People in England who knew Flight Sergeant Peter Brown have one wish — that the Jamaican be given a funeral befitting his importance as one of the last, and possibly last, West Indian members of the Royal Air Force (RAF) World War II aircrew.
To make that wish a reality, though, they are trying to locate Brown’s relatives ahead of his funeral scheduled for March 29 at Mortlake Crematorium in Richmond at midday.
To date, however, no relatives have been found despite strenuous efforts by the officials at Westminster City Council, the undertaker, various RAF and Royal Air Force Association members and organisations, as well as black history enthusiasts.
Now they have widened their appeal and have sent a message to the Jamaican High Commission in London which, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, is asking anyone who knows Brown’s relatives to contact Desreine Taylor, minister counsellor, diaspora and consular affairs, Jamaican High Commission, at telephone# 0207 823 9911 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brown died alone at his home in Westminster, North London, England, on December 17, 2022. His date of birth is given as August 22, 1926 and his last known relative is his mother, Hermine Brown of a Cargrill Crescent, St Andrew, address.
A story published by The Sun newspaper in England states that Brown is believed to have been single and had no children.
According to the newspaper, the Lancaster bomber vet is thought to have signed up at age 17 before completing his training in Canada.
From there he travelled to Britain with a group of colleagues, joined the RAF in September 1943, and trained as a specialist wireless operator and air gunner.
“He fought for the allies on Lancaster bombers as part of 625 Squadron,” The Sun reported, adding that he was posted to RAF Scampton, home of the legendary Dambusters.
“Brown served in several operations from early 1945 between VE Day and VJ Day, and went on to take part in missions in Palestine, Tripoli, Egypt, and Malta before leaving the forces in 1950,” The Sun story said.
The newspaper also reported that after the war Brown served as driver and later a signaller. He is also thought to have worked for the Ministry of Defence before he died in North London aged 96.
Brown, The Sun reported, was a long-term member of Marylebone Cricket Club and lived near Lord’s cricket ground.
“Locals are raising funds for a book of remembrance or a plaque to commemorate him and his service to Britain,” the newspaper said, quoting a Candice McDonald as saying, “We are appealing to anyone who knows him who can give us any details about this man so we can give him the send-off he deserves.”
According to the newspaper, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has agreed to send top brass to the funeral so Brown will be properly remembered.
“Flight Sergeant Brown is an example of the selfless contribution of all Commonwealth personnel who have served the RAF. I hope that the nation gets behind this Sun campaign. We’ve also arranged for an RAF trumpeter to attend the funeral, alongside a senior RAF officer,” The Sun quotes Sunak.
The newspaper also quotes an RAF spokesperson as saying, “Flight Sergeant Brown is an example of the selfless contribution of all Commonwealth personnel who have served throughout the RAF’s history. We should never forget their sacrifices which have defended our freedom and kept us safe.”
The Sun also reported Air Vice-Marshal Chris Elliot, head of the RAF Benevolent Fund, hailing Sergeant Brown’s “exceptional and selfless” service.
“His commitment to the Royal Air Force and the nation will be remembered long into the future,” she said, adding that, like many others who served in Bomber Command, their service was exceptional and selfless.
“We owe him — and the many others like him — a huge debt of gratitude. His obvious modesty meant that we did not know of his actions until after his passing. Despite extensive efforts, no family members have been traced. As the first citizen of Westminster, I shall attend his funeral and I hope to be joined by many others so we can offer him a fitting send-off,” The Sun quoted Elliot.