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Lieutenant Robert Hampton "Hammy" Gray, VC, DSC

Many Canadians "Answered the Call" by serving in the Royal Navy (RN) Fleet Air Arm as aircrew during WWII. One Canadian who did so was Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray, from Nelson. BC. Known as "Hammy", Lt Gray joined the RN in 1940 and obtained his pilot wings in the Fleet Air Arm. He served in a Hurricane Squadron in Africa before being posted back to England where he took place in carrier strikes again the Nazi battleship Tirpitz in her well defended Norwegian fiord lair. He won the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for his actions in the attacks pressed against the Tirpitz, a threat to the allied sea lanes to beleagured Russia. He next joined the RN carrier HMS FORMIDABLE for operations with the British Pacific Fleet against Japan including the Japanese homeland islands. It was on a mission against Japanese Imperial Navy targets in Onagawa Bay on 9 August 1945, the same day that Nagasaki was bombed with the second atomic bomb, that Hammy led a formation of 8 Chance-Vought F4U Corsair carrier fighter-bombers in an attack that was to see him sink the Japanese warship Amakusa with a 500 lb bomb released from his aircraft. Although he sank his target, his aircraft was hit and on fire on the way into his attack run and he continued the attack rather than try to gain altitude to escape from his damaged aircraft. He crashed into the bay soon after his bomb drop and was killed earning a Victoria Cross...the last of WWII...and the eternal respect of his country and eventually of his former enemies who dedicated a memorial to him years afterward, the only one on Japanese soil dedicated to an allied serviceman.

Kamikaze attack damage to HMS FORMIDABLE
Corsairs preparing for launch from carrier Fleet Air Arm Corsair formation
Painting by aviation artist Don Connolly depicting the attack by Lt Gray on the Amakusa
Listen to a short audio vignette by radio personality Nick Vandergragt on the exploits of Lt Robert Hampton "Hammy" Gray


"Answering the Call" is the idea of CFRA Ottawa radio personality Nick Vandergragt. Nick believes that Canadians should hear the stories of the thousands of Canadian men and women who have served in our Navy, Army and Air Force as these are compelling parts of our national heritage.

For more information on the Canadian Naval Centennial visit:


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