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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. W J Gregory


William James Gregory was born in West Hartlepool on 23rd November 1913. He attended Lister Sealy School and after leaving worked for his father's building company as a plasterer. He played the drums in a dance band and his nickname 'Sticks' followed him throughout his RAF service.

He joined the RAFVR in April 1938 as an Airman u/t Observer and trained at 32 E&RFTS Greatham.
Called up on 1st September 1939, Gregory was posted to Prestwick in November to continue training and then to 9 BGS Penrhos for a final course. For a short time in May 1940 he was serving with 4 Continental Ferry Pool at Pengam Moor, Cardiff, ferrying aircraft to squadrons in France and the UK.

On 25th May he was posted to 29 Squadron at Debden. In the early hours of 18th August Gregory was flying with P/O RA Rhodes when they intercepted and shot down a He111 into the sea off Spurn Head.


Above: Gregory (left) with Braham


In June 1941 Gregory, now retrained as a Navigator Radar, teamed up with F/O JRD Braham. During the night of 23rd June they probably destroyed a He111, on 6th July they shot down a Ju88, on 12th September a He111, on the 28th they damaged a He111, on 19th October destroyed a Do17 and on the 24th another He111.

Gregory was awarded the DFM (gazetted 17th October 1941) and at the end of his operational tour in December 1941 he was posted to 51 OTU Cranfield as an instructor, as also was Braham.

Commissioned in January 1942, Gregory revisited 29 Squadron in early June 1942 with Braham and during the night of the 6th/7th they shot down a Do217 into the sea off Sandwich. Later in the month they rejoined the squadron, then at West Malling.

Gregory was awarded the DFC (gazetted 4th August 1942). He and Braham destroyed a Do217 during the night of 9th August, damaged a Do217 in daylight on 19th October and destroyed a Do217 at night on 3rd October.

In early January 1943 Braham was given command of 141 Squadron at Ford and Gregory went with him. During the night of 20th January they destroyed a Do217, on 14th June a Me110, on the 16th they damaged a Ju88 and on the 24th they destroyed another Me110.

Gregory was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 16th July 1943) and rested, taking a staff appointment at HQ ADGB.

In February 1944 he was posted to 2 Group to assist Braham in the work of night-interdiction. Whilst there they flew occasional sorties in Mosquitos of 613 Squadron. On 5th March they destroyed a He177 on a daylight intruder operation, on the 24th they shot down a Ju52 and a Ju W-34 south of Aalborg, on 4th April they destroyed a Bv131 over France and on the 13th a He111 and a Fw58 in a Mosquito of 305 Squadron.

On 12th May they went on an intruder flight to Denmark in a Mosquito of 107 Squadron and destroyed a Fw190 near Aalborg. On the way back, damaged and out of fuel, they crash-landed on the sea and were picked up by a Royal Navy trawler. The Fw190 was the team's last victory.

Gregory rejoined 141 Squadron at West Raynham as Squadron Navigation Officer on 18th July 1944 and on 9th September he was promoted to Acting Squadron Leader and made Station Navigation Officer.

He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 17th July 1945) and posted to HQ 12 Group in September.

Granted a Permanent Commission in 1947, Gregory held a number of appointments at home and overseas before his retirement on 1st June 1964 as a Wing Commander.

He then worked as an estate agent in Eastbourne.

Gregory died on 6th October 2001.


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