In Memoriam: Roland M. Gray

Memorial Street Signs


In observance of every Memorial Day, Hampton Veterans of Foreign Wars gave the supreme sacrifice in defense of their country, in WORLD WAR II, KOREA and VIETNAM and streets, bridges, parks & playgrounds in Hampton, were named in their honor.

Roland M. Gray
Roland M. Gray -- GRAY AVENUE

Gray Avenue
In Memory of Roland M. Gray -- World War II
[Photo courtesy John Hirtle, Atlantic News]

[The following excerpt is from the Memorial Day Ceremony given at the
Hampton Academy Jr. High School on May 29, 1998,
produced and directed by Sheila Nudd, Music Director.]

4. ROLAND M. GRAY, offered by Josie Eiras:

"Roland Gray was born in Woolrich, Maine, on June 22, 1923. In 1940, he moved to Hampton and attended Hampton Academy. Roland like hunting, football, baseball, fishing, and performing in the school plays. He graduated from Hampton Academy; in 1941, and attended Wentworth Institute in Boston. He was the first of his class to go to war. He received his training in Camp Hale, Colorado in a ski troop. Later he was transferred to the Army Air Corps. In 1944, he went overseas serving in England, France, Germany, and Belgium as a member of the 84th Division, 33rd Infantry. He was killed in action in Belgium on December 24, 1944. He was survived by his parents, and his sister."

[GRAY AVENUE is named in his honor.]

Memorial Service Held Sunday For Pfc. Roland M. Gray

Hampton Union, Thursday, February 22, 1945

Pfc. Roland M. Gray

A pre-burial memorial service for Pfc. Roland M. Gray, USA, was held Sunday afternoon, Feb. 18, at the Methodist church, with the pastor, Rev. Harold Keir, officiating.

William Elliot was the soloist, accompanied by Mrs. Robert 0. E. Elliot. Members of the choir sang.

There were delegations from the American Legion Post 35, American Legion Auxiliary and Kiwanis Club as well as several Hampton Academy and High School classmates of the deceased.

As part of the pastor's commendatory remarks, he told of a letter the deceased soldier wrote in which he simply, yet sincerely confessed his faith. He had expressed a desire for membership in the church just one week prior to his death on a Belgium battlefront.

Following the prayer and concluding hymn, "A Hymn For Thou In Service," Cpl. Roland L. DuBois, trumpeter, of Fort Langdon, Portsmouth Harbor Defenses, sounded Taps.

Among those who attended the rites were many from out of town, including Mr. and Mrs. Chester Sherman and son, Sidney Sherman and Maurice Gray of Southport, Me., Charles Gray, Edgecomb, Me., Mr. and Mrs. Henry Gray and daughter of Chelmsford, Mass., Mrs. Carolyn Zolkos and Mrs. Sally Battles, Pelham, N.H., Mr. and Mrs. C. Johnson, Newton Center, Mass., and Miss Louise Mesick, dean of Simmons College, Boston, Mass.

Pfc. Gray was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney W. Gray of Winnacunnet Road, who have received the Purple Heart, posthumously for him.

In Tribute

Roland M. Gray

June 22, 1923 - December 24, 1944

By Portia M. LaTourette

Hampton Union, Thursday, March 1, 1945

When on the way to the Memorial Service held recently for Pfc. Roland Gray, USA, I noticed the Honor Roll with its gold stars, and flag at half mast, my thoughts rolled back to June, 1941.

That year, Hampton Academy and High School had in its graduating class of about 20, nine young men -- nine very fine young men.

The speakers at their Baccalaureate Sermon and Alumni Banquet had strongly emphasized that their class was "a war class ... definitely a war class ..." To many listening their ideas were vague and remote.

Pearl Harbor occurred less than six months later. Then, the words of those speakers assumed a new meaning for the parents who recalled the occasion. The words "war class . . . definitely a war class . . ." seemed ominous. The young men of that class, among others, began to appear in "khaki," or "the blue."

