Although Nelson Gracie did not get his wings until the war was twenty months old and he did not get to his first squadron until August 1941, from then onwards hc was deeply involved in front line units, and a study of the foregoing record shows a continuous progress from tail end pilot to Air Group Commander. Unfortunately, although the appointments suggest, for example, that he was in Ark Royal when she was sunk there is nothing in writing. Likewise, although he was in action in Ceylon against the Japanese the only information is a story told to the writer that on 5 April 1942 after an air battle he forced landed on the Galle Face Green in Colombo and calmly ambled into the Galle Face Hotel and ordered breakfast. Similarly, although he is known to have seen action in the Pacific the only information has come from Lieutenant Colonel R. Hay who quotes "he was hot stuff in the Pacific".
He was certainly in the last phase of the war against Japan as Air Group Leader in the Formidable, in the 1st Aircraft Carrier Squadron, followed by a period up to 4 June 1946 in Implacable as Air Group Commander of No.8 Carrier Air Group. On return to UK he was then appointed as Officer-in-Charge of the School of Naval Air Warfare although his substantive rank was still only Lieutenant but serving in the rank of Acting Lieutenant Colonel.
It was at this time that I met him and invited him into Stonehouse Barracks for lunch, having myself reverted to Corps Duty a little earlier. He was clearly shattered at the thought of life in barracks after several years of aviation, and it was not at all surprising that in 1948 he retired at his own request and went to Kenya.