Lt Robert Hampton Hammy Gray FAA VC

Who Was The Last Navy Victoria Cross Winner?

Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray's final act, sinking the Amakusa, earned him the Victoria Cross.

Lt Robert Hampton Hammy Gray FAA VC

It is 75 years since the Royal Navy's last Victoria Cross winner.

During the Second World War, Canadian Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray was assigned to the Fleet Air Arm and a member of No. 1841 Squadron.

He was based on board HMS Formidable, which had joined the Royal Navy fleet in the Pacific Campaign and was involved in strikes on the Japanese mainland.

On the morning of 9 August 1945, Gray was asked to fly his corsair over Onagawa Wan, a bay off the East Coast of Japan where enemy shipping had been spotted, and seek targets.

He was instructed not to take any unnecessary risks as it was believed that the war with Japan would end soon and the Soviet Unit had attacked Japanese Forces that morning. 

On his missions Gray sighted five enemy ships in the harbour and attacked. 

Corsairs on the deck of HMS Formidable
Corsairs onboard the deck of HMS Formidabble off the coast of Japan. (Picture: Royal Navy)

Coming in as low as 50ft and leading the attack, Gray was shot at ferociously, causing one of his 500lb bombs to be blown away. 

The second however he hurled into the coastal defence ship Amakusa, which exploded in the engine room and detonated the magazine.

But as Gray’s Corsair passed over the enemy, it was engulfed in flames and corkscrewed into the sea.

From attacks against Hitler’s flagship Tirpitz in the Norwegian fjords to strikes against Japan, Robert Hampton Gray had "consistently shown a brilliant fighting spirit and most inspiring leadership".

His final act, sinking the Amakusa, earned him the Victoria Cross.

It was the final VC of 182 awarded in World War Two and to date, the last earned by the Fleet Air Arm and Royal Navy.

Cover Image: Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray received the final VC of the 182 awarded to the Royal Navy during World War Two. (picture: Royal Navy)