Donald John Gray

    • Donald John Gray
    • RCE GVIR Badge
    • Donald John Gray

    We regret to advise of the death of Donald John Gray, peacefully, on 7 December 2015 at the Arborfield and District Health Care Centre in Arborfield MB at the age of 96 years. Don was a WW II Royal Canadian Engineer veteran of 2nd Battallion, Royal Canadian Engineers.

    Born in Keyes, MB, Don grew up mostly near Arborfield and worked in the logging and lumber industries for many years with his brothers. He and his brothers all enlisted in the army. Don was 22 when he joined the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Engineers and he served overseas for four years during World War II.

    After extensive training in Canada, Don embarked for England at Halifax on 23 August 1940. During the battalion's lengthy stay in the United Kingdom prior to D-Day, they were largely involved in the construction of the camps and infrastructure required for the Canadian Army in England. As well, they were heavily involved in improving and building infrastructure required for England's defence. Notable was the Dunsfold Airport that had to be significantly expanded to both help the defence as well as to support the war effort when it was taken to the continent.

    The 2nd Battalion embarked for France on 26 July 1944 and joined the battle in Northwest Europe when it assembled at Carpiquet, FR on 31 July. The battalion was initially involved in the reconstruction of the devastated Carpiquet Airport and the building of the by-pass road around the city of Caen. Supporting the Allied advance, their final challenge in France was the construction of the bridge over the Seine at Rouen. When this was completed by the end of September, the battalion moved rapidly into Antwerp, Belgium. Throughout the Allied advance, 2nd Battalion was heavily involved in the construction of large Bailey Bridges across many of the river obstacles in northern Europe.

    When Don returned home from the war he married, bought some farmland and farmed until the mid-1970s when he retired and moved into town.

    In recognition of his contributions to the war effort, Don received the Lieutenant Governor’s Military Service Recognition pin. He was also greatly honoured in March 2015 by the Government of France awarding him the National Order of the Legion of Honour at the rank of Knight in recognition of his contribution to the 1944 Battle of France.

    A funeral service will be held on 11 December 2015 at the Arborfield Community Hall with internment at the Jordan River Cemetery in Arborfield. {khMay2016}