Hector Gray

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Hector Bertram Gray
Born (1911-06-06)6 June 1911
Gillingham, Kent, England
Died 18 December 1943(1943-12-18) (aged 32)
Sham Shui Prison Camp
Buried at Stanley Military Cemetery
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Air Force
Rank Flight lieutenant
Service number 561238
44061
Unit British Army Aid Group
Battles/wars

Second World War

Awards George Cross
Air Force Medal

Hector Bertram Gray GC, AFM (6 June 1911 – 18 December 1943) was an officer of the Royal Air Force, and a member of the British Army Aid Group, who was posthumously awarded the George Cross for "most conspicuous gallantry" in resisting torture after the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong in 1941.[1]

Early life[edit]

Gray was born on 6 June 1911 in Gillingham, Kent the son of Lionel and Adela (née Duff) Gray, his father was a musician. Gray joined the Royal Air Force as an aircraft apprentice at RAF Halton.[2]

Long distance flight[edit]

In November 1938 Gray, then a Sergeant Pilot with the RAF Long Range Development Flight, was acting as a radio operator/mechanic in one of three Vickers Wellesley bombers that flew non-stop for two days from Ismailia, Egypt to Darwin, Australia (7,162 mi/11,525 km) setting a world distance record. The Wellesley's record remained unbroken until November 1945 but it remains the longest by a single engined aircraft. Gray was awarded the Air Force Medal for the flight.[3]

British Army Aid Group[edit]

Gray smuggled medicine into the prisoner of war camp to help the many seriously ill prisoners incarcerated there and was a conduit for news from the outside world. When the Japanese grew suspicious he was tortured and interrogated for six months but refused to divulge the names of fellow officers, such as Captain Douglas Ford of the Royal Scots, and Colonel Lanceray Arthur Newnham of the Middlesex Regiment. He was executed by firing squad, with fellow prisoners, on 18 December 1943 and buried in Stanley Military Cemetery in Hong Kong.[4] Notice of his award was published in the London Gazette on 19 April 1946.[5]

Honours and awards[edit]

  • 28 April 1939 Sergeant Hector Bertram Gray of the Royal Air Force Long Range Development Unit was awarded the Air Force Medal in recognition of services rendered to crews of two aircraft which flew from Ismailia to Port Darwin in November 1938 on world's long distance record flight.[3]
  • 19 April 1946 Flight Lieutenant Hector Bertram Gray AFM is posthumously awarded the George Cross "in recognition of most conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner".[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ GC Holders at www.rafweb.org
  2. ^ http://www.oldhaltonians.co.uk/pages/rememb/gall/gall.htm
  3. ^ a b "No. 34620". The London Gazette. 28 April 1939. p. 2830. 
  4. ^ CWGC: Hector Gray
  5. ^ George Cross Database Recipient at www.gc-database.co.uk
  6. ^ "No. 37538". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 April 1946. p. 1967.