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The Airmen's Stories - P/O C K Gray


Clifford Kempson Gray was born on 8th September 1916 in Sunbury-on-Thames and after leaving school was employed as an electrical engineer.

He joined the RAFVR on 9th January 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot. He began his flying training at 5 E&RFTS Hanworth.

Called to full-time service in November, Gray was posted to No. 1 ITW Cambridge on the 10th, moving to 11 FTS Shawbury on 29th January 1940.



43 Squadron 1940

L to R: Sgt. JP Mills, P/O CK Gray, P/O CA Woods-Scawen, Sgt. GW Jefferys, Sgt. ALM Deller, F/Lt.RC Reynell


Gray was commissioned and went to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 6th July to convert to Hurricanes. He then joined 43 Squadron at Tangmere on 3rd August.

He damaged three He111's on 12th August, damaged a Do17 on the 13th, destroyed a Ju87 and probably another on the 16th and destroyed another Ju87 on the 18th.

Gray was shot down over Portsmouth on the 26th and baled out, wounded in the right arm. His Hurricane, P3202, crashed at Ratham Mill, Bosham.

On 8th September Gray crashed at Gedney Dyke, Lincolnshire after his engine seized during a ferry flight to Usworth.

Gray was posted to 73 Squadron at Castle Camps on 2nd November 1940. The squadron embarked on the carrier HMS Furious on the 10th, bound for the Middle East, and flew off to Takoradi on 29th November.

It then flew by easy stages to Heliopolis, via Lagos, Accra, Kano, Maidugari, Khartoum, Wadi Haifa and Abu Sueir. On arrival on 13th December Gray went to the Middle East Pool Ismailia.

After a bout of malaria he flew a Hurricane to Malta on 6th March 1941 and joined 261 Squadron at Ta Kali.

Gray was shot down on 6th May and baled out, wounded in the left thigh. He joined 185 Squadron when it was reformed at Hal Far on 12th May. He damaged two Mc200's on 11th July and was posted back to the UK at the end of the month.

He went to 61 OTU Heston on 1st September, moved to 56 OTU Sutton Bridge on 30th October and on 17th June 1942 he was attached to the 307th Pursuit Squadron USAF as a Liaison Officer.

On 30th August 1942 Gray was posted to 222 Squadron at Drem and stayed with it until February 1943, when he went to 61 OTU Rednal as an instructor.

He returned to operations on 12th December 1943, joining 124 Squadron at West Malling.

Awarded the DFC (gazetted 17th August 1945), Gray was with 124 until 3rd April 1946 when he was given command of 91 Squadron at Duxford.

In the post-war years he held a number of flying and staff appointments before his retirement on 1st August 1963 as a Wing Commander.

Gray died in February 1990 in Tunbridge Wells.



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