Ajax Veterans Street Dedication: Graywardine Lane
- Media Type:
- Street Name: Graywardine Lane
Name of Veteran: Raymond Gray Feb. 14, 1918-Apr. 21, 2011
Rank: Petty Officer Electrician
Ship Served: HMS Ajax
Date of Service on Ship: Feb. 19, 1938 to Jan. 13, 1944
Year of Visit/Dedication: n/a
Veteran or Family Visit: n/a
Veteran of the Battle of the River Plate: Yes
Died at Battle: No
Raymond Gray was born on February 14, 1918 in Northumberland, United Kingdom. He joined the Royal Navy at the age of seventeen on September 24, 1935. His first ship was HMS Cumberland which he served for a short time before joining the Ramilles and eventually the Ajax on February 19, 1938.
Raymond was quoted as saying, “I signed up to the Navy because I was sick of the ship yards. I wanted to travel, but I didn't expect the war to start. I had a good cruise around Bermuda and the Caribbean before the war began”.
By December 1939 the crew of the Ajax, now off the coast of Uruguay, found themselves involved in the Battle of the River Plate. It was the first naval battle of the War and was later celebrated around the world as a major victory. Raymond was a Petty Officer Electrician at the time.
After the Battle, in February 1940, Raymond briefly left the Ajax to receive specialized torpedo training. He returned to the ship and was involved in action in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was on October 12 of that same year when the Ajax joined the 7th Cruiser squadron in the escorting of troops across the Mediterranean.
Raymond’s brother Edwin also served in the Royal Navy during WW2 but was assigned to HMS Neptune. Both ships were on patrol in the Mediterranean in December 1941 when the Neptune entered a minefield. 764 men died and it became known as the most extensive naval disaster of the war. Raymond commented, “all my life I thought about what would have happened if he had come on to the Ajax. You feel guilty sometimes for surviving.”
Raymond received more torpedo training in 1942 and again returned to the Ajax. At that time, the ship was already developing a reputation as being very lucky after surviving several direct hits from missiles. He left HMS Ajax in January 1944, one of the last seventeen that served during the Battle of the River Plate.
Raymond was discharged from the Royal Navy in January, 1946. He began working in H.M. Prison Service, in which he served for thirty six years. Raymond died on April 21, 2011 at his home at the age of 93.
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