I never met Phil Gray in person.
I much enjoyed getting to know him online, and I’m pleased there are people around who knew him, and have spoken with him.
Phil Gray was on the email distribution list that I use to send out updates related to this website.
He enjoyed my website and quite some time back he suggested I write a post about door to door energy scams.
I followed up on his suggestion and a blog post that I wrote has become among the most visited pages at the Preserved Stories website.
Door to door energy scams
I’ve been thinking about Phil Gray recently after writing a post about a recent Etobicoke Guardian article which suggests you have reason to be wary if somebody with an impressive-looking ID badge turns up at your door offering to inspect your furnace.
Ghosts of Targets Past
Phil Gray is the author of Ghosts of Targets Past: The Lives and Losses of a Lancaster Crew in 1944-45. A blurb for the 2005 version of the book notes:
“Born in Scotland, Philip Gray was a journalist living in Canada, but in WW2 he found himself captain of the crew of a mighty Lanc, operating with 186 Squadron as the RAF took the war right into the heart of Germany. Both Gray and his crew felt they were in charge of the undisputed king of the skies, but danger lurked around every corner and on every mission. In an engaging yet frank style, Gray reveals the true relationships between himself and his team, and between the team members themselves. He also searches his own soul as he struggles to survive in love and war.”
Philip Gray passed away on October 16, 2013.
An online obituary about him includes the following details of his life:
- He was born [in 1922] in Ladybank, Fife, Scotland to Philip and Isabella Gray. He attended Kirkcaldy High School to 4th Year, where he was the Junior Sports Champion in 1936.
- Philip joined the RAF in 1942, and underwent training for close to a year at Falcon Field, Arizona, USA. Upon his return to the UK, he was posted to 186 Heavy Bomber Squadron, at Stradishall. He piloted Lancaster Bombers, and with “Lady Luck” by his side, flew in 16 bombing operations against the Third Reich.
- Philip was later posted to the 622 Squadron, Mildenhall, where his duties included dropping food to the people of The Netherlands under operation “Manna”, and flying back ex- POW’s from France to England. He married Lynn Melville, in 1952, in Dundee, Scotland. In 1971, they immigrated to New Zealand where Philip continued his aviation related career and community radio broadcasts. The loss of Lynn in 1982 hit him hard.
- He scripted a book “Ghosts of Targets Past” in New Zealand, and had it fine honed after he immigrated to Canada in 1990. He became a member of the Canadian Air and Space Museum in 2000, where he was very well respected.
- Philip accomplished ten annual visits to the Duxford Air Museum, UK, retailing hundreds of his books. Philip will be missed by his many friends, surviving cousins, neighbours, and especially Ivor “Blondie” Foster, (Plymouth, England) the last surviving crew member.
[End of excerpt]
The 1995 version of Ghosts of Targets Past is available at the Toronto Public Library. It’s an excellent first-hand account; I recommend it highly.
Although I didn’t have the opportunity to meet him in person, I’m pleased I got to know Phil Gray. He enjoyed visiting my website, and his suggestion that I write about door to door energy scams has resulted in a post that is among the site’s most visited pages. His feedback and observations were very helpful and encouraging.
If you as a site visitor have additional details about Phil Gray’s life, or know of others such as friends or neighbours who can share information, please contact me.