By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, LONDON, England, Fri. May 26, 2023: In a heartwarming tribute, an immense crowd gathered at the Royal Air Force’s historic St Clement Danes Church, to bid farewell to Caribbean immigrant Flt Sgt, Peter Brown, a World War Two RAF airman.
This extraordinary turnout was a result of a campaign dedicated to giving him a truly “fitting send-off.”
Flt Sgt Brown, a Jamaican-born hero, was among the last group of Afro-Caribbean volunteers known as the “pilots of the Caribbean.” At the age of 96, he peacefully passed away in his Maida Vale home in north London in December.
St Clement Danes Church, the esteemed Central RAF Church, became the poignant setting for Flt Sgt Brown’s final farewell. Adorned with an RAF hat, a spray of flowers, and his cherished war medals, his coffin was respectfully draped with the Union Flag.
The service saw an impressive turnout, with Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, alongside hundreds of members of the public, armed forces personnel, representatives from the Caribbean Diaspora UK community, and friends and neighbors in attendance. Notably, several celebrities, including actors Colin McFarlane, Michael Ward, and Trevor Michael Georges, also paid their respects.
Flt Sgt, Peter Brown at 20.
The funeral had initially been planned at Mortlake Crematorium in southwest London for March. However, overwhelmed by the overwhelming number of requests from the public to attend and the campaign by neighbors for a grand send-off, organizers decided to move the service to St Clement Danes Church.
Flt Sgt, Peter Brown at 93.
Flt Sgt Brown’s service to the country, described as committing “a huge amount of his life to serving this country,” was rightfully celebrated at the spiritual home of the Royal Air Force. Reverend (Group Captain) Ruth Hake, who conducted the funeral, emphasized the significance of this choice.
With no known relatives, Westminster City Council, Flt Sgt Brown’s local authority, took on the responsibility of organizing his funeral. After a call for anyone related to the airman to come forward, the response was overwhelming. A team of genealogists from Anglia Research passionately delved into his past, uncovering a heartwarming story and connecting with half a dozen living family members who attended the service.
Flt Sgt Peter Brown’s remarkable story began in Jamaica on August 22, 1926. He was among the 450 young black volunteers who courageously joined the RAF during World War Two, piloting iconic aircraft like the Lancaster and Spitfire. Enlisting in the RAF Volunteer Reserve in September 1943, Flt Sgt Brown trained as a wireless operator and air gunner at RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire. His bravery shone through as he flew five missions in Lancaster bombers before the age of 20.
While Flt Sgt Brown’s military service remained relatively unknown until his passing, he was deeply cherished by those who knew him. Fondly remembered by friends, neighbors, local shop owners, and most importantly, his family, he left a lasting impression. Beyond his military achievements, he held a passion for cricket and was an esteemed member of the Marylebone Cricket Club for three decades.
Though Flt Sgt Brown lived alone, his community embraced him with warmth and support, ensuring he never felt lonely. His legacy as an extraordinary individual and an exemplar of the selfless contribution of Commonwealth personnel will be remembered for generations to come.