Brigadier ''Mike'' Wingate Gray, OBE, MC; born July 17, 1921, died

November 3, 1995

WITH the death of Mike Wingate Gray, the Black Watch has lost one of

its most gallant and illustrious members. He is equally mourned by the

SAS to which he gave such great service towards the end of his very full


He was born into a military family, educated at Wellington College,

and joined the Black Watch in 1941. He went with the Highland Division

to the desert and took part in all its battles from Alamein, through

North Africa, Sicily, and North West Europe. During that time he won the

Military Cross twice, firstly in Gerbini, in Sicily, where he charged a

German machine-gun post standing up in a carrier firing a bren gun from

his shoulder.

The second was on in October, 1944, at Dunkirk where he negotiated a

ceasefire between the British, German, and French to enable some 20,000

civilians and German wounded to be evacuated.

Apart from his proven gallantry he was a master linguist and could

speak Russian, French, and Germany fluently.

His service after the war continued with the Black Watch in Germany

and British Guyana, interspersed with staff jobs, one of which was on

the staff of Bernard Fergusson during the Suez crisis of 1956.

In 1963 he took the massed band of the Black Watch to tour the US.

Shortly after it played on the White House lawn, President Kennedy was

assassinated. His widow asked for Black Watch pipers to play at his


On return from America, he started his service with the SAS,

commanding the regiment from 1964 to 1967 with squadrons deployed in

Borneo, Aden, and Radfan. For this he was awarded the OBE. He concluded

his military career as military attache in Paris after a tour as the

deputy fortress commander of Gilbraltar.

He retired in 1973. Apart from being both physically and mentally

tough, Mike had enormous charm. He was never too serious and could

always see the light side of any crisis. The Jocks all adored him, they

knew his reputation and even the most awkward would respond to his


He led with style, totally unpompously, and by example. He loved a

party and alcohol appeared to have no effect on him. His enormous

popularity won him many friends from all walks of life.

After retirement, he dabbled in boat-building and for a time worked

for a security firm providing protection for VIPs. But his real passion

was sailing. For many years he kept a boat in the Mediterranean and he

knew all the best watering-holes around its rim.

He was a great supporter of everything to do with the Black Watch and

could always be seen at reunions and dinners. He took part in the 50th

anniversary VJ Day parade in London, albeit in a wheelchair. By then his

health was failing despite major heart surgery some years ago.

To everyone in the Black Watch and the SAS he was a friend. He had no

enemies and I never heard anyone speak ill of him. The world seems a

poorer and duller place without him.

* Appreciation by Col Robert Gurdon, regimental secretary, the Black