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Bill Gray

Bill Gray, affectionately known as "Wully" to his family and friends, was born in Burnbank, Scotland, 14 July 1923, arriving in Canada in the spring of 1931. He and his family settled in London, Ontario, as did those of his future wife Jean a year later.

 

Like his crew member Bill Demo, he hinted that he had lied about his age in order to enlist in the RCAF immediately following his grade 10 graduation. Like many servicemen upon their return, he talked very little about the death and destruction he witnessed, recounting instead the more humorous incidents from his basic training in western Canada and later from his infrequent leaves in England, the same stories the crew doubtless told and retold each other to keep their spirits up. The exception was "Operation Manna". Ironically, while this was the mission that was the most personally rewarding, it was also arguably the most dangerous as they were effectively unarmed throughout.

Following the war, Bill returned to London where he secured a job with the London Hosiery Mills remaining there for 27 years before they experienced financial difficulties, were sold and ultimately closed. After a brief but unsettling mid-life period of unemployment Bill found work with a hardware distributor where he remained until his retirement.

 

While his interest in aviation continued, it was limited to his passion for reading, attending annual air shows and Flight Crew reunions. He actually avoided flying after his discharge and on the few occasions in which it was unavoidable, it made him physically ill. Always active, Bill was a swimmer and lifetime fitness enthusiast.

Less than a year after his discharge and return to London, just as he had promised before he left, on 17 April 1946 he married Jean Taig. They had 2 sons – Scott, who after working and raising his own family in the Toronto area returned to London, and Richard who died at the age of 3 months. Throughout their long and happy marriage Bill and Jean were devoted to each other. After a brief but devastating illness, Jean died on the morning of their 51st wedding anniversary. Bill never fully recovered from her loss and followed a few years later.

Bil Gray
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Bill Gray peaking out
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BIll Gray, RCAF
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BIll Gray, RCAF
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Bad Penny. Crew gather for a game of baseball
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bad penny crew WW2
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