Robert Hampton Gray was born in Trail, British Columbia, on November 2, 1917. His family later moved to Nelson, BC, where he received his early education. Following graduation, he attended the University of Alberta in Edmonton and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. In 1940, he enlisted as an Ordinary Seaman in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve and received training in Britain as part of a program to provide officer candidates to the Royal Navy. In January of 1941, he transferred to the Fleet Air Arm and qualified as a fighter pilot.

In August 1944, he joined No. 1841 Squadron on HMS Formidable under Lieutenant-Commander Richard Bigg-Wither. That same month, he was Mentioned-In-Dispatches for leading a successful strike against the German battleship Tirpitz in Norway.

Transferred to the Pacific theatre, he led an attack on the Japanese naval base Maisuru in July 1945 and sank a Japanese destroyer. For this and other actions against Japanese targets, Gray was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

On August 9, 1945, Gray led his wing into an attack on the heavily defended Japanese naval base at Onagawa Bay. Although under Read More
Robert Hampton Gray was born in Trail, British Columbia, on November 2, 1917. His family later moved to Nelson, BC, where he received his early education. Following graduation, he attended the University of Alberta in Edmonton and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. In 1940, he enlisted as an Ordinary Seaman in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve and received training in Britain as part of a program to provide officer candidates to the Royal Navy. In January of 1941, he transferred to the Fleet Air Arm and qualified as a fighter pilot.

In August 1944, he joined No. 1841 Squadron on HMS Formidable under Lieutenant-Commander Richard Bigg-Wither. That same month, he was Mentioned-In-Dispatches for leading a successful strike against the German battleship Tirpitz in Norway.

Transferred to the Pacific theatre, he led an attack on the Japanese naval base Maisuru in July 1945 and sank a Japanese destroyer. For this and other actions against Japanese targets, Gray was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

On August 9, 1945, Gray led his wing into an attack on the heavily defended Japanese naval base at Onagawa Bay. Although under fire from several Japanese warships in the harbour, he managed to release one of his bombs and destroyed the Ocean Escort Amakusu. As his plane flew away from the sinking Japanese warship, it suddenly burst into flames and crashed into the ocean. For his valour during this action, Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. He was the only member of the Royal Canadian Navy to receive this honour and the last recipient of the Victoria Cross during the Second World War. Six days after Gray’s death, the war against the Japanese Empire ended

© 2008, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Robert Hampton Gray was born in Trail, British Colombia, on November 2, 1917.

Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray, VC, DSC, RCNVR. The Naval Museum of Alberta is dedicated in his memory.

The Naval Museum of Alberta

© The Naval Museum of Alberta


Medals

Medals group of Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray, VC, DSC, RCNVR: Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Cross, 1939-1945 Star, Atlantic Star, Africa Star, Pacific Star, Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Bar, War Medal 1939-1945 (Mid Oak Leaf).

The Naval Museum of Alberta

© The Naval Museum of Alberta


The official citation accompanying the Victoria Cross posthumously awarded to Lt. Robert Hampton Gray on November 13, 1945

"For great valour in leading, from the aircraft carrier Formidable, an attack on a Japanese destroyer in Onagawa Wan, in the Japanese Island of Honshu, on August 9, 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. Although he was hit and his aircraft was in flames, he obtained at least one direct hit...

The Naval Museum of Alberta

© The Naval Museum of Alberta


Learning Objectives

  • Develop and understanding of the participation and role of Canada’s Navy in the World War II.
  • Examine the contributions, sacrifices and experiences of individuals who participated in naval events during World War II.
  • Identify the locations in which Canada’s Navy operated during World War II.
  • Evaluate the weapons and technology involved in the war at sea.

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans