Ronald James GRAY (1906-1945)

Life story written by Paul Beecroft




19TH JANUARY 1945 AGE 38


Ronald James GRAY was born in Reading on 8th August 1906. His parents were James GRAY and Edith Miriam WEST. They were married at the Parish Church in Pishill in Henley on 21st July 1903. They lived at the time at Hollandridge Farm in Pishill. At the time of their marriage James was 35 years old and his occupation was shown as a Draper.

By 1911 they had three children, Millicent Alice, then Ronald James and finally Ethel Mable. The census for that year shows the family living at ‘Seacourt’ Knowl Hill, Nr. Twyford. James’s occupation is now shown as a Pianoforte Tuner and Teacher of Music.

 By 1916, possibly earlier, the family are living at 3, Palmer Park Avenue, Reading. In May of that year James got his name and address in the newspaper having been summoned for riding his bicycle without lights. The newspaper does not state any fine.

James GRAY passed away in 1922 at the age of 54. He was buried in Reading Old Cemetery. Following his death things must have been difficult for the family and his mother Edith started a business from home and placed adverts in the local newspaper:

KNITTING! KNITTING!! KNITTING!!! – Mesdames Grey and Provins, specialists in machine-knit wear. Ladies 3-piece suits made to measure; children’s garments; men’s pullovers, etc. Prices moderate. – 3, Palmer Park Avenue, Reading.

As is often the case, very little if anything is known about the early lives of the men and women who gave their lives during the wars, and this applies to Ronald Gray.

He did however, like is father, get his name and address in the newspaper. In January, 1930, he was fined 15 shillings for riding a motorcycle without having a driving licence. This was not uncommon in those days.

Ronald followed his father’s occupation and became a Pianoforte Tuner. This is confirmed in the 1939 census that shows just Ronald and his mother remaining resident in the house in Palmer Park Avenue. Both of his sisters are now married and have left home. Ronald remains a single man.

Following the outbreak of WWII, at some point Ronald joined the Royal Air Force. Exactly when and where he served is unknown until 1945 when he is stationed at R.A.F. West Drayton as an Aircraftman 1st class and attached to 1 Signals Depot under Bomber Command.

On 31st October 1944, he was admitted to Hillingdon Hospital dangerously ill, suffering from a rectal fissure. Sadly he did not survive and died some 10 weeks later. His official cause of death was Crohn’s Disease.

 Ronald was buried in Reading Old Cemetery but the details of when his funeral took place are unknown.

On 2nd February 1945, a personal message from the family was printed in the Reading Standard:-

Mrs GRAY and DAUGHTERS wish to thank all kind friends for the messages of sympathy and kindness shown them in their great loss; also for the floral tributes sent.

3, Palmer Park Avenue, Reading.

The following year, 1946, on 18th January under the heading of ‘On Active Service’ the Reading Standard printed the following on behalf of the family:-

GRAY. – In loving memory of Ronald Gray, who died January 19th, 1945. – From his loving Mother and Sisters.

Division 14, Row K, Plot 10