Fundraising efforts continue to build a monument to Nelson’s Lt. Robert Hampton Gray on Vancouver Island.
Retired Navy Capt. Terry Milne, the project manager, says his group of navy veterans has collected just over $20,000 but must raise another $40,000 to finish the project, which would see a memorial installed at a newly designed entrance to the B.C. Aviation Museum, on the grounds of Victoria International Airport.
It’s expected to be unveiled on Aug. 9, the 75th anniversary of Gray’s death. His plane was shot down in Japan while leading an attack on naval ships. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
“So far we have not been able to muster any significant support from any large corporation or government agency,” Milne says. “The main support has come from former navy fliers and members of Hammy Gray’s family, with additional support from the Naval Association of Canada members and other individuals.”
Milne says they have applied to Veterans Affairs Canada for about $20,000 and should find out soon if they are successful. This month they are focusing on the Victoria business community.
The proposal calls for three vertical pillars standing on a large flat slab of polished grey granite. The outer pillars will be of polished black granite, standing almost seven feet (2.1 meters) tall.
“If we are not successful in doing so now at the 75th anniversary of Lt. Gray’s last battle and the ending of the Second World War, the story will surely fade away,” Milne says. “Who will there be with wartime memories and connections to carry the banner at the 100th anniversary?”
Gray has several other memorials in his honor, including one at Onagawa Bay, where his plane crashed. The monument was relocated after being toppled in the 2011 earthquake.
He is also recognized in the Gray Building in Nelson, Gray’s Peak in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, and a street in Fairview, among other places.
Tax-deductible donations can be made online at canadahelps.org/en/charities/Naval-Association-of-Canada-Endowment-Fund or by cheque to the NAC Endowment Fund, Box 42025, 2200 Oak Bay Ave., Victoria, V8R 6T4, payable to the association, with “Lt. Gray Project” on the memo line.
Donations of $5,000 or more will be recognized on the memorial.