Group Captain G. R. McGregor,
CC, OBE, DFC, GdG(F), MiD(3) and others
SAC 1917-1920

Gordon Roy McGregor was born September 26, 1901 in Montreal, Quebec. He was educated at St. Andrew's College, Toronto, Ontario from 1917 to 1920 and graduated from McGill University at Montreal in 1923 with a degree in Engineering. He then joined Bell Telephone and by 1938 had become Montreal District Manager. One of his tasks was to collect on a $4,000 bill from the city Mayor, Camille Houde. 

His flying career began at Kingston, Ontario in 1932 and the  following year he gained his pilot's license at Ottawa. As a private pilot, he won the Webster Trophy in 1935, 1936 and 1938 (The Webster Memorial Trophy Competition is an annual event intended to declare the "top amateur pilot in Canada", and is recognized by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale as a national sporting event.)

He was the oldest Canadian when he served as a fighter pilot during the Battle of Britain in which he downed numerous [five] enemy aircraft. He was awarded one of the first Distiguished Flying Crosses of the RCAF (see below).

Promotions

  • Joined RCAF Reserve, 1936; 
  • Obtained RCAF wing in 1938. 
  • Flying Officer 1 October 1938; 
  • Flight Lieutenant 1 January 1940; 
  • Squadron Leader 7 October 1940; 
  • Wing Commander 1 April 1941; 
  • Group Captain 1 August 1942. 
Postings
  • With No.115 (Auxiliary) Squadron before war; 
  • To No. 1 (F) Squadron, 28 May 1940 and went overseas with it, June 1940.
  • To No. 2 Squadron, 14 December 1940; 
  • Station Digby 14 April 1941;
  • Overseas Headquarters 1 September 1941 to 21 April 1942; 
  • Returned to Canada in May 1942 and thereafter closely involved in West Coast/Alaska work to April 1943; 
  • Patricia Bay, 1 April 1943 to 6 February 1944. 
  • Returned overseas, February 1944; 
  • No.83 Group, 20 March to 12 July 1944, 
  • Officer Commanding No.126 Wing, 12 July 1944 to 3 October 1945. 
  • Returned to Canada, 21 October 1945; 
  • Released 27 November 1945. 
After the war, McGregor worked for Trans-Canada Air Lines at Montreal and three years later was named president. He also became the principal figure in guiding the airline through its difficult years of expansion, with the result that Air Canada, as it was renamed in 1965, became one of the world's leading carriers. It was reported that, on assuming the presidency of that firm, the Minister of Trasport (C.D. Howe) said, "You stay out of the taxpayer's pockets and I'll stay out of your hair,", to which McGregor replied, "I'll have you out of my hair as soon as possible."  In the next twenty years the company lost money only twice and he retired in 1968.  He was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1968. (Up to 15 appointments are made each year, and there can only be 165 living Companions at any given time.)

McGregor died in Montreal, 8 March, 1971. (See obituary in Montreal Gazette (9 March 1971) and Journal of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, Fall 1971.)  His medals are with Canadian War Museum (AN 19750554-061) and his papers in National Archives of Canada. 

He was inducted into Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974 - "His dedication to the linking together of this nation's far-flying communities by a national air service, has been of  outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation."

The Gordon R McGregor Memorial Trophy is awarded annually by the Air Force Association of Canada (formerly the RCAF Assn), as one of 7 prestigious trophy annual presentations,  in recognition for outstanding achievements in the field of air transportation in Canada. Any Canadian citizen, group or unit organization, engaged in the fields of military and civil air transportation or its support, is eligible.  Presentation takes place at the AFAC Annual General Meeting held Thanksgiving weekend each year
somewhere in Canada. Recent recipients were 8 Wing, Trenton, Airlift Control Elements in Edmonton and Skopje and last year, 437 Transport Sqn, Trenton.

[See PL-5863 (head and shoulders), PL-42111 (with Davoud and Dean Dover).]

 

Companion, Order of Canada

"For his services to aviation during war and peace."
Appointed December 20, 1968; Invested April 8, 1969
Officer, Order of the British Empire
"Group Captain McGregor has performed exceptional work as Officer Commanding the RCAF Wing in Alaska.  He is vigorous and enthusiastic in all he undertakes and by his very manner inspires confidence in all those serving with him.  Group Captain McGregor has had vast experience as a fighter pilot overseas and is particularly outstanding in the direction of air fighting operations.  By virtue of his extensive experience he has rendered excellent service and advice which has contributed in no small measure to the successful protection of the Alaskan area.  He is required to provide close co-operation with the United States Armed Forces in Alaska and has been commended by the Chief of the United States Forces in Alaska for his ability as an organizer in connection with operational duties." 
Award effective 1 January 1943 as per London Gazette of that date
and AFRO 55/43 dated 15 January 1943. 
Dsitinguished Service Order
Distinguished Flying Cross
"This officer has destroyed at least three enemy aircraft and has damaged many others.  He has led his flights and frequently the squadron with gallantry and dash." 
Award effective 25 October 1940 as per London Gazette of that date
Commander of the Order of Orange-Nassau with Swords (Netherlands)
"As commander of an RAF [sic] wing this officer has very greatly contributed to the liberation of the Netherlands in the period between July 1944 and the summer of 1945, thanks to his courageous and meritorious conduct on the land and in the air."

Public Records Office Air 2/9140 has recommendation as cleared by Air Ministry Honours and Awards Committee:

"Group Captain McGregor commanded No.126 Wing from July 1944 to October 1945.  No.126 Wing had the most outstanding successes in combat against the enemy of any Wing on the continent.  Group Captain McGregor's outstanding ability and inspiring leadership played no small part in attaining these unparalleled successes.  The very fine fighting pitch which was attained in the Wing in the battles of Falaise Gap was maintained through the subsequent advance through Holland, and Group Captain McGregor's personal example and leadership was responsible for their outstanding achievements." 

Awarded 12 September 1947 as per AFRO 485/47 of that date
and Canada Gazette dated 20 September 1947.
Offer and citation communicated 9 December 1946 in letter from 
Air Marshal Robert Leckie (Chief of Air Staff) to Minister of National Defence.
Croix de Guerre with Silver Star (France)
Award as per AFRO 485/47 dated 12 September 1947.

 

War Cross, 1939 (Czechoslovakia)
Cananda Gazette dated 24 January 1948, AFRO 81/48 dated 6 February 1948.

 

Mentioned in Dispatches (Three Times)
Award effective 25 September 1941 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 1292/41 dated 7 November 1941.  No citation in AFRO.   Repeated in AFRO 1378/41 dated 21 November 1941.

Award effective 1 January 1945 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 337/45 dated 23 February 1945.

Award effective 1 January 1946 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 322/46 dated 29 March 1946.