R.A.F. Pilot’s Award For Bravery
Pilot-officer Kenneth Neil Gray, of Christchurch, one of the two New Zealand pilot ofﬁcers who have been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, is well-known in Napier, and is a former pupil of the Napier Boys’ High School. His parents reside in Gisborne, and he has a twin brother, Colin, now also in the Royal Air Force, who for some time worked in a mercantile store in Napier.
Some weeks ago the exploit of a “Gisborne schoolmaster” was described in the news. It was stated that he performed an amazing feat of airmanship by ﬂying his plane back from a R.A.F. reconnaissance flight over North-Western Germany with most of the fabric torn from the wings by an explosion while the machine was ﬂying at an altitude of 2000ft. It now transpires that the pilot was Pilot-Ofﬁcer Gray, a son of Mr and Mrs R. L. Gray, of Gisborne, though he enlisted in Wanganui. When he took up aviation he severed his connection with the teaching profession.
Kenneth Gray is one of twins, his brother, Colin, more recently joined the Royal Air Force. The latter was with a mercantile ﬁrm in Napier and at one period earned some notoriety for daredevil motor-cycling. One Napier citizen who knew him well said that he belonged to that little fearsome band who are described as the “terror of the neighbourhood” because of the manner in which he raced his machine up and down the hills.
Both brothers have made good progress, Kenneth being drafted to the bomber squadron and Colin to the ﬁghter section. The twins held for a long time the ambition to become air pilots and secured their ﬁrst inspiration during one of the visits of the late Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith.
Pilot-Ofﬁcer Long, who was Pilot Ofﬁcer Grey’s navigator and who also was awarded the D.F.C., was educated at Wairarapa High School, Masterton, where he gained prominence on the ﬁeld of sport. As a lank lad of 6ft. 4in. he played a ﬁne forward game of Rugby and was captain of the first ﬁfteen. He also gained his cap for cricket, and represented his school at athletics and swimming as well.
In whatever form of sport he followed he showed a grim determination to win through, and his fearlessness was never better demonstrated than on the football ﬁeld. He left several years ago to enter the Royal Air Force, and letters received by his parents and friends indicate that he has made excellent progress although he actually says little about himself.