rwjgray@reachnet.com.au
NSW, Australia
Dr. Robert W. John Gray
Dr Jack Gray

Jack Gray

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Jack Gray

Thank you for your service

On the occasion of Jack's 100th birthday, celebrated in 2019, Darren Chester MP posted this story on Facebook:

This is Robert (Jack) Gray and he was born in Erskineville, NSW 100 years ago today.

Jack enlisted in the Australian Army Dental Corps in December 1942 and was a Captain (then acting Major) with 2/2 Dental Unit. He was the youngest dentist to graduate at the time. He moved between units as men required dental work and was always welcomed wherever he went.

At one point Jack was posted to Wau, New Guinea, but getting there wasn’t easy. The plane had to fly in through a gap in the mountains and through clouds. The Japanese were close by and the pilot had to turn back twice before arriving. Personnel and equipment were unloaded with engines running in preparation for a quick take off.

Jack’s unit was then moved from Wau to a nearby village lower down the mountain where he contracted Dengue Fever on the second day. He was taken to Port Moresby hospital then back to Australia. He was in a coma for two weeks. Once he recovered, he did not return to New Guinea and worked within Australia until his discharge in January 1946. He developed some long term friendships and advises younger veterans to look after their friends.He credits his longevity to cod liver oil, constant mental and physical activity and not drinking or smoking too much.

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                       Now aged 101 years old, Jack is still enjoying his friends and family, especially his great grandchildren.

Dentistry

Jan Edwards, a friend and medico who practiced in Cronulla, mentioned that the group that he was associated with were going to build new premises at 19 Gerrale Street, Cronulla. He asked if I was interested in practicing in the same building. If so they would build premises for me above the medical clinic to my requirements.

Naturally, I certainly was interested, because this would save me a lot of travelling into town and back to Cronulla each day. l could live in Cronulla and practice in Cronulla. I placed the Macquarie St Practice on the market. The practice sold quickly. Consequently, I rented a surgery in Elizabeth Street, opposite Hyde Park worked there for some six months before moving to Cronulla and practicing at Cronulla.


One other dentist was practicing in Cronulla, at that time. I told him or should I say I talked to him and he had no objection to my practicing in the same area. There was plenty of room for both of us. Being close to home. Marjorie came in and acted as my dental assistant, more as a receptionist, rather than as an assistant. We were able to take patients without overloading ourselves and rarely had to go into the surgery after hours. We did have an eccentric patient. She would often sit on the steps leading up to the surgery, offer to run any errands, get us morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. She lived in a large house on the Boulevard facing the ocean by herself, insisted that we come round and visit her, at which she showed Marjorie many of her treasured fabrics and paintings. Despite Marjorie's protests, she insisted that Marjorie accept several large pieces of fabric. Beautifully woven with pure silver thread, we still have these in the camphor wood chest.


At this time I was running both a dental practice, and the business of Silicone Formulations. The fact that Woodfield Boulevard was close meant that I could work between the two without any trouble. I was taking all Wednesday off work and a friend, Orthodontist Bob Gates, asked could he rent the surgery on the day that I wasn't working. Of course, I agreed. It was ideal, and a very good arrangement for both of us. In time,as more needed to be done at Woodfield Boulevard, I eventually sold the practice in Gerrale Street to a Keith Wong. I believe his sister ran a travel agency in the Haymarket. Over the next few years Keith spent as much time at the travel agency as he did in the dental practice. Keith sold the practice in due course and concentrated on the travel agency.

Jack Army Dentist