Today in aviation history – August 9, 1945

aviation history



Lieutenant Robert Hampton “Hammy” Gray is killed while attacking a Japanese destroyer. He is posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroism.

In the face of fire from shore batteries and heavy concentration of fire from some five warships, he pressed home his attack, flying very low in order to ensure success. Although he was wounded and his aircraft in flames he obtained at least one direct hit, sinking the destroyer. His aircraft crashed into the bay. Gray was one of the last Canadians to die during World War II, and was the last Canadian to be awarded the Victoria Cross. His VC is displayed at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. Gray’s act of bravery was so impressive that even his enemies honored him in 2006 in a memorial service for the brave Canadian pilot.

As Gray’s remains were never found, he was listed as missing in action and presumed dead. He is commemorated, with other Canadians who died or were buried at sea during the First and Second World Wars, at the Halifax Memorial in Point Pleasant Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia. A memorial to Gray also exists at Onagawa Wan, just metres away from where his plane crashed; this is the only memorial dedicated to a foreign soldier on Japanese soil.