Ross Gregory’s name may not be familiar to today’s cricket fans. But in 1937 he was thought to be the next big thing in Australia’s batting, scoring 23, 50 and 80 in his first (and only) three Test innings soon after he turned 21.
While he did not play on the 1938 tour of England, he would have been expected to play when international cricket resumed after the war. Unfortunately, he died in a wartime flying accident on June 10, 1942.
The official details of this incident are taken from an Australian military website:
We see that he was the observer on a RAF Wellington bomber of 215 squadron, which exploded in the air near Gafargaon. This was then in Mymensingh district of Bengal, not Assam as mentioned in some references. It was about 50 km from the Assam border at that time.
The crew of 6 included 4 Australians including the two pilots, plus 2 from the RAF. Pilot Officer Ross Gregory was the only officer aboard.
215 squadron was then known to be based in Pandaveswar (near Asansol) and engaged in bombing and supply dropping missions in Burma. Later this airfield was used by the US forces for bombing and transport missions.
A file picture of this model of aircraft:
This appears to have been an accident, as there is no mention of enemy action. This was well within India’s territory where Japanese fighters rarely came. Probably a load of bombs or other ordnance exploded in the air.
The location map of this region is given below:
The town of Gafargaon is slightly to the west of the centre. It is now the headquarters of Gafargaon upazila (sub-district) in Mymensingh district of Mymensingh division of Bangladesh.
While several Test players died in military action during World War 2, this appears to be the only such case in Asia. The best known casualties were Hedley Verity (in Italy) and Ken Farnes (flying accident in England).
As mentioned in the above military record, the location of the graves could not be found after the war and thus they are listed as “Missing with no known grave”.
Note: David Frith wrote a biography:
The Ross Gregory Story. Melbourne: Lothian Books. 2003. ISBN 0734405987.
It is currently available on Amazon co uk and other sites.