Canada’s Last Victoria Cross

Canada’s Last Victoria Cross

Lt. (P) Robert Hampton Gray

Prepared & Presented by: Don MacNeil – Vintage Wings of Canada

Bust of Robert Gray
From School Boy to Warrior
  • Born in Trail, British Columbia Nov. 2, 1917;
  • Son of Wilhelmine and John Balfor Gray (Jeweller, Optometrist) – Nelson, B.C.
  • Older sister Phyllis and younger brother Jack
  • Educated at the University of Alberta and University of British Columbia – 3yrs;
Phyllis, Hammy, Mrs. Gray and Mr. Gray
Enlisting for Service
  • Enlisted on July 18, 1940 in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve;
  • Arrived in the UK, trained at HMS Raleigh
  • HMS Drake – volunteered for Fleet Air Arm (FAA);
  • January 1941 he started training at HMS St. Vincent
Gray in Uniform
Fleet Air Arm (FAA) Flight Training
  • No. 24 Elementary Flying Training School at Luton near London;
  • Trained on the Miles Magister aircraft;
  • No. 31 Service Training School in Kingston, Ontario
  • Qualified as a pilot for the British Fleet Air Arm in September, 1941;
Aircraft from the training school
Tragedy Strikes the Gray Family
  • Telegraphist Air Gunner (TAG) on Halifax bomber;
  • Hammy’s brother Jack is killed in action Feb. 27, 1942;
Hammy & Jack
Off to War
  • First assigned to the African theatre, flying Hawker Hurricanes for shore-based squadrons;
  • After two years in Africa, finally posted to a carrier, HMS Illustrious sister ship to Formidable and assigned to Sea Hurricane squadron 877 as 2nd in command;
  • Promoted to Lt. On Dec. 31st.
Sea Hurricane from Shuttleworth Collection
HMS Formidable
HMS Formidable
Tirpitz Attack – The Mission
The Tirpitz
Formidable’s Aircraft
The aircraft on the Formidable's deck
Formidable’s Aircrew
The Formidable's aircrew
Tirpitz Attack – The Target
Illustration of the Tirpitz
The Launch
Aircraft launching from the deck of HMS Formidable
En route to the Target

Corsairs of 1841 sqdn en route to Operation Goodwood I attack on the German Battleship Tirpitz, 22 August 1944

HMS Devonshire and HMS Trumpeter in view

Corsairs of 1841 squadron en route to Operation Goodwood I attack on the German Battleship Tirpitz, 22 August 1944 - HMS Devonshire and HMS Trumpeter in view
Results of the Attack

Mentioned in Dispatches (MID) August 29, 1944

Aerial photo of the attack - Mentioned in Dispatches (MID) August 29, 1944
The Pacific War
  • HMS Formidable joined the British Pacific Fleet April 1945;
  • In May 1945, Formidable was hit by a Japanese Kamikaze aircraft by a 500 lb bomb;
  • By July 1945, the carrier was involved in strikes on the Japanese mainland;
  • A hanger fire later destroyed 30 aircraft resulting in withdrawal to Sydney Australia for repairs;
  • During this period, Gray earned a DSC for aiding in sinking a Japanese destroyer in the area of Tokyo.
Pacific War Corsairs
Corsair Aircraft
August 9, 1945 – The Target

Matsushima Military Airfield, Honshu, Japan

Aerial photo of Matsushima Military Airfield, Honshu, Japan
Hammy’s Aug. 9th, 1945 Aircraft?

Corsair IV – Squadron #115 – Ser # KD658

Hammy's aircraft from Aug 9th, 1945
Vintage Wings Corsair
Replica of Lt. Gray's Corsair - Vintage Wings
Aug. 9 Ramrod Two
Gray's squadron formation
Aug. 9th Ramrod Two Route
Map with Gray's squadron route
August 9, 1945 – The Attack
Aerial photo with target locations and Gray's crash site marked
The Victoria Cross
  • Highest British Commonwealth military honour for valour in face of the enemy;
  • Created by Queen Victoria in 1856;
  • Awarded to 96 Canadians;
  • Hampton Gray’s is the last to be awarded to a Canadian.
The Victoria Cross
Japan Honours a Canadian Hero

Lt. Robert Hampton Gray Memorial Onagawa Bay, Island of Honshū, Japan

Lt. Robert Hampton Gray Memorial
Hammy Gray’s Honours
  • Victoria Cross
  • Distinguished Flying Cross
  • Mentioned in Dispatches
  • 1939-45 Star
  • Atlantic Star
  • Africa Star
  • Pacific Star
  • Defence Medal
  • Canadian Volunteer Medal & Clasp
  • War Medal
Gray's Medals and Honours
Why is this important today!
  • To honour those who bought the freedoms we enjoy today;
  • To not repeat the mistakes of the past;
  • Most of all to remember that Freedom isn’t Free
Research Credits
  • 1841 Squadron Survivors
  • Stu Soward – Author: Formidable Hero
  • Phil Markum – Lt. Hampton Gray Research
  • Bob Murray – CAM Volunteer
  • Chuck Rolf – Lt. Hampton Gray Research
  • National Archives Research Staff & Tim Dubé
  • Peter Lawson – Lt. Hampton Gray Research
Experience the
Experience the