As we paused last week to remember those Canadian service people I took the opportunity during Members Statements to recognize the heroism of Lt. Robert Hampton “Hammy” Gray.
Hammy was a Canadian Naval pilot who flew in the Royal Navy, his valour was recognized with the Victoria Cross and recently with a memorial at the British Columbia Aviation Museum at the Victoria International Airport.
This August I had the honour of attending the unveiling and dedication of a memorial at the British Columbia Aviation Museum, the Victoria airport. Last week, we paused to remember the courage and sacrifice of Canadian service people. I stand today to recognize one of those individuals who displayed incredible bravery and selflessness. Lieutenant Robert Hampton “Hammy” Gray is one of only two members of the Royal Navy’s fleet air arm to receive the Victoria Cross for his valour as a Canadian naval pilot.
Born in Trail B.C. in 1917, Hammy grew up in Nelson. After receiving his bachelor of arts from the University of British Columbia, he joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve. Lieutenant Gray received his pilot training in England and in Kingston, Ontario. Hammy flew the Hawker Hurricane in Africa before being stationed on the HMS Formidable where he flew the Corsair in both Norway and the Japanese theatre.
Lieutenant Gray’s Victoria Cross was awarded for “great valour in leading an attack on a Japanese destroyer in Onagawa, Japan on the 9th of August, 1945. In the face of fire from shore batteries and a heavy concentration of fire from 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, sinking the destroyer. Lieutenant Gray has consistently shown a brilliant fighting spirit and most inspiring leadership.”
Lieutenant Gray was a remarkable young man who did not return from war. He was one of the last Canadians to perish in World War II and the second last Canadian to be awarded the Victoria Cross. I encourage all British Columbians to visit the beautiful memorial at the British Columbia Aviation Museum, and I raise my hands to Terry Milne, Stan Brygadyr, Gerry Pash, Joe Buczkowski, museum president Dave Jackson, their volunteers, board of directors and donors for bringing this important project to fruition.