GRAY Ernest Philip 297176

LEST WE FORGET

Flight Lieutenant Ernest Philip Jeffrey GRAY

Service No: 297176
Born: Shanghai China, 17 December 1916
Enlisted in the RAAF: 18 December 1939 (at RAAF Station Pearce WA)
Unit: No. 355 Squadron (RAF), Salbani, India
Died: Air Operations: Victory in Burma (No. 355 Squadron Liberator aircraft EV902), Burma (Myanmar), 16 September 1944, Aged 27 Years
Buried: Taukkyan War Cemetery, Myanmar
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Charles Norman and Ellen Louise Gray; husband of Joan Mary Gray, of Elizabeth Bay, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Perth WA
Remembered: Panel 123, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

When flying at 11,000 feet in formation during a day bombing attack in Burma on 16 September 1944, Liberator EV902 collided with Liberator EW114 of No. 356 Squadron (RAF) and spun out of control and crashed killing seven crew members. EV902 crashed at 0323Z hours in position 23.34 North 095.09 East. The collision occurred in a formation of six aircraft when outward bound to bomb the Maymto railway station. EV902 was observed to be flying in the wrong position and was ordered to correct its position at 0323Z hours. The Rear Gunner of the Leader’s aircraft reported that EV902 had collided with EW114 cutting off the tail of EW114. EV902 then turned on its back and dived to the ground. Other gunners in the formation reported seeing two parachutes open from EV902 but none from EW114 which dived vertically, crashed, and all on board were killed.

The crew members of EV902 were:

Warrant Officer Bailes* (751298) (RAF) (Wireless Air Gunner) Baled Out, Survived
Pilot Officer Frederick Edward Blackman (179673) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant P H Dexter* (1539985) (RAF) (Air Gunner) Baled Out, Survived
Sergeant David John Drake (1897319) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flying Officer John Bernard Fitzgerald (J/25844) (RCAF) (Air Gunner)
Flight Lieutenant Ernest Phillip Jeffrey Gray (297176) (Pilot)
Sergeant Roy Kelsall (412011) (RAF) (Air Gunner)
Warrant Officer Arthur Green (985000) (RAFVR) (Second Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Leonard James Lewis (1582267) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Warrant Officer R W Stephens* (904677) (RAF) (Navigator Bomb Aimer) Baled out, Survived

* These three members are listed in the NAA Record but not in the CWGC record indicating that they were not lost with DV902. This is not consistent with the narrative (from Storr) which states that two parachutes were seen to open.

The crew members of EW114 were (taken from CWGC On-Line Records):

Flight Sergeant John Edward Carr (1394254) (RAFVR)
Flight Sergeant Raymond Henry Chapman (1615749) (RAFVR)
Flight Sergeant John James Collins (567123) (RAF)
Flight Sergeant William Henry Dobson (1804433) (RAFVR)
Warrant Officer Arthur Green (985000) (RAFVR)
Sergeant Charles Gilbert Griffiths (2209578) (RAFVR)
Flight Sergeant Douglas Desmond Holmes (1657031) (RAFVR)
Flight Sergeant Stanley Mason (1522509) (RAFVR)
Sergeant John Victor Vallin (1259967) (RAFVR)
Sergeant Peter George Waghorn (1850882) (RAFVR)
Flight Sergeant Alan Wilson (1126225) (RAFVR)

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/16/439