Lt. Hampton Gray VC
Robert Hampton Gray was born in Trail, British Columbia, on 2nd November, 1917, the son of a Boer War Veteran.
Hampton Gray received his early education in a public school and high school in Nelson, B.C., and then spent a year at the University of Alberta in Edmonton followed by two years at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver where he received his Bachelor of Arts. In 1940 he joined the Navy, and was one of 13 who qualified as pilots in the Fleet Air Arm. In 1944 he was a lieutenant on HMS Formidable, where he took part in attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz in Alten Fjord.
For his brilliant work during the attack, he was Mentioned-in-Dispatches. In July 1945, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for aiding in the destruction of a destroyer in the Tokyo harbour.
On August 9th he led another attack against a Japanese Naval Base where he single-handedly sunk a second Japanese destroyer. During the attack his aircraft was hit and crashed into the ocean. Neither Lieutenant Gray nor his plane were ever found. He was posthumously awarded the VC. Hampton Gray was one of the last Canadians to die during the Second World War, and the last Canadian to be awarded the Victoria Cross.
Lieutenant Gray has no known grave as neither he nor his plane were ever found. His name is inscribed on the Sailor's Memorial in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Lieut. R.H. Gray, D.S.C., R.C.N.V.R., of Nelson, B.C., flew off the Aircraft Carrier, HMS Formidable on August 9th 1945, to lead an attack on Japanese shipping in Onagawa Wan (Bay) in the Island of Honshu, Mainland of Japan. At Onagawa Bay the fliers found below a number of Japanese ships and dived into attack. Furious fire was opened on the aircraft from army batteries on the ground and from warships in the Bay. Lieut. Gray selected for his target an enemy destroyer.
He swept in oblivious of the concentrated fire and made straight for his target. His aircraft was hit and hit again, but he kept on. As he came close to the destroyer his plane caught fire but he pressed to within 50 feet of the Japanese ship and let go his bombs. He scored at least one direct hit, possibly more. The destroyer sank almost immediately. Lieutenant Gray did not return. He had given his life at the very end of his fearless bombing run.
The London Gazette, 13th November 1945