ABOVE and BELOW: A new monument to Nelson's Lt. Robert Hampton Gray now stands in Onagawa

UPDATED: New Hampton Gray monument erected

A monument in Onagawa, Japan to Nelson’s Lt. Robert Hampton Gray that toppled in last year’s earthquake and tsunami has been replaced.

A monument in Onagawa, Japan to Nelson’s Lt. Robert Hampton Gray that toppled in last year’s earthquake and tsunami has been replaced.

The new monument sits in front of the local hospital, overlooking Gray’s final resting place of Onagawa Bay. It’s also adjacent to the town’s memorial to those who perished in the tsunami.

Capt. Bruce (Skip) Walker, the Canadian Defence attaché in Japan, said the marker was completed this month and he’s arranging for a rededication ceremony tentatively scheduled for August 23 or 24.

He expects representatives from the Tokyo embassy, Japan ground and maritime self-defence forces, and UK and US Defence attachés to attend, “honouring this great Canadian.”

“Yes, this is short notice, and yes it is far away, but this is exceptional,” he wrote in an email.

Since the earthquake 16 months ago, Walker has worked closely with his friend and former shipmate, Dr. Richard H. Gimblett, acting director of navy history and heritage at National Defence headquarters.

“Between the two of us, we searched for various ways to remanufacture the plaque that fell off the memorial stone, was damaged and subsequently went missing,” Walker said.

Gimblett contacted Navy Capt. Don Smith, commanding officer of Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Breton in Esquimalt, whose experts recreated the plaque that now sits atop the original granite stone.

The new plaque was completed in early summer but only mounted this month.

Walker said some people might wonder why it took so long to re-establish the memorial, but he makes no apologies for the delay.

“I have repeatedly expressed to Onagawa that the priority must lie with recovery operations for the devastated townspeople before the memorial to Hammy,” he said.

The original monument was erected in 1989 at the urging of a local family in memory of Gray, a fighter pilot who died in Onagawa Bay during an aerial attack days before the end of World War II.

He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

“As members of Hampton Gray’s family, we are very pleased to hear of the reconstruction of the monument,” said his niece, Anne George.

The town of Onagawa, devasted by the 2011 quake, approved funds in its budget last December to re-establish the marker in a new location. The old monument stood at Sakayama Park, which is now sloughing badly.

In recent years, several student delegations have come to Nelson from Onagawa. Following the earthquake, Nelson area residents also raised $40,000 in relief funds, although its ultimate disposition hasn’t been decided.

 

 

 

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

Just Posted

New seniors care facility in Nelson to be built at Mount St. Francis site

Mount St. Francis hasn’t been in use since 2005

UPDATED: Interior Health to add 495 long-term seniors care beds

Nelson, Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon and Penticton to receive new facilities

MP Morrison pushes for accountability following federal fiscal update

Kootenay-Columbia parliamentarian says it is time to restart the economy

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Haitian foster children arrive in Nelson after months-long lobbying effort

Marie-Paule Brisson and Sebastien De Marre have parented girls age 12 and 8 since they were babies

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

New comet appears in pre-dawn sky above Cranbrook

Neowise can be seen without a telescope over the next couple of weeks

Most Read