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Robert Gray Script

Robert Gray "Hammy"

SUMMARY

Robert Hampton Gray served for four years before seeing active combat in the Second World War, but his contribution to the Pacific campaign is a story for the ages. On August 9 - shortly after an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and only days before the end of the war - Gray and fellow airmen engaged a Japanese fleet in Onagawa Bay. Gray led the charge, taking heavy enemy fire while successfully hitting his target. His damaged Corsair sent him careening into the ocean, never to be found.

In letters to his parents in August 1945, Gray detailed much of his time fighting the Japanese. He was the last Canadian killed in action during the Second World War.

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PAGE ONE

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Norway 1944 HMS Formidable

HMS Formidable in the North Sea off the coast of Norway.

CAPTION: NORWAY. AUGUST 1944. HMS FORMIDABLE.

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A British Major sits interviewing Gray

An officer's office inside the HMS Formidable. A British Major sits, interviewing Gray.

BRITISH MAJOR: WELCOME TO 1841 SQUADRON, LIEUTENANT.

GRAY: GOOD TO BE HERE, SIR.

BRITISH MAJOR: GLAD TO FINALLY HAVE A NEW SENIOR PILOT AGAIN. TRAINING'S OVER, THIS IS THE REAL THING. YOU READY, SON?

GRAY: YES, SIR.

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A pilot and Gray getting into flight uniform

A pilot and Gray getting into flight uniform.

PILOT: WE LOST OUR FIRST TWO SENIOR PILOTS OVER THE PAST COUPLE MONTHS. HE DIDN'T TELL YOU THAT?

GRAY: NO.

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Close-up on Gray talking

Pilot laughs. Gray doesn't see the humour.

PILOT: ONE WAS SHOT DOWN AND THE OTHER CRASH LANDED IN NORWAY. BOTH NOW PRISONERS OF WAR. YOU STILL HAPPY TO BE HERE?

GRAY: FOUR YEARS IN THE SERVICE AND FINALLY COMBAT? YOU BET.

PILOT: LET'S SEE WHAT THE TIRPITZ HAS TO SAY ABOUT THAT.

GRAY: TIRPITZ?

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PAGE THREE

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German battleship Tirpitz

German battleship Tirpitz, a 42,500-ton vessel holed up in a Norwegian fjord.

CAPTION: BATTLESHIP TIRPITZ.

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Gray's flight of Corsairs heading towards the Norwegian coastline

Gray's flight of Corsairs heading towards the Norwegian coastline.

PILOT: THERE SHE IS. THE TIRPITZ. WE'VE BEEN AT HER A WHILE.

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Gray in his Corsair

Gray, in his Corsair, looks at the heavily armoured ship in the distance.

GRAY: LET'S GO SAY HELLO.

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PAGE FOUR

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Gray's Corsair leads his flight in a daring low-level strike

Gray's Corsair leads his flight in a daring low-level strike against ships protecting the Tirpitz.

GRAY: ONE PASS, BOYS.

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Gray's Corsair pulls out of the dive as he looks back to see that he's done little damage

Gray's Corsair pulls out of the dive as he looks back to see that he's done little damage.

GRAY: DAMN IT!

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A pilot in a Corsair that follows Gray's plane

A pilot in a Corsair that follows Gray's plane. In the background, a Barracuda dive-bomber is in flames and pulling away as another Barracuda presses in an attack against anti-aircraft fire.

PILOT: SIR, THE BARRACUDAS ARE GETTING IT GOOD.

GRAY: LET'S TRY TO DRAW SOME FIRE OFF THEM. CONVERGE ON THE AIRFIELD AT YOUR TWO O’CLOCK LOW. 3000 METERS DISTANT.

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PAGE FIVE

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A smoking Corsair has just landed on the carrier as on-deck personnel rush over to help

Corsairs limping back to the HMS Formidable. A smoking Corsair has just landed on the carrier as on-deck personnel rush over to help.

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Gray is taking off his flight suit

Inside the HMS Formidable: Gray is taking off his flight suit. He's disgusted. The same laughing pilot from earlier is with him.

GRAY: WE'RE GETTING NOWHERE! AT LEAST A DOZEN CORSAIRS DAMAGED AND NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT.

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Gray and the pilot walk down a narrow corridor

Gray and the pilot walk down a narrow corridor.

PILOT: NOT SO. YOU WERE MENTIONED IN DESPATCHES. LISTEN HERE.

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The pilot reads from a loose sheet of paper

The pilot reads from a loose sheet of paper. Gray pokes fun at what he hears.

PILOT: "...FOR HIS UNDAUNTED COURAGE, SKILL AND DETERMINATION IN CARRYING OUT DARING ATTACKS..."

GRAY: ... AND CARRYING MY WRECK OF A PLANE OUT OF THERE. BUT NOT BEFORE GETTING MY RUDDER SHOT OFF.

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PAGE SIX

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HMS Formidable in the Pacific, near Japan

HMS Formidable in the Pacific, near Japan.

CAPTION: North Pacific August 1945

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PAGE SEVEN

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Gray's Corsair in a dogfight with a Japanese Zero

Gray's Corsair in a dogfight with a Japanese Zero.

CAPTION: DEAR MOTHER AND FATHER. I'M IN THE PACIFIC NOW. IT'S BEAUTIFUL HERE.

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Kamikaze Zero incoming

A British destroyer's guns fire at an incoming Kamikaze. The flak is heavy but the Zero dives in straight and true.

CAPTION: I'M IN THE AIR MORE NOW THAN EVER. IT'S FAIRLY HARD FLYING, BUT NOT TO WORRY.

