180030 Flt Lieutenant R Gray

Discussion in 'General' started by Dmoody, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. Dmoody

    Dmoody Member

    I have been looking for information on my great uncle Robert Gray, from Ballymena, Co Antrim. He was in D squadron glider pilot regiment and flew from Shepherds Grove on 24th March 45, Operation Varsity. I have never had a great deal of information on him other that he was listed as missing presumed dead on that date. Having recently read the book, Wot no engines, it suggests that he survived a crash landing in Hamminkeln, was taken prisoner and later shot in early April. This would mean the date of his given by CWGC was incorrect. Could anyone point me in the right direction to try to build his story. I would love to know the chalk number of his glider that day and details of those that were in it with him and also where it crashed.
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  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

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  3. Dmoody

    Dmoody Member

    I don't, I'll look that up now, thank you for that
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    It is really the best starting point as it is his official 'history', all the other questions you have and answers that will be found fit around his record. They are being turned around in about 2 -4 weeks at the moment.

  5. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Panel attached from Runnymede

    Flight Lieutenant
    Service No:
    Date of Death:
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    attd. 1 Wing The Glider Pilot Regiment, A.A.C.
    Panel Reference:
    Panel 265.
    Additional Information:
    Son of John and Mary Gray, of Ballymena, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland.
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  6. Dmoody

    Dmoody Member

    Thats good to know, i do have some details from letters and postcards but very limited, i will start with the official records and work from there
  7. Dmoody

    Dmoody Member

    Great to see the photo of the Runnymede panel, cheers for that. I would love to know the story of how he came to be missing and have no known grave, if the book is correct he was killed in the wesel area, i guess we will never really know but it is great to build up the information that my grandparents and his family never knew, just a shame they aren't around to find out for themselves
  8. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

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  9. Dmoody

    Dmoody Member

    Yeah I've been reading those posts about varsity for a long time, its those that sparked my interest to look further. Id be particularly interested in the details of his glider. My family was always of the impression that he had somehow crashed on route to the Rhine but the details in Alan Coopers book would suggest otherwise.
  10. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Hello Dmoody,

    There is a Flight Lieutenant Gray who gets a few mentions in the ORB of No. 1 Wing GPR on the Pegasus Archive for dates March 5th and 25th. Note that the March 25th entry is in reference to the lack of news concerning the fate of CN 302 and it's tug in the March 24th entry under "Failures".

    "5th March 1945
    Place: Shepherd's Grove
    4 R.A.F. Offrs. returned from Course at Oxford. F/O's Halley DFC and Gray promoted F/Lt. F/Lt. Halley to assume command of 21 Flight. F/Lt. Gray to command "Z" Flight. I.O. to Course at Wing H.Q."
    "25th March 1945
    Place: Shepherd's Grove
    0900 - Advance Party sent to new Station at Fairford.
    0930 - Chalk No.302 F/Lt. Gray safely landed on LZ with Tug."

    CN 302 of D Squadron was part of Serial B17 which provided 28 Horsas (CN 287- CN 314) to carry the men and equipment of the 53rd (WY) Light Regiment RA to LZ 'P' on Operation Varsity. I couldn't find any further information on F/Lt. Gray and in particular what occurred that led to his death after landing?

    Regards ...
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  11. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  12. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    I just assumed the GPR called their daily records Operational Record Books (ORB) but they have been known as War Diaries (WD). The Pegasus Archives only has from March 1st to April 1st for D Squadron. There may be a possibility your great uncle is mentioned in later entries - don't know? It would be under National Archives catalogue number WO 171/5129

    Check out the WD for the 53rd (WY) Airlanding Light Regiment RA by searching for "302" towards page bottom under Appx for a bit more info on the Pegasus Archive:

    53rd (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Airlanding Light Regiment, RA

    It claims both Glider pilots were wounded and the glider burnt up after a crash landing.


    Glider No Tac sign Type - 302 A3 Horsa II
    Occupants - L/Sjt Burrows, L/Bdr Newcombe, L/Bdr Williamson
    Map Ref Landing - 17205105
    Did it Crash - Yes
    Nose or Tail unloading - Neither owing to burning
    Eqpt - 75mm How, Jeep, Trlr
    Was eqpt written off - Yes. Burnt out in glider
    How far from intended area - 3000 x NW of "Bunty"
    Flak - Yes. Caused glider to nose-dive
    Remarks - 2 glider pilots wounded

    Regards ...
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  13. Dmoody

    Dmoody Member

    I will have a look for that in Pegasus archive and also national archive. The confusion I've always had is about the glider pilot regiment and the RAF pilots flying gliders. I will look through both RAF diaries and glider pilot regiment diaries to see what i can come up with.
  14. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    The Glider Pilot Regiment Society might be able to help with suggestions. One of their goals: "To assist family members of Glider Pilots understand what the role and activities of their relatives and the GPR through research and sharing of information."

    Glider Pilot Regiment Society

    I can't make sense of location coordinate "17205105" using various boxes in the Coordinate Translator. I thought it might be "rA" under the Nord de Guerre Zone, but that seems widely off. Bunty is given as "Copse 185484" under Intercomn in the WD and it seems to make sense. I'm not sure what the unit of measurement is in 3000 x NW of "Bunty" - yards or feet? Anyway this what I got for Bunty and I'll attach a plot for glider landings that someone graciously posted in another thread.


    Plot of Glider Landings-Op Varsity.jpg

    Regards ...
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  15. Dmoody

    Dmoody Member

    Excellent, if i don't get information from those sources i guess it isn't available, cheers for that
  16. Dmoody,

    Your post caught my eye because my dad (who was also an RAF Glider Pilot) was in the same serial, in CN305.

    Here's the same plot marked up with the position of CN302 according to the map reference given (red arrow). I hope this helps.
    Landing Position of CN302.jpg


    I agree the map references are a little confusing. Some are recorded as six digits and some as eight. The gridlines are labelled on the plot but are not very clear. I believe the reference to "3000" is distance in yards. Incidentally CN305 is recorded as having landed 3000 NW of Bunty although the corresponding map reference 18654835 given in the WD does not correspond with this location, but is within LZ-P. I believe what's happened is the map references for CNs 305 and 364 (the two gliders carrying the 25 pdrs) have been transposed. CN364 is recorded as having landed at MR 17355145, which is not a million miles from CN302.

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  17. Dmoody

    Dmoody Member

    All very interesting folks, where would i start looking for confirmation of his glider number and details of its landing?
  18. I found confirmation of my dad's glider number in his RAF casualty record. This was obtained from the Air Historical Branch:

    Air Historical Branch (RAF)
    Bentley Priory Building
    RAF Northolt
    West End Road
    Ruislip HA4 6NG
    020 8833 8162
    Email: ahb.raf@btconnect.com
    (correct as at January 2014)

    Suggest you make enquiries with them.

    Also have you searched online for any info about the occupants (named above in Cee's post #12) from the 53rd Worcestershire Yeomanry? That may give you some more information. Good luck.

  19. Dmoody

    Dmoody Member

    Too much info to take in so far, I'm searching the national archives documents mentioned above. Be prepared for more stupid questions.

    Reading previous posts on this subject i must admit i am really impressed at the amount of information that has been dug up.
  20. Dmoody

    Dmoody Member


    I am looking into that at the minute, i keep getting distracted by side stories and things that happened, very addictive i must admit


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