Unveiling of the new Hampton Gray monument at Onagawa

New Hampton Gray monument unveiled in Japan

A new monument in Onagawa, Japan dedicated to Nelson’s Lt. Robert Hampton Gray was unveiled Friday, 17 months after an earthquake struck.



A new monument in Onagawa, Japan dedicated to Nelson’s Lt. Robert Hampton Gray was unveiled Friday, symbolizing in part the community’s strides since a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck 17 months ago.

Gray, a pilot, was shot down in Onagawa Bay during the final days of World War II — the last Canadian killed in action during that war. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

Townsfolk erected a monument in his honour in 1989 in Sakiyama Park, overlooking Gray’s final resting place. However, following last year’s earthquake, the cliff face cracked and eroded into the bay, knocking the monument over.

The granite cairn survived but the plaque went missing. A crane operator volunteered to move the cairn to a new site and a local stone mason offered to mount a new plaque, recreated by Canadian military experts.

The new monument still overlooks the bay, but from a small piece of land in front of the town’s hospital, near a new memorial to the victims of the tsunami. Its bronze plaque calls for the “peaceful repose of the souls of all those who died in battle.”

Attending the re-dedication ceremony were members of the Kanda family, instrumental in erecting the original marker; Onagawa mayor Yoshiaki Suda and many other town officials; plus representatives from the Canadian Defence Attache, Japan Ground Self-Defence Force, and Onagawa Lion’s Club.

Capt. Bruce (Skip) Walker conveyed greetings to Onagawa from Nelson mayor John Dooley, and to the Kanda family from Gray’s sister, Phyllis Gautschi.

In remarks printed in the official program, Walker said the ceremony was very special.

“It is more than a monument to a great Canadian,” he said. “It goes beyond the symbol of the friendship and bonds that have grown between Onagawa and the Embassy of Canada in Tokyo, with Nelson, with Canada.

“Today shows that Onagawa is recovering from the devastation of March 11, 2011 … We cannot forget the tragedy of March 11, like we cannot forget the events of World War II, but like then, with positive attitudes and strong will, we can overcome the loss, the destruction, and the tragedy and work together to build something stronger and better.”

Walker also quoted former mayor Suda Zenjiro who spoke at the original monument’s unveiling 23 years ago.

“We must not allow the recurrence of our sad experiences but we must learn from them,” Zenjiro said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two overdose deaths in Nelson over the weekend

Police warn that much of the current drug supply in the city may be dangerous

Leafs beat Nitehawks for 8th straight win

The win gives Nelson a provisional division lead

Castlegar march ensures missing, murdered aboriginal women not forgotten

About 60 people took part in the Valentine’s day memorial

Jenner scored 2 in debut as Leafs beat Thunder Cats

Nelson is on a seven-game winning streak

First presumptive case of coronavirus identified in the Interior Health region

The woman, in her 30s, travelled from Shanghai and lives in the interior

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

BC Ferries sailings filling up Family Day Monday

More than 20 sailings added between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for long weekend

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Most Read