HALIFAX – The Royal Canadian Navy announced Monday that its sixth Arctic patrol vessel will be named after WWII hero Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray.
Young Gray, from Nelson, British Columbia, had volunteered for the Naval Reserve in 1940. A pilot in the British Royal Navy, he joined the crew of HMS Formidable during the war. in the Pacific in April 1945. He was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for his courage and determination in carrying out airstrikes against the Japanese destroyer Amakusa.
Almost 75 years ago to the day, on August 9, 1945, Lieutenant Gray led two squadrons of Corsair aircraft to carry out attacks in Onagawa Bay. He launched the offensive by rushing directly towards heavy anti-aircraft fire and was hit almost immediately.
“His aircraft caught fire and lost a bomb, but Lieutenant Gray continued his attack by dropping his other bomb on the escort ship Amakusa, which capsized and sank,” said the Navy. His aircraft sank in the waves and his body was never recovered. ” The aviator, who died at 28, was the only member of the Royal Canadian Navy to receive the Victoria Cross during the Second World War.
The Navy recently welcomed the first of six Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels ordered, HMCS Harry DeWolf, five years after work began at the Irving Shipyard. These ships are the first, since the 1950s, to be specially built for military operations in the Arctic.
The names of the six Harry-DeWolf-class patrol ships honor eminent naval figures “who have served Canada with the highest distinction.” The other five ships will be named Harry DeWolf, Margaret Brooke, Max Bernays, William Hall and Frederick Rolette. Lieutenant Rolette, originally from Quebec, was an officer in the Provincial Navy of Upper Canada; he had distinguished himself during the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain.
The Canadian Press