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Kamikaze Zero slams into the water close to the ship

Gray dives away from his plane that he has just landed on the HMS Formidable as a flaming Kamikaze Zero slams into the water too close to the ship.

CAPTION: THE JAPS ARE A GOOD ENEMY AND ARE KEEPING US BUSY, BUT I HOPE TO BE HOME SOON. LOVE, ROBERT.

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PAGE EIGHT

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Mushroom cloud from the atomic bomb

Early morning. A mushroom cloud from the atomic bomb that has just been dropped on Hiroshima.

CAPTION (TOP): AUGUST 6, 1945

Captain Ruck-Keene speaking

Captain Ruck-Keene speaking to squadron commanders in a space in the HMS Formidable.

RUCK-KEENE: PRESIDENT TRUMAN WANTS AN END TO THIS WAR AND WHAT YOU HEARD HAPPENED TODAY WAS A MEASURE TO SPEED THAT UP. I WANT ALL PILOTS TO AVOID TAKING RISKS. MINIMIZE FLIGHT HAZARDS AND TAKE ONLY ONE RUN AT ANY ONE TARGET. BRIEF EACH AND EVERY PILOT ON THIS PROCEDURE.

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PAGE NINE

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Gray is in the cockpit of his Vought Corsair

Gray is in the cockpit of his Vought Corsair, his plane's engine running, waiting to take off.

CAPTION: AUGUST 9, 1945

GRAY: COME ON FELLAS, LET'S GET 'ER TURNED AROUND.

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A crewman has climbed by his cockpit.

A crewman has climbed by his cockpit. The crewman slips the paper in to Gray.

CREWMAN: THERE'S BEEN A CHANGE, SIR. IF THE AIRFIELD HAS BEEN HIT, YOUR ALTERNATE TARGET IS ONAGAWA BAY.

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PAGE TEN

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Gray's two flights of eight Corsairs at 10,000 feet

Gray's two flights of eight Corsairs at 10,000 feet.

GRAY: ALTITUDE 10,000 FT.

Below, the airfield is already heavily damaged by bombs.

GRAY: LOOKS LIKE WE WERE BEAT TO THE PUNCH. CHANGING TARGET. LET'S TAKE THE SHIPS IN ONAGAWA BAY.

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Onagawa Bay, Japan

Below is the mainland coast north of Kinksan. Several major ships are moored in Onagawa Bay, including the ocean escort ship Amakuza, two minesweepers, a training ship, small submarine-chasers and shipping vessels.

CAPTION: ONAGAWA BAY, JAPAN

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The Corsairs race down the harbour valley to the harbour mouth

The Corsairs race down the harbour valley to the harbour mouth. With their inverted gull wings, they look lethal. A curtain of intense fire envelops the Corsairs. Anti-aircraft fire - cannon and machine gun - rains in from below from both the ships and the shore batteries.

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PAGE ELEVEN

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Gray levels his plane

Gray levels his plane and takes aim on the Amakuza which is anchored in the middle of the harbour, as a cone of fire zeroes in on him. The other Corsairs follow him in, every single one.

GRAY: I'M GOING IN.

YOUNG PILOT: WE'RE WITH YOU, SIR.

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Shrapnel strikes Gray's Corsair

Shrapnel strikes Gray's Corsair, knocking one of the 500 pound bombs away and setting his plane on fire. As he presses on, the flames stream behind him.

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Gray steadies his plane

Gray has managed to close within a very short distance of the ship as he steadies his plane.

GRAY: STEADY, GIRL, STEADY.

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Gray's hand activates the bomb release.

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The bomb is released from the Corsair

The bomb is released from the Corsair and is seemingly on target as machine-gun fire from the ship hits the Corsair's fuselage.

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PAGE TWELVE

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The bomb strikes down on the ship

The bomb skips over the water and lands a perfect strike amidship, below the after gun turret. An explosion rocks the ship (the ammunition locker has just exploded courtesy of the bomb), and blows out the starboard side of the ship. Overhead, Gray's Corsair, trailing flames and smoke, enters a roll.

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Gray in the cockpit fights to control his plane

In the cockpit, Gray fights to control his plane harder now.

GRAY: STAY WITH ME, GIRL.

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Gray's Cosair hits down into the water

Gray's burning plane turns slowly, rolling onto its back and plowing into the water as the Amakuza rolls and sinks.

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Gray's Corsair is in pieces in the water

Gray's Corsair is in pieces in the water as a Corsair from his flight passes overhead, the young pilot looking down in horror.

YOUNG PILOT: THERE GOES HAMMY.

CAPTION: DESPITE THE SHOCK OF LOSING THEIR LEADER AND THE ORDER TO MAKE ONLY ONE RUN AT EACH TARGET, THE REMAINING PILOTS CONDUCTED TWO MORE SUCCESSFUL ATTACKS ON THE TARGET SHIPS.

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Gray superimposed over the Cosairs returning from their mission

A shot of the Pacific and Corsairs returning from their mission, with Gray superimposed over it.

CAPTION (BOTTOM): LIEUTENANT ROBERT HAMPTON GRAY WAS ONE OF THE LAST CANADIANS TO DIE DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR. THIS WAS THE LAST CANADIAN VICTORIA CROSS ACTION.

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Credits

Director and Artist

Scott Henderson

Animator and Motion Designer

Aaron Scott Hildebrandt

Sound Designer, Recorder & Mixer

Scott Enns

Sound Supervisor

Scott Enns

Writer

Timo Puolitaipale

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