Gray, Thomas

Date of birth:
May 17th, 1914 (Urchfont/Wiltshire, Great Britain)
Date of death:
May 12th, 1940 (Lanaken/Limburg, Belgium)
Buried on:
Commonwealth War Cemetery Heverlee
Plot: F. Row: Coll. 6. Grave: 16-17.
Service number:
563627
Nationality:
British (1801-present, Kingdom)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Sergeant
Unit:
No. 12 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Awarded on:
June 11th, 1940
Action:
“Flying Officer Garland was the pilot and Sergeant Gray the observer of the leading aircraft of a formation of five aircraft that attacked a bridge over the Albert Canal which had not been destroyed and was allowing the enemy to advance into Belgium. All the aircrews of the squadron concerned volunteered for the operation and, after five crews had been selected by drawing lots, the attack was delivered at low altitude against this vital target. Orders were issued that this bridge was to be destroyed at all costs. As had been anticipated, exceptionally intense machine gun and anti-aircraft fire was encountered, and the bridge area was heavily protected by enemy fighters. In spite of this the formation successfully delivered a dive bombing attack from the lowest practicable altitude and British fighters in the vicinity reported that the target was obscured by the bombs bursting on it and in its vicinity. Only one aricraft returned from this mission out of the five concerned. The pilot of this aircraft reports that in addition to the extremely heavy anti-aircraft fire, through which our aircraft dived to attack the objective, they were also attacked by a large number of enemy fighters after they had released their bombs on the target. Much of the success of this vital operation must be attributed to the formation leader; Flying Officer Garland, and the coolness and resource of Sergeant Gray, who navigated Flying Office Garland’s aircraft under most difficult conditions in such a manner that the whole formation was able succesfully to attack the target in spite of subsequent heavy losses. Flying Officer Garland and Sergeant Gray unfortunately failed to return from the mission.”
Details:
London Gazette 11th June 1940.
Thomas Gray is buried at the Heverlee War Cemetery, near Louwain.
Name on RAF-memorial, St.Clement Dane's Church, London, Great Britain.
Victoria Cross (VC)

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