Nambu World: Lt. Robert Hampton “Hammy” Gray, VC
Lt. Robert Hampton (“Hammy”) Gray, V.C, D.F.C., R.C.N.V.R. (1917-1945), was the last Canadian soldier who was killed in action in World War II. The heroic manner of his death won him the last Victoria Cross awarded during the war. After a distinguished flying career in the European theatre, he transferred to the Pacific and flew from the British aircraft carrier the HMS Formidable. On August 9, 1945 he was part of an attack on some Japanese ships in Onagawa-wan, a bay on the northeast coast of Honshu, the main island of Japan. Although his plane was repeatedly hit by fire from the ships, he pressed home his attack and sank the target ship, fatally crashing his plane in the process.
A memorial to Lt. Gray was erected on a hillside park overlooking the bay in 1989. I went to visit it in July, 2007. The park is a long thin strip next to a narrow road on the side of a mountain. It has a couple of other memorials to peace and to the Showa 8 (1933) earthquake that damaged the area, as well as some playground equipment. The photo above shows the memorial at the time I visited in July, 2007. This is the view over the bay
Here is the wording of the plaques on the memorial:
To get to the memorial from Tokyo, take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Sendai. At Sendai, transfer to the Senseki line and get off at Ishinomaki. At Ishinomaki, transfer to the Ishinomaki line and get off at Onagawa. Take a cab from there. The fare will be about 1,000 yen (around $10). The correct name of the park where the memorial is located is Sakiyama Tenbo Koen (Sakiyama View Park). It is called this because its location gives it a good view of Mount Sakiyama on the other side of the bay (though the view would be nicer without the big quarry operation that is stripping the hillside over there).
The memorial is mentioned on this Japanese-language website: マリンパル女川ホームページ
There is a brief entry about Lt. Gray in The Canadian Encyclopedia. There is also a section about him in the book Great Canadian War Heroes: Victoria Cross Recipients of World War II by Tom Douglas (part of the “True Canadian Amazing Stories” series). You can also read more about him on the following websites:
Calgary's Naval Museum of Alberta, soon to be housed in The Military Museums complex, has a display about Lt. Gray.
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Last updated: October 7, 2007. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.