William Adam Gray J88900

May 31, 1921 - September 27, 1944

William Adam Gray

439 Squadron

William Adam Gray was the only son of Thomas McNab Gray and his wife Elizabeth, of Toronto, Ontario. He was born on May 31, 1921.

He was a graduate of Vaughan Road Collegiate. He enjoyed hockey, handball, swimming and basketball. From 1938 to 1939, he went to Shaws Night School where he took Junior Accounting. He attended the University of Toronto, studying journalism and authorship in 1940-1941.

Gray worked as a checking clerk at Sandy Advertising Agency in Toronto and Canadian Kodak Co. in Mt. Dennis, Ontario as a billing clerk prior to his enlistment in October 1941.

He was assessed at the beginning of his BCATP training as a "good type, intelligent, good athletic record, deliberate and slow in talking, well mannered. Should prove adaptable to training."

At No. 6, ITS, March 11, 1942: "An average type of trainee, slightly self conscious, probably attributable to impediment in speech. Second aircrew recommendation: Wireless Operator, Air Gunner." He ranked 7 out of 16 in his class, with a 75% average. He took his elementary flying training at Goderich. He received his Wings at Uplands in December 1942 and went overseas a month later.

From Minute 1, signed by W/C G. E. Welsh, "Typhoon Aircraft PD458, piloted by P/O W.A. Gray left base at 14.40 hours on the 27th of September 1944 to dive-bomb enemy railroads in Germany. While carrying out an attack on a stationary train, southeast of Geldorn, Germany... an accompanying pilot noticed what appeared to be glycol vapour coming from the radiator of P/O Gray's aircraft. P/O Gray was informed of this over the R/T but he carried out another attack on the target, pulled up and proceeded to join the formation. Smoke was seen coming from the exhaust two or three minutes later and P/O Gray remarked over the R/T that his engine was failing. He was told to join the formation and return to base, and was given an emergency course which he took but appeared to lose altitude. At this time, the Squadron was crossing Goch, Germany, where it was met with intense flak. A few minutes later, P/O Gray's aircraft was seen to burst into flames, dive steeply, hit the ground and explode on impact. The crash occurred at approximately 15.40 hours on the 27th of September 1944, near Goch, Germany. P/O Gray was not seen to bale out and in view of this information was classified 'Missing Believed Killed in Action.'"

On October 17, 1944, Mrs. Gray received a letter from S/L K. J. Fiset, 439 Commanding Officer. He wrote, "The Squadron was detailed to carry out a dive-bombing mission over enemy territory. The target was successfully bombed and on returning to base, they located several strafing targets and began their attack. Considerable anti-aircraft fire was directed at the attacking aircraft and your son's aircraft was hit. The aircraft crashed into the ground and 'Nick' was not seen to get out...'Nick' had joined our Squadron a few months ago and was one of the most popular boys in it. With the experience behind him, he was rapidly becoming one of our "top-notch" pilots and losses such as his, cannot be replaced. Next to his family and friends, we in the Squadron feel his absence most."

In December 1948, Mr. Gray received a letter from W/C Gunn, RCAF Casualties Officer. He told Mr. Gray that P/O Gray's aircraft crashed two miles northwest of Kevelaer, which is seven miles sse of Goch and 4 miles from the Dutch border. His son's grave was located in the village cemetery and had since been reinterred in the Reichswald Forest British Military Cemetery.

LINKS:

  • Additional information on Gray from 439 Website
  • Additional photos and information on Virtual War Memorial