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The Airmen's Stories - F/O H Morgan-Gray


Hugh Morgan-Gray joined the RAF on a short service commission in December 1937. He was posted to 7 FTS Peterborough on 5th March 1938 and joined 29 Squadron at Debden on 17th September. In early July 1940 Morgan-Gray was with 46 Squadron at Digby.

On 3rd September his aircraft was set alight by return fire from a Do17 over Rochford and he baled out, wounded. His Hurricane, P3063, crashed at Apton Hall Farm, Canewdon.



Still with 46, Morgan-Gray was killed on 22nd February 1941 when his Hurricane I R4190 flew into the ground near Asterby in Lincolnshire.

Also lost was Sgt. CE Hudson in Hurricane V7074 who was flying alongside him. It can only be assumed that there was nil visibility.

His brother Christopher Morgan-Gray writes:

My brother Hugh Morgan-Gray was known in the family as Peter, he was the son of Major Hugh Morgan-Gray RAMC and his wife Hilda May. He was born in London during 1919 after our father returned from service in East Africa during the First World War.

During the 1920s he went to Miss Toppenham’s Kindergarten in Hampstead and he also went, as was the fashion, to Sunday School. On returning one Sunday his father asked him what he had learned that day.

He said "The teacher told us about Saint George and the Dragon, she said that we all have a dragon to fight, you have a dragon father, and I have a dragon, and you will come with me father won’t you".

In 1939 they both went off to fight the dragon and Peter lost his battle.

In the 1920s Peter went to a private school in Harlow, Essex and his first job was with Union Cold Storage in London. This was only for a brief period until he could join the RAF and learn to fly, which he did at Debden in Gloster Gladiators. One of the pictures I carry in my head at this time is of father and Peter sitting in the floor in the sitting room at my fathers practice in Braunstone going through the flying take off drill "Switch on, switch off, do nothing twice".

Peter married Elizabeth Margaret Anna Massey of Brough, East Yorks, whose family were in shipping in Hull, and they had one daughter Jane Anne Morgan-Gray who Peter never saw.

Jane Anne married Gerald Forbes-Milne, a teacher in Windsor, and they have two sons, Jonothan and James. Jonothan served as a Trooper/Bandsman in the Blues and Royals, and after a period at Kneller Hall is now a Bandmaster, Warrant Officer 1st Class to The Coldstream Guards. James is a qualified doctor working as a Locum GP in South Wales.

Flying was always Peter’s main ambition and it is perhaps an epitaph for him too that he is buried near P/O John Magee of the RCAF who was killed three months before Peter. His poem "High Flight" found fame after the war.

When my father was a GP in Braunstone one of his patients was a butler for one of the local aristocracy, he later became butler to Lord Lytton at Knebworth. Peter used to visit him there, becoming friendly with Lord Lytton's son. When Peter was killed Lord Lytton wrote an epitaph "To Peter" which was published in Punch (below).



For 20 years you lived and laughed and played,
your glowing youth and all who knew you laid,
returning tribute at your winged feet
that danced so blithely down the golden street
where all are good companions in the sun.
You lived, and laughed, and played, and found it fun.

I was not with you on your last long flight,
through what tempestuous skies,
through what black night,
but I would wager all that you were gay,
and smiling as they pulled the chocks away.
You made your life a party to the end,
and even death must call you now his friend.





Morgan-Gray was 22 and is buried in Scopwick Church Burial Ground, Lincolnshire.



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