b. 06/06/1911 Gillingham. d. 18/12/1943 Sham Shui Prison Camp, Hong Kong.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 12/1941 - 18/12/1943 Hong Kong.
Hector Bertram “Dolly” Gray (1911-1943) was born on 6th June 1911 in Gillingham, Kent, one of eight children of Lionel Fitzroy and Adela Gray (nee Duff). There were two pairs of twins, Alexandra and Jane, and Donald and Zoe, plus brothers Andrew and Roy and a sister Brenda. His father was a viola player in the Royal Engineers band, and the family lived in Chatham, and it is presumed that the children were all educated there.
Hector enlisted with the RAF in January 1927 as an aircraft apprentice, based at RAF Halton. He trained first as a wireless operator mechanic, served for a time with the Fleet Air Arm then in 1936 was promoted to Sergeant Pilot and after five months flew with the 48 and 148 Squadrons until he was posted to Upper Heyford to the Long Range Development Unit where he was selected for the record attempt to Darwin, Australia as a wireless operator. He was awarded the Air Force Medal for this action.
On the outbreak of World War II, he was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on 1st April 1940, and was posted to 36 Squadron at Seletar, Singapore, and in October 1940, he was promoted and sent to Hong Kong’s Kai Tak airfield. Whilst there he was appointed the detachment’s signals officer as well as being a pilot. He was stationed with the army’s transmitters during the battle for the island, until they were forced to surrender on Christmas Day 1941.
While in captivity, he did everything he could to sustain the morale of his fellow prisoners. He smuggled much needed drugs into the camp and distributed them to those who were seriously ill, and he also ran a news service on information he received from people outside the camp. He was tortured repeatedly over a period of 6 months to make him divulge the names of his informants, but he disclosed nothing. He was executed by the Japanese on 18th December 1943.
He was buried in Stanley Military Cemetery, the grave initially marked by a simple wooden cross, until later replaced by a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone. He was posthumously awarded the GC on 19th April 1946, and the medal was presented by King George VI to his sister Zoe and brother Roy at Buckingham Palace. His medals including his GC and AFM are proudly held by the Gray family.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: STANLEY MILITARY CEMETERY, HONG KONG.
Picture - Kevin Brazier
St Clements Danes Church, Aldwych, London