Edward McLeod GRAY DFC
Known as Ted

Serial Number: NZ404998
RNZAF Trade: Pilot u/t, then Navigator
Date of Enlistment: 1st of December 1940
Rank Achieved: Acting Flight Lieutenant
Flying Hours: 481 hours
Operational Sorties: 36 ops

Date of Birth: Born on the 22nd of March 1920, in Cambridge (note: one source says he was born the same date in 1921)
Personal Details:
Ted was the son of Samuel Edward and Sybil Hunia Gray of Cambridge (later of Peel Street, Petone, Wellington). Ted was the older brother of another Cambridge airman, Roderick Walter Gray, who was also in the RNZAF, and also lost his life. They had another brother who was a POW.

Ted and his brothers had attended school at Cambridge Primary, and at one point he also attended school at Ngaire before returning to Cambridge Primary.

His secondary schooling was carried out at Hutt Valley High School, where he passed his University Entrance Exam. Subsequently Ted attended the Hutt Valley Memorial Technical College. At the time of his application for service in the RNZAF, on the 6th of February 1940, Ted had partially passed his Accountancy Professional training, and was employed as a clerk by the Post and Telegraph Department in Wellington.

He played rugby for the Hutt Football Club, and also tennis for the St Augustine's Church Tennis Club. Ted also enjoyed tramping and was a member of the Te Awara Tramping Club. He was a member of the Territorials from September 1938.

Service Details: Ted enlisted at RNZAF Station Levin for training at the Initial Training Wing on the 1st of December 1940. Soon after he commenced pilot training at No. 3 Elementary Flying Training School at RNZAF Station Harewood, Christchurch. Shortly into the course, Ted's training was terminated, and he was remustered to the trade of Air Observer on the 24th of March 1941.

On the 13th of April 1941 he returned to the ITW at Levin to undergo initial training in his new role. Then on the 18th of June 1941 he embarked for Canada. Ted trained with No. 6 Air Observer School at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, followed by a course at No. 3 Bombing and Gunnery School, McDonald, Manitoba. He was awarded his Air Observer's badge at McDonald on the 8th of November 1941, and was promoted to Sergeant.

Following a further course at No. 1 Advanced Navigation School at Rivers Manitoba, Ted concluded his Canadian training on the 5th of January 1942, and he received a commission, promoting him to the rank of Pilot Officer.

He embarked for Britain in February 1942, and arrived at No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth, on the 19th of February 1942. It was not till early April when he received his posting to No. 3 Air Observer's School at Bobbington, Worcestershire. Following this course he proceeded on the 12th of May 1942 to No. 11 OTU at Bassingbourn, Herts. From this station and its satellite at Steeple Morden, Ted completed his operational training on Vickers Wellingtons.

Ted finished OTU training in July 1942 and was posted to No. 156 Squadron who were based at Wyton, Huntingdonshire. With this squadron he flew from Wyton as navigator aboard Wellington bombers, and later the bigger Avro Lancasters, completing 35 ops over enemy territory. The targets included Cologne, Nuremberg, Hamburg, Duisberg, Dusseldorf, Munich, Stuttgart and Berlin (all in Germany); and also Turin and Spezia (in Italy); and St Nazaire and Lorient (in France).

On one occasion at the commencement of a raid on Aachen, Germany, his aircraft got into difficulties and he was forced to jump from it by parachute. He was uninjured. Ted was promoted on the 1st of October 1942 to Flying Officer, however previously he'd been granted an acting rack of Flight Lieutenant with effect from the 28th of September 1942.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on the 13th of May 1943. This was eight days after his death whilst serving on No 156 Pathfinder Force Squadron, RAF, and therefore the DFC was awarded posthumously. The citation for the DFC read as follows:

This officer has flown many operational sorties against targets in Germany, Italy and enemy occupied territory. At all times he has shown exceptional navigational ability. By his ability and devotion to duty Flight Lieutenant Gray has largely contributed to the many successes attained by his crew. In the early part of his operational tour this officer was forced to leave his aircraft by parachute and twice his aircraft has been damaged by anti-aircraft fire. Despite these trying experiences Flight Lieutenant Gray's enthusiasm for operational flying remains undiminished and he has continued to set an outstanding example of courage to the rest of the squadron.

Ted Gray was a member of the ‘Caterpillar Club', having bailed out successfully from an aircraft in an Irvine parachute.

Date of Death: 4th/5th of May 1943, aged 23
Details of Death:
Ted's Avro Lancaster III ED877 took off at 22:29hrs on the 4th of May 1943 from RAF Warboys, Huntingdonshire to make a raid on Dortmund, Germany (by 596 aircraft, 42 lost). The aircraft, which was from No 156 Squadron, was captained by Flt Lt A.G. Lang, DFC, RAF.

The Lancaster took two direct flak hits at 19,500 feet over the target. The aircraft dived steeply out of control and broke up. The captain and flight engineer were thrown clear at low altitude and parachuted to safety to become prisoners. The other five crew, including Ted, were killed. Ted was aged 23 when he died on the 5th of May 1943

Buried at: Those who were killed, including Ted, were buried in the Principal Cemetery at Dortmund, but were later re-interred at Reichswald Forest, 5km southwest of Kleve.

Connection with Cambridge: Ted was born and grew up in Cambridge, New Zealand

Sources: Details of this airman's death were sourced from the excellent volumes of 'For Your Tomorrow' by Errol Martyn. See more details on these highly recommended books here Other information has come from the Waikato Independent newspaper, local records, official RNZAF records and Colin Hanson's excellent book 'By Such Deeds' . See more here


Home Airmen Roll of Honour