© 2009 454 & 459 RAAF Squadrons
454 RAAF Squadron Desert Air Force
Squadron Leader George Andrew Gray DFC
Service Number 402346
WO David "Grim" Armstrong WOP/AG, Sqdn Ldr George Gray - NAV, FO Noel "Dagwood" Lynch & Sqdn Ldr Vic Cashmore PILOT
The following excerpt from 'Alamein to the Alps' by Mark Lax
"The Quarry is Caught
The squadron was also tasked to support the subsequent attack and three aircraft were dispatched to Tobruk to take part in the raid. Squadron Leader George Gray10 was bombing leader at 454 and because of his experience in both bombing techniques and long range navigation, led the raid as a key member on Squadron Leader Vic Cashmore’s crew. He later described preparations for the attack:
We were sent with three other crews down to a strip near Tobruk [Bu Amud] to provide the leaders for a strike force of 15 South African Baltimores (of 15 Squadron) who were fitted to carry bombs. We were to lead them because we had trained most of the South African crews at the OTU at Shandur in Egypt. We went off in two boxes of nine to rendezvous with nine Spits to escort us and the rest of the strike force – 12 Marauders (24 Sqn, SAAF) and 26 Beaufighters from 252 and 603 Squadrons (including rocket, escort and ‘suppression’ Beaus armed with cannon). The attack by the air striking force was to be two-pronged. First, the Baltimores
and Marauders were to bomb the merchant ships, with the Beaufighters coming in on a second wave to hit the merchants and escort vessels with rockets. Overhead, the Spitfires and Mustangs would deal with any Me-109s, Arados and Ju-88s thrown at them. In transit, one SAAF Baltimore and two Beaufighters returned early. At 18.57, the convoy was sighted about 27 miles north of Candia, flying eight barrage balloons and circled by German fighter escort. At 19.03 the Marauders went in followed two minutes later by the Baltimores. Located where it was, meant the convoy was at the very edge of the Baltimore’s range. Everything had to be perfect – timing, navigation and bombing accuracy – if the day was to be a success. George Gray continued… It was about 7 pm and still daylight when we attacked. We managed
to straddle a merchant ship and the South African Baltimores, another. The rocket Beaus had a go at the merchant ships and some of the rockets went straight through without damaging them significantly. I think about six Beaus were lost but a South African box shot down a 109. Interestingly the burning 109 passed right across my view through the bombsight as we were on the run in and caused a bit of a distraction. There was a lot of flak from the destroyers, but we were high enough to get away with it.
However, much of the bombing was inaccurate, with many of the Marauder and following Baltimore bombs missing their targets completely, although George Gray claimed at least one direct hit on Sabine. The second wave of rocket firing Beaufighters had more success. They severely damaged two merchant vessels, one destroyer and a smaller escort. In addition, a Me-109 and an Arado were destroyed, two Arados claimed as probably destroyed and a further damaged.
By the end of the strike, only two merchant vessels (both on fire) and one destroyer made it into Candia Harbour.
In all, 105 x 500 lb and 42 x 250 lb bombs were dropped. But the job was not finished and had to be completed. That night, nine 38 Squadron Wellingtons and eleven SAAF Liberators continued the assault, bombing Candia Harbour and docks, while losing one of the Wellingtons in the process. The results were unobserved."
The Rededication of the Memorial 'To the Fallen' at Richmond RAAF base., 50th Reunion - 1992
L-R: RAAF Padre, George Gray, Fred McKay (Clergyman), Pete Henderson, Pete Matthews, Hank Hayes,
Ken Rimmer & John McKenzie.
L-R; L-R; Sep Owen, George Gray, Bryan Rostron, Julie Parsons [daughter of the late Jim McHale - 459] & Julie's daughter Fiona, (?) & front - Julie's son Brett --
25/4/96 - Glenmore Hotel - The Rocks - Sydney - Australia
George Gray passed away on the 12th July 2005.
Our highly regarded Chairman of Associations 454-459 for nearly twenty years.
George was farewelled by relations, friends and associates in a packed chapel.
An RAAF Padre conducted the service and Air Commodore Mark Lax delivered the eulogy.
Our Association offered our sympathies to George’s wife, Joan and his family.
LEST WE FORGET
ANZAC DAY 2006 - Luncheon
L-R: Joan Gray wife of George Gray and their daughter Jill Lord
George A GRAY
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