Thursday, 24 November 2016

In Memoriam - John H Gray


John, lecturing on 23/09/2016 in Zonnebeke-Passchendaele
for MMP1917 guides
It is with deep sadness I let you know that John H Gray passed away suddenly on 22 November.
He was 88 years old.
He was recently visiting the WW1 battlefields in France and Belgium on his own which went well and he greatly enjoyed it.
We have been together a couple of days in the Passchendaele area and he was lecturing about the New Zealand involvement in France and Belgium during WWI for the MMP1917 guides in Zonnebeke.
We have been in contact since, almost every week. last week almost every day. 
John was such a good friend but also a wise and talented man.
He had the special gift that he could explain complex matters in a way everyone could understand.
He learned me and many others a lot about WWI.
Also his books are outstanding and he will live further for many people including myself thru his books. His research about Nicholas VC and his story about the New Zealand involvement at Polderhoek Chateau is a reference used by many other authors and guides.
I feel so privileged and honoured to have known John but also grateful to call him a real Friend.
John H. Gray, CBE (Civ), OBE (Mil), ED, JP is a retired City Manager of Christchurch, New Zealand.

Born in 1928, he volunteered for the Territorial Force of the New Zealand Army as a private soldier in 1949, enlisting in the New Zealand Scottish Regiment RNZAC. Commissioned in 1951, he retired in the rank of Brigadier in 1974.

He was the senior national officer in the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (Kashmir) in 1963-1964, and from 1965 to 1968 commanded the 3rd Battalion, (Auckland (Countess of Ranfurly’s Own) and Northland), Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment.

Posts as deputy commander of the 1st Infantry Brigade Group, and of Field Force
Command followed, and finally he was Territorial Force Advisor to the Army General Staff, the most senior post open to an officer of that Force at the time.

He has a long-standing interest in New Zealand military history and has made a detailed study of the role of The New Zealand Division in World War I during battlefield visits since 1997.

John Gray is best known for his book, published in 2010; From the Uttermost Ends of the Earth: The New Zealand Division on the Western Front 1916-1918. A History and Guide to its Battlefields. He has also written Quid Non Pro Patria, a monograph on Sergeant H.J. Nicholas, VC, MM and the Great War section of Auckland Infantry .Tales of three campaigns - 12th (Nelson) Company NZEF and The Silent Division & Concerning One Man's War have also been edited by John H Gray.

John is a respected member of the Passchendaele Society, the New Zealand Military Historical Society, the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps Association and the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association.
But above all, he was a very good friend and his passing will leave a huge gap in the lives of his family and friends.