LCol Charles Train Gray, DSO, CD (Ret’d)
We regret to advise of the death of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Train Gray, DSO, CD (Ret'd) at home in Calgary on 18 July 2012 at the age of 93 years after a short illness.
Charlie enrolled in the Royal Military College in 1937 and graduated in 1939. Immediately following graduation, Lt Gray relocated to Calgary and joined 13th Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers. Shortly thereafter he was transferred to Montreal to join 4th Field Company which was being mobilized for overseas service with 1st Canadian Infantry Division. Lt Gray arrived in England in late December 1939 and spent the next three and a half years in the British Isles. In June 1943 he took part in the Sicily Landings. Over the next year and a half, Captain (and later Major) Gray commanded both 4th Field Company and 3rd Field Company. He took part in the Battles of the Moro River, Ortona, the Liri Valley, the Hitler Line, the Gothic Line and the Rivers of Savio, Lamone and Senio.
The Italian Campaign was complete by early 1945 and 1st Canadian Infantry Division reunited with the remainder of the First Canadian Army in the Netherlands for the final phase of the North-West Europe Campaign. Major Gray was awarded the DSO for his action on 11 April 1945 when 4th Canadian Field Company constructed a 360-foot floating Bailey Bridge across the Ijssel River under enemy artillery fire. His personal courage and steady direction inspired his men to their maximum effort and, as a result of his outstanding leadership, the bridge across the Ijssel River was established in record time. This, in turn, made it possible for the rapid advance of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division on Apeldoorn.
As one of the 'originals' having served overseas since 1939, Maj Gray was one of the first Canadians to redeploy back to Canada for demobilization. Following the war he returned to Kingston and received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Mining Engineering from Queen’s university in 1948. Eventually his civilian career took him back to Alberta and, in 1955, Major Gray rejoined the Canadian Army with the Militia in 8th Field Engineer Regiment where he commanded Edmonton’s 25th Field Squadron until 1957, served as the Regiment's Deputy Commanding Officer from 1958 to 1961 and commanded the Regiment from 1962 to 1966 upon his promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel. LCol Gray later returned to service with in 1991 when he was appointed as Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of Calgary’s 33rd Field Engineer Squadron - an appointment he held until 1995.
Charlie was active within the Military Engineer community right up to the last few years of his life. He was a proud member of the Sapper's Club and Veterans in Calgary and Edmonton, regularly attended military functions in both cities, was a member of the Military Engineers Association of Canada ,and he was in regular contact with both serving and retired sappers in Alberta.
A Funeral Service for LCol Gray will be held at Christ Church (3608 – 8 Street SW, Calgary) at 1400 hrs on Monday, 30 Jul 12. Reception to follow.
We are pleased to be able to re-print the eulogy read by LCol Eppo van Weelderen at his funeral on July 30, 2012. Please click here.