Today, three and one half years later, we're facing the realization that of the Academy classes graduated during the war years (from June, 1941 on) Roland Gray, a graduate of that first war class -- is the first to make the supreme sacrifice. His name adds a sacred glory to the roll call of the Class of 1941 and the Town Honor Roll.

The question is asked: "Why does it (war) always seem to take the best?" Who am I to answer? But we do know that God is no respecter of persons.

And we learned further at the Memorial Service that Roland was reaching upward -- reaching for something higher than could be found in the everyday ordeals of war. Roland's expressed desire for the sustaining influence of church membership proved this.

But we wanted also to pay tribute to Roland's character, disposition and popularity. To his genuine friendliness. He was quiet, unassuming, modest. He had a manner, of patience and humility in his bearing. The goodness shone in his face and eyes. "Rolie" truly appreciated his home, family, and devoted parents. He appealed to young and old, alike -- rather a rare thing today.

His classmates at Hampton Academy presented a beautiful gift to Roland's parents, in memory of the friend they will miss so much.

Everyone who knew "Rolie" liked him! Need we say more?

Added tribute comes from "Bill" Elliot, who thoughtfully wrote the following poem for Mr. and Mrs. Gray upon learning of their great loss:

"Another Friend Has Passed Away"

By "Bill" Elliot

Another friend has passed away.
Another friend found home today.
Another ship at anchor lies
In that blue harbor in the skies.

A tired friend lay down to rest
Upon our gentle Saviour's breast,
His sleep is deep, but not for long,
He shall arise mid bursting song.

And when he wakes,with soul so fine
I His care and love shall compass thee,
No more life's burden's shall he know,
But joy and peace, no care's, no woe.

O ye who loved this friend the best,
O ye who knew his sweet caress,
Kneel down and speak with God today,
He'll bring thee peace if you but pray.

And so, Roland, Good Night, until we meet again.

[Note: The following letter, dated March 13, 1957, was received by William Holman, a member of the American Legion Post 35 of the Hampton's, regarding the naming of streets, parks and bridges in memory of Hampton veterans killed in action during WWI, W.W.II, Korea and Vietnam. This letter was from Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Gray of Southport, Maine, concerning their son, Roland W. Gray of Hampton, killed December 24, 1944, and GRAY AVENUE was named for him. (Letter from the Legion Post 35 files.)]

March 13, 1957
Southport, Maine

William D. Holman
Hampton's Post No. 35
Hampton, N.H.

Dear Mr. Holman;

We both think it's a fine idea for the town of Hampton to name its new streets for service men that lost their lives in World War II. However, it was a surprise to us, as we had never heard about it before. We feel very pleased to know that Roland's name will be one of them.

Roland was born in Woolrich, Maine, June 22,1923.

While living in Southport, he attended the grammar school and high school for three years at Boothbay Harbor, Maine. We moved to Hampton in 1940. Roland attended Hampton Academy in his senior year and graduated in the class of 1941. After graduation, he entered Wentworth Institute Boston where he majored in Architectural Designing Construction and by voluntary induction, joined the Ski Troops at Camp Hale, Colorado. After a year, he asked for a transfer to the Army Air Corps and accordingly, was sent to Columbia University in Missouri where he studied and trained for six months.

This training resulted in reassignment to the Infantry in April 1944, when the personnel of this branch were reduced.

The next orders took him to Camp Van Dorn, Miss., where he trained in radio and communications until transferred to Camp Claiborne, La.

Intensive training and maneuvers made him think he would be shipped overseas at a very early date so he volunteered again for overseas duty, hoping to be in Europe. He was shipped out Sept. 1944. He served in England, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

In this country, he earned Medals for Expert Marksmanship with rifle, carbine and pistol and was given the Combat Infantryman badge in Germany.

On the morning he was killed, Dec. 24, 1945, he was manning a machine gun quite alone. We received the Purple Heart posthumously and Memorial services were held at the Methodist Church in Hampton, Feb. 18, 1945. He was buried in the American Cemetery in Belgium and in 1948, was brought back to Southport, Maine.

Most sincerely,

Mr. & Mrs. Sidney Gray
Southport, Maine