The Victoria Cross is the highest award for acts of bravery in wartime. The award was created by Queen Victoria in 1856 and made retrospective to 1854 to cover the period of the Crimean War. The Victoria Cross bears the inscription “For Valour” and is cast from the metal of guns captured during the Crimean War 1854-56.
Robert Hampton Gray, Lieutenant RCNVR
[London Gazette Issue 37346 published on the 9 November 1945. Page 1 of 4]
The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS for valour to: the late Temporary Lieutenant Robert Hampton GRAY, R.C.N.V.R., for great valour in leading an attack on a Japanese destroyer in Onagawa Wan on 9th August, 1945. In the face of fire from shore batteries and a heavy concentration of fire from some five warships Lieutenant Gray pressed home his attack, flying very low in order to ensure success, and, although he was hit and his aircraft was in flames, he obtained at least one direct hit, sinking the destroyer. Lieutenant Gray has consistently shown a brilliant fighting spirit and most inspiring leadership
Thomas Gray, Sergeant Royal Airforce
[London Gazette Issue 34870 published on the 11 June 1940. Page 4 of 76]
“Flying Officer Garland was the pilot, and Sergeant Gray the observer, of the leading aircraft of a formation of five aircraft that attacked a bridge over the Albert Canal which had not been destroyed and was allowing the enemy to advance into Belgium. All the air crews of the squadron concerned volunteered for the operation and, after five crews had been selected by drawing lots, the attack was delivered at low altitude against this vital target. Orders were issued that this bridge was to be destroyed at all costs. As had been anticipated, exceptionally intense machine gun and anti-aircraft fire was encountered, and the bridge area was heavily protected by enemy fighters. In spite of this the formation successfully delivered a dive bombing attack from the lowest practicable altitude and British fighters in the vicinity reported that the target was obscured by the bombs bursting on it and in its vicinity. Only one aircraft returned from this mission out of the five concerned. The pilot of this aircraft reports that in addition to the extremely heavy antiaircraft fire, through which our aircraft dived to attack the objective, they were also attacked by a large number of enemy fighters after they had released their bombs on the target. Much of the success of this vital operation must be attributed to the formation leader Flying Officer Garland, and to the coolness and resource of Sergeant Gray, who navigated Flying Officer Garland's aircraft under most difficult conditions in such a manner that the whole formation was able successfully to attack the target in spite of subsequent heavy losses. Flying Officer Garland and Sergeant Gray unfortunately failed to return from the mission.”
[Commonwealth War Graves Commission]
- Sergeant Thomas GRAY Royal Airforce, service number 563627, number 12 Squadron
- Trade: Observer
- Died 12th May 1940 aged 26
- Son of Ernest Arthur and Susannah Mary Gray, of Odd Down, Bath, Somerset.
- Grave Reference: Coll. grave 6. F. 14-16. HEVERLEE WAR CEMETERY