No.894 Harold Gray
Harold Gray was born at Geelong, Victoria to Francis Gray and Annie Maria Armstrong in 1891. He was one of seven children, all of which were born in Geelong.
His siblings were:
- Edith Annie
- Frances Lilly
- Emily Louisa
- Frederick William
- Flora Hilda
At the time of his enlistment his father had died, and his mother was living at Wentworth in New South Wales. Later in the war, she had moved to Sefton Park in Adelaide, South Australia.
Harold enlisted in the A.I.F. on the 5 February 1916 at Melbourne, Victoria as a Private and was alloted service number 1100. This was later changed to 894. He was allocated to the 39th Battalion, which was formed on 21 February 1916 at the Ballarat Showgrounds. It took its members mainly from the Western Districts of Victoria, and became part of the 10th Brigade of the 3rd Australian Division.
They embarked from Melbourne on 27 May 1916 per H.M.A.T., A11 "Ascanius", and arrived at Devonport in England on 18 July 1916. There they completed four months training, before moving to France in late November of that year. They entered the trenches of the Western Front on 9 December 1916, just as the terrible winter of 1916-17 was setting in.
Harold was wounded in the field on 9 January 1917, and was treated by the 10th Australian Field Ambulance, before being transferred to No.2 Casualty Clearing Station. He received gunshot wounds to his head, right leg and side. On the 12 January 1917, he was transferred to No 24 A. T., and then to the No. 8 Stationary Hospital at Wimereux.
On the 29 January he was transferred to No 1 Convalescent and Command Depot at Boulogne. He remained in Hospital there until 8 February 1917, when he was discharged and sent to Etaples. Then on the 03 March 1917, he was well enough to rejoin his Battalion.
The 39th Battalion fought at Messines in Belgium between 7 and 9 of June 1917, where it was subjected to a German Gas bombardment. That attack incapacitated about a third of the troops. On the first day of the battle, Harold was wounded for the second time. He was bayoneted in the right leg, and treated at the 9th Australian Field Ambulance, Casualty Clearing Station. He was then transferred to the St John’s Ambulance at Etaples, and from there he was invalided back to England and admitted to the Fulham Military Hospital. One month later Harold was transferred to the 3rd Auxillary Hospital at Dartford in England.
He was granted two weeks leave on the 13 July 1917 and then ordered to report to the Training Depot at Perham Downs on the 27 July 1917. After just one week he had a relapse, and was readmitted to the Fulham Military Hospital, where he remained until 7 August 1917. He was released on leave again with orders to report to Perham Downs on the 13 August 1917.
On 5 September 1917, Harold again sailed for France. After arriving at Rouelles he rejoined the 39th Battalion on the 18 September 1917, just before the Battle of Broodseinde on 4 October 1917. Harold was wounded on the first day of that engagement and received a gunshot wound to the stomach (3rd occasion). He was first treated by the No 2 C.C.S., and four days later he was transferred to A.T. 21. While at the 55th General Hospital at Boulogne, France, at 9.20 a.m. on 18 September 1917, Harold Gray died of pneumonia and the gunshot wound to his stomach at the age of 25 years. He was buried in the Wimereux Communal Cemetery, Boulogne, France.
A death notice was placed in the local press by his family:
“GRAY. Harold, the eldest son of the late Frank and Annie Gray (died of gunshot wounds received in France. Our Hero How we longed for his return Dearly loved, and sadly missed. - Inserted by his loving mother, sisters, and brothers.”
Werribee Shire Banner, 1 November 1917, p.2.
One of Harold’s brothers also enlisted in the A.I.F - No.2197, Private Frederick William Gray, who served with the 46th Battalion. William was also killed, "Missing in Action" in France, on 11 April 1917.
Medals and Entitlements:
- British War Medal - was issued
- Victory Medal - 31 March 1923
- Memorial Plaque - 18 December 1922
- Memorial Scroll & King’s Message - 20 March 1922
- Photo of Grave - 8 January 1922
His widowed mother was granted a pension of £2/12/3 per fortnight as from 24 December 1917, in addition to a pension of £2, already granted in respect of her other son Frederick William Gray.
Probate No 41266 was given at Melbourne on 3 April 1919 to his mother, Annie Marie Gray, of Wentworth, NSW. The Executor was Herbert Charles Padgett (Farmer), of Werribee South, Victoria.
• His name is on the Werribee Cenotaph as “GRAY H”
• His brother, Frederick William Gray is not listed on the Cenotaph.
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