01.05.1940 102 Squadron Whitley V N1500 Fg Off. Gray DFC
Operation: Transit Flight
Date: 1st May 1940 (Wednesday)
Unit No: 102 Squadron 4 Group (motto: Tentate et Perficite - 'Attempt and achieve')
Type: Whitley V
Base: RAF Driffield - on detachment to RAF Kinloss, Morayshire
Location: Hill of Foundland, Insch, Aberdeen
Pilot: Fg Off. Kenneth Neil Gray DFC. 40342 RAF Age 25. Killed (1)
2nd Pilot: Sgt. John Hamilton Hopper 518878 RAF Age 23. Killed
Obs: Sgt. Frederick John Bass 580902 RAF Age 19. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: AC1. Alfred William Henry Hart 632176 RAF Age 19. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: AC2. George Main 632772 RAF Age 28. Injured (2)
AC1. Harold Buttery 650521 RAF Age 19. Killed
AC1. J.A. Hewitt RAF Age? Injured (3)
AC1. Fred Wallwork 743867 RAFVR Age 36. Injured (4)
REASON FOR LOSS:
The crew of Whitley V N1500 DY:? had successfully completed a night-time bombing raid on Fornebo Aerodrome, Oslo on the previous night flying Whitley V N1386 DY:P.
On the 1st May, the crew plus 3 passengers took off in Whitley N1500 on a positioning flight, returning to their home base at RAF Driffield in Yorkshire. Shortly after take-off the aircraft crashed due to adverse weather on the Hill of Foundland, 6 miles SE of Huntly, Aberdeenshire. Five airmen were killed outright in the crash while three survived, two dying later of their injuries.
Prior to forming his own crew a Flt Lt. Frank Long was trained by fellow New Zealander Fg Off. Kenneth Neil Gray 40342 RAF. He was awarded an immediate DFC along with Fg Off. Gray as on two occasions they skilfully managed to return their Whitley aircraft and crew despite severe icing and with one engine kept stopping they continued on their operation to Prague. The return trip totalled some eight hours. For further details on Flt Lt. Long - see his page of remembrance.
Bomber Command lost several of their most experienced pilots in this early stage of the war.
(1) Fg Off. Kenneth Gray was the twin brother of the top scoring New Zealand ace, Group Captain Colin Falkland Gray DSO. DFC and 2 bars 41844. (shown right) He survived the war, passed away on the 1st August 1995, age 80. Additional details can be read here.
(2) AC2. George Main was taken to Kingseat Naval Hospital in Aberdeen where he died of multiple burns on 25th May 1940, aged 28 years. died of injuries on the 25th May 1940.
(3) AC1. J.A. Hewitt had been in the rear turret suffered severe shock and a cut to his head. He was taken to the Cottage hospital at Insch. He recovered and it is understood that he survived the war.
(4) AC1. Fred Wallwork was badly burned and suffered a broken arm and died of injuries on the 6th May 1940.
Fg Off. Kenneth Neil Gray DFC. Dyce Old Churchyard. Grave 1. Born 9th November 1914 at Christchurch, the Son of Robert Leonard Gray and of Margaret Gray (née Langford), of Gisborne, Auckland, New Zealand.
A total of 712 flying hours logged and having completed some 7 operational sorties. There is no grave inscription for this New Zealand pilot and to understand why we suggest readers to take a look at 'Your Relative's CWGC Details Explained'.
The DFC was awarded to Pilot Officer Kenneth Neil GRAY (40342) and Pilot Officer Frank Hugh LONG (36190) on the 1st January 1940. London Gazette, 2nd January 1940.
Citation reads: 'Pilot Officer Gray and Pilot Officer Long were respectively Pilot and Navigator on a night reconnaissance flight over enemy territory during November, 1939. During the operations a snowstorm was encountered and the aircraft became badly iced-up, in addition to being subjected to anti-aircraft fire. Nevertheless the reconnaissance flight was continued but it was not found possible to reach the objective as eventually weather conditions rendered the aircraft practically impossible to control, the upper surface of one wing and half that of the other wing having been stripped of fabric and one "flap" jammed down. The wireless apparatus also failed. The journey home involved a flight of 342 miles over the sea during very heavy rainstorms and it was mainly due to the skill, courage and splendid team work of Pilot Officer GRAY and Pilot Officer LONG that the aircraft and crew were brought safely back'.
Sgt. John Hamilton Hopper. Doncaster Cemetery (Rose Hill) Section J. Grave 936. Son of Frederick John and Grace Marie Hopper, of Hornsea, England.
Sgt. Frederick John Bass. East Finchley Cemetery and St. Marylebone Crematorium. Section U5. Grave 68. Inscription: ‘I REMEMBER YOUR FACE AS WE LAST DID PART IT CASES THE ACHE WITHIN MY HEART’. Son of Frederick George and Ellen Mary Bass. of Muswell Hill, London, England.
AC1. Alfred William Henry Hart. Cockett Churchyard (St. Peter) Section SE.C. Grave 181. Son of Alfred George and Elsie Lilian Hart, of Richmond, Surrey, England.
Above: Left AC2. George Main and right the Family grave grave marks (Courtesy of Ian Lamberton)
AC2. George Main. Ayr Cemetery, Ayrshire. Section K. 1906. Grave 3901. He is buried in the family grave in Ayr Cemetery, Section K. 1906 Div. Grave 3901. Born on 31st December 1912 at Alloway Street, Ayr, Ayrshire. Son of James Main and Agnes (née McMurtrie) Main.
In his adolescent years he was a member of the 4th Ayr Company of the Boys’ Brigade. Before enlisting with the Royal Air Force, George worked in his uncle’s hairdressing and tobacconist shop in Burns Statue Square, Ayr.
Above: He is also remembered on the war memorial situated inside the church of Ayr St Andrew's in Park Circus, Ayr. (Courtesy of Ian Lamberton)
AC1. Harold Buttery. Dyce Old Churchyard. Grave 3. Inscription: 'TILL WE MEET AGAIN'. Son of Richard and Mary Ellen Buttery, of Coventry, England.
AC1. Fred Wallwork. Dyce Old Churchyard. Grave 2. Son of Fred and Martha Wallwork, of Manchester; England and husband of Jessie Wallwork.
Researched by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) and dedicated to relatives of the crew. With thanks to Simon Muggleton for some details, the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand (Jan 2019). Thanks to Ian Lamberton for the Next of Kin details and images extracted from the booklet "Remembered with Honour" at Ayr St Andrew's Church for AC2 George Main. (Jul 2023)
Other sources as quoted below: