2024


In a series of Richmond’s ‘poppy’ street signs in memory of our fallen soldiers, we share the story of Gibbons Drive.

Born on August 10, 1911 in Kelowna, BC, the Gibbons family relocated to Richmond in 1924, when James Gibbons was a young teenager. Having attended and graduated from the Richmond High School, Gibbons went on to have a rich and extensive resume under his belt.

Gibbons worked in a nursery as well as for his father for nearly a decade. The Gibbons family operated a well-known florist shop on No.5 Road in Richmond. At the time of his enlistment, Gibbons was in a joint venture with his brother, George Gibbons, before he was sent off to be stationed in various locations. Unlike many other soldiers prior in this series, Gibbons was married to Lorraine O’Donnell Champion with two kids.

December 13, 1941 marks the date in which Gibbons formally enlisted. He chose the Royal Canadian Air Force as his choice of service and was sent off to Edmonton, Alberta as his first stop. Afterwards, he was transferred to St. Hubert and then Toronto for training to become an air navigator. He flew off to England in the November of 1942 and was soon promoted to Pilot Officer in the following year. 

The tragedy struck during a night attack on Leipiz, Germany. Gibbons, along with four other crew members, was killed in a plane crash and one was taken as prison of war (POW). The crew members were initially buried at the Gohre Cemetery and were later on re-buried at the Berlin British Military Cemetery.

On February 4, 1949, the Richmond City Council decided to erect a street sign on Gibbons Drive in honor of our fallen soldier. Today, the road is located to the south of Westminster Hwy and to the east of No.1 Road.

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