William GRAY (Bill) [NB: This interview was conducted by the Busselton Oral History Group at the request of US Researcher, Bill Streifer who is co-author of a book and web-site, The Flight of the Hog Wild, discussing the circumstances surrounding the Russians forcing the American B29 bomber Hog Wild, to crash-land at Konan, North Korea, after the Japanese surrendered in 1945. Bill Gray agreed to the interview which was made available for publication with permission from Bill Gray’s family.]
Bill Gray was born in Ravensthorpe in 1914. He moved to Busselton in 1998. He was a Corporal in the Western Australian Second Fourth Machine Gun Battalion which arrived in Singapore three weeks prior to the allies’ surrender in 1942. He and his mate ‘Squizzy’ Taylor were taken prisoner by the Japanese when Singapore fell and were in Changi Prisoner of War (POW) camp, then, on request, were transferred to Keijo, Korea to the Konan POW camp and were there when the Hog Wild came down.
Bill gives an account of his time in various POW camps, travelling to Konan, the downing of the Hog Wild and subsequent events. Bill talks of seeing three Russian fighters and a B29 overhead and heard gunfire. All the crew of the downed B29 survived and Bill recalls that within two days they were flown out and the POWs were on a train bound for Pusan where they faced the prospect of a sea voyage to America before going home. A British aircraft carrier came to the rescue and Bill boarded a Catalina for home via Morotai and Darwin to Crawley Bay. Bill’s brother Peter was a sailor onboard HMAS Perth when it was sunk in the Sundra Strait in 1942.
In 1945 Peter landed in Perth just after Bill touched down on Crawley Bay and Bill talks about the family reunion at their home in Kelmscott.