John Shelton Gisborne 1906-1942

John Shelton Gisborne was born in 1906 in Nottingham, the son of John Charles Gisborne and Frances Ada Radford; he had two sisters, Dorothy, born 1902, and Winifred, born 1911.

He was educated at Grosvenor School and was subsequently employed in the offices of John Player and Sons.

He married Gwendoline Kate Ruscoe in Epsom 19th June 1937; their son John Alan Shelton was born October 1938. In 1939 the family were living on Waldeck Road, Carrington, Nottingham; by 1942 they were living on John’s Road, Radcliffe on Trent.

He enlisted as Lance Sgt Royal Artillery, 277 Battery, 68th (North Midland) Heavy Anti-Aircraft regiment Service no 1430699.

68th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment arrived at Port Said on 22 April 1941 and served under GHQ British Troops Egypt on arrival.  The regiment served under 12th Anti-Aircraft Brigade from October 1941 until it was captured at Tobruk on 20 June 1942.During the Battle of Gazala, beginning on 26 May, Rommel’s Axis forces quickly broke into the British position and began attacking the defensive ‘boxes’. After bitter fighting in the Gazala Line and the ‘Cauldron’, the Eighth Army was forced to retreat. The British hoped to defend Tobruk as in the previous siege, but this time the Axis forces reached it before the defences were ready.

The attack on Tobruk began on 20 June. After the preliminary air bombardment, Axis tanks made rapid progress through the perimeter defences. The 3.7-inch HAA guns had been deeply dug in for protection against dive-bombing, but a four-gun troop of 277 HAA Bty found themselves faced with action at short notice against Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks of 21st Panzer Division driving down the escarpment from ‘King’s Cross’ towards the harbour. The gunners stripped down the walls of their emplacements to permit low-angle fire and engaged the tanks with armour-piercing and high explosive rounds. Together with some South African field guns and medium guns the position held up a Panzer battalion for four hours and knocked out four tanks, but the outcome was inevitable and the AA positions were ‘overrun by swarms of enemy infantry’. Rommel himself referred to the ‘extraordinary tenacity’ of the strongpoint. Tobruk surrendered the following day, and around 33,000 Allied troops were captured, including 4 Anti-Aircraft Brigades.

John Gisborne was reported to be a Prisoner of War in August 1942.

The Nottingham Evening Post reported that the family had been informed that he had died in an Italian hospital of dysentery on 17th November 1942. However Army Form RH records that he died of Bacillary Dysentery in Tripoli, Libya on 18th November 1942. He is buried in Tripoli War Cemetery, Libya.