Gray, Robert John (Bob)
No. PS/4916, 20th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers
Killed in action on Monday 14 February 1916 (aged 25)
Cambrin Churchyard Extension, France (Grave L1. 6C)
Bangor Grammar School
Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) War Memorial
Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) Book of Remembrance
Cooke Centenary Presbyterian Church Belfast
Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour
Robert John Gray was born on 9 April 1890 at 230 Woodstock Road, Belfast and he was the second son of Robert Maurice Gray and Elizabeth (Lizzie) M Gray (nee Pentland) who were married on 20 May 1886 in Rosemary Street Presbyterian Church Belfast. Robert Maurice Gray from May Street, Belfast was a son of James Gray, a manufacturer. Lizzie Pentland from Oxford Street, Belfast was a daughter of William Pentland, a horse dealer.
The Gray family lived in Cregagh, Belfast; at 79 Upper Euston Street, Belfast; at 230 Woodstock Road, Belfast; at 6 Castlereagh Avenue, Belfast and in Dundela Park, Belfast.
Robert Gray Senior worked as an auctioneer and valuer and he and Elizabeth had seven children:
William Pentland (born 3 March 1887 in Cregagh, Belfast)
Sarah Ann (born 22 June 1888 at 79 Upper Euston Street, Belfast)
Robert John (born 9 April 1890 at 230 Woodstock Road, Belfast)
Elizabeth (born 26 July 1892 at 230 Woodstock Road, Belfast)
Edith Maud (born 16 November 1893 at 230 Woodstock Road, Belfast)
Walter Hume (born 3 March 1897 at 6 Castlereagh Avenue, Belfast)
Helen Margaret (born 16 July 1898 at 6 Castlereagh Avenue, Belfast)
Subsequently the Gray family lived in Hamilton Road, Bangor; in Beach Road Whitehead and in Lindores, 291 Ormeau Road, Belfast.
Bob Gray was educated at Bangor Grammar School and in the Faculty of Medicine at Queen’s University Belfast (1907/1908) and he was a keen rugby player.
Before the Great War Bob Gray worked as an auctioneer’s assistant in his father’s business at 6 Royal Avenue, Belfast. His elder brother also operated an auctioneering business – Messrs W P Gray & McDowell, Belfast.
Corporal Bob Gray served with the 20th Battalion Royal Fusiliers (one of the Public Schools’ Battalions) and he was killed in action in France on 14 February 1916.
Major Hickley wrote to Bob’s parents and paid tribute to Bob’s ‘soldierly qualities’. He said that Bob had been killed by an enemy rifle grenade and that his death had been instantaneous. Two other soldiers were killed by the same grenade – ‘young Orr from Martello Terrace, Holywood and Sergeant Holmes’.
The ‘young Orr’ that Major Hickley was referring to was Burrell Orr.
Corporal Bob Gray was 25 when he died and he was buried in Cambrin Churchyard Extension, France. There is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:
CANNOT QUENCH LOVE
NEITHER CAN THE FLOODS
Corporal Bob Gray is commemorated on the Memorial Plaque in Bangor Grammar School; on the QUB War Memorial; in the QUB Book of Remembrance (Page 25); in Cooke Centenary Presbyterian Church Belfast and in the Belfast Book of Honour (Page 231).