Charles William (Tiny) Gray
From Our Contribution
|Date of Birth||9 Nov 1914|
|Place of Birth||Ravensthorpe, Western Australia|
|Age at Enlistment||26 years, 1 month|
|Description||5'10¾" (1.80m) tall ; ; fair complexion ; blue eyes ; fair hair ; small scar left forehead|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Address||Albany road, Kelmscott|
|Next of Kin||Father , Mr. Charles Herbert Gray|
|Date of Enlistment||18 Dec 1940|
|Unit/Formation||8 Platoon, B Company 2/4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion|
|1st Departure from Australia|
|Journey Dates||30 Dec 1941 ‒ 3 Jan 1942|
|Transport Details||SS Marella or HMAS Westralia Darwin to Port Moresby|
|Journey Dates||4 Jan 1942 ‒ 20 Jan 1942|
|Transport Details||HMT Aquitania Port Moresby to Sunda Straits via Sydney and Fremantle|
|Journey Dates||20 Jan 1942 ‒ 24 Jan 1942|
|Transport Details||unknown 2 small Dutch ships Sunda Straits to Singapore|
|Journey Dates||10 Aug 1942 ‒ 21 Sep 1942|
|Transport Details||SS Fukkai Maru Singapore to Pusan, Korea|
|Transport Details||USS Mercy Korea to Hong Kong|
|Transport Details||HMS Collosus Hong Kong to Manila|
|Transport Details||Consolidated PBY Catalina Manila - Darwin - Perth|
|Post War Details|
POW Singapore 1942 |
Returned to Australia
|External Monument(s)||The Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial Ballarat, Victoria|
1939-45 Star |
War Medal 1939-45
Australian Service Medal 1939-45
On 18 Dec 1940 Charles (known in the unit as Bill) enlisted in the 2nd AIF at Claremont and four days later he was allocated to the 2/4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion then forming at Northam Camp. As part of his training, from 30th March until 10 Apr 1941 Bill attended a Motor Transport course at Claremont. He was granted pre-embarkation leave from 1 to 11 Jul 1941 before embarking on 21 Jul 1941 aboard HMT Duntroon in Fremantle for Adelaide where the Western Australian members of the unit disembarked on 15 Jul 1941. On 11 Oct 1941 they entrained in Adelaide for the Northern Territory, arriving in Darwin on 20 Oct 1941.
On 30 Dec 1941 in Darwin the battalion embarked on either the SS Marella or the HMAS Westralia for Port Moresby where on 4 January 1942 HMT Aquitania sailed for Singapore via Port Moresby, Sydney, and Fremantle. This route was chosen to avoid Japanese forces that had recently attacked Rabaul, New Britain. When they reached the Sunda Straits, the men were transferred to two small Dutch vessels to complete the journey to Singapore. The battalion arrived in Singapore on 24 Jan 1942. There they joined the 8th Australian Infantry Division in defending the Western Area. On 15 Feb 1942 Charles and his colleagues were made Prisoners of War. On 8 Jun 1942 he was admitted to the 2/13th Australian General Hospital in Changi with Beri Beri. Following treatment he was released on 27 Jun 1942. On 29 Jul 1942 he was again hospitalised, this time with Dengue Fever, and was released after treatment on 3 Aug 1942. On 2 Aug 1942 it had been decided to promote Charles to Corporal in 8 Platoon, B Company as this had been recommended prior to the cessation of hostilities. His promotion was dated 24 Jan 1942. During his time in Singapore he had lived for a time in each of the camps: "Adam Park Camp - Singapore, Johore Bahru - Malaysia, Selarang Camp Changi.
Barely out of hospital, on 10 Aug 1942 he embarked as a member of J Party, only five of whom were members of the 2/4th MGB. They sailed from Singapore for Korea aboard SS Fukkai Maru, where they disembarked on 21 Sep 1942 at Pusan. His POW numbers in Korea seems to have been 331 in Keijo, and 271 in Konan. Enroute to Korea, the ship had sailed to Formosa where the POWs were put to work unloading another ship in the convoy, before resuming their travels to Keijo Camp in Korea. On 13 Sep 1943 Bill and two of his battalion mates were transferred to the Konan Camp on the north east coast of Korea.
On 21 Sep 1945 Charles was recovered from the Konan Camp when it was liberated by Russian troops. He was transported to Hong Kong aboard the USS Mercy where he was transferred to the HMS Collosus and he arrived at the 8th Australian POW Reception Camp in Manila, Philippines on 5 Oct 1945. On 13 Oct 1945 he was emplaned aboard Consolidated PBY Catalina aircraft A24-377 in Manila for Darwin, before continuing to Perth to join Western Command Recruit Reception & General Details Depot on 17 Oct 1945. Charles was discharged on 7 Jan 1946.
Newspaper entries: West Australian 11 Jul 1942 listed as Missing; West Australian 1 Dec 1942 now POW.
KOREA POW CAMP - WA Mother's Good News Hand-written Letter received Mrs CH Gray of Kelmscott, a member of the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion Women's Circle, has received a letter written in his own handwriting from her son, Cpl Charles William Gray, who is a prisoner of war at Keijo, Chosen (Korea). This letter, which his relatives say is in the same writing and style of those he sent before the fall of Singapore, has been encouraging to other members of the circle. In the letter Cpl Gray wrote : "There are a few West Australians in this camp, including Ted Roats (Albany), Bet Holland (Wagin), and Jack (Squizzy) Taylor (Queen's Park). We are living under pretty good conditions. The quarters themselves are clean and comfortable, having coal stoves to heat the rooms in winter. There are also ample washrooms and bath-houses, and we get two hot baths a week. We are out at work each day except Sunday, which is a day of rest on which we can do our washing and general repairs. Church services are held. We usually go to the evening service, thus helping us to keep in touch with things that are common to us all. Cigarettes are available three times a week through the canteen. The Red Cross parcels are indeed a godsend and are greatly appreciated by everyone. Most of the English chaps have just recently received letters from home, which were indeed very cheering to us here.
When we left Captain Bunning in Singapore, he was in the best of health and spirits: what a soldier he turned out! Next time you are in town go to see his people in case they have not heard. Now, Mum please don't worry about us as things are going to come right soon. I can always see your dear smiling face, which helps to cheer me on."
Corporal Gray, who was a member of "B" Coy, 2/4th Battalion, was taken prisoner when Singapore fell on February 15, 1942, and since then his mother has received a telegram from the Army stating he was a prisoner of war at Keijo; a cablegram from her son; a card from Singapore (before he was moved to Korea prior to November, 1942); a card from Korea; a letter typed on a card and signed by her son; a letter printed on a card by her son and last month the letter mentioned above.
For further detail see Colour Patch - The Men of the 2/4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion 1940- 1945 - Murray Ewen, Hesperian Press