Royal Air Force personnel have joined family, friends, neighbours and dignitaries to pay tribute to the passing of former RAF Flight Sergeant Peter Brown, a WWII veteran who travelled as a teenager from Jamaica to the UK to enlist in the RAF.
Mr Brown, who passed away in December aged 96, was believed to be one of the last surviving volunteers to journey in 1943 from the Caribbean to the UK to contribute to the war effort. He trained as a wireless operator and air gunner and flew several sorties on Lancaster bombers.
The funeral service was led by Reverend (Group Captain) Ruth Hake, the RAF’s Deputy Chaplain in Chief. She said: “The service today was incredibly moving. It was a real privilege to be with those who have travelled across the world to remember Peter and to meet friends and neighbours from Peter’s local community.”
Westminster City Council collaborated with the RAF to arrange the funeral. The Right Worshipful Lord Mayor of Westminster Councillor Patricia McAllister said:
Mr Brown was one of the last of the Caribbean RAF volunteers to fight for the UK at a time of its greatest need and played such a significant role in our nation’s story.
We owe Peter – and the many others like him – a huge debt of gratitude. As the first citizen of Westminster, it was an honour to represent its residents and communities, many of whom played a crucial role in ensuring Mr Brown’s life was marked in a manner befitting his sacrifice.
Councillor Patricia McAllister,
The Right Worshipful Lord Mayor of Westminster
Peter joined the RAF on 19th September 1943 and flew on Lancaster Bombers as a wireless operator and air gunner, and continued to serve after the war as a signaller and driver until 27th February 1950. He died at his home in Maida Vale 17th December 2022. Westminster City Council were unable to find family of the former Serviceman but were inundated by friends and local residents wanting to pay their respects. Significant efforts have managed to find distant relatives, some of which flew across the Atlantic to attend the funeral.
Flight Sergeant Peter Brown epitomised the selfless commitment of the generation who fought for our freedom in the second world war. Their courage and resilience is an inspiration to us all. We mourn his passing, but I am very proud the Royal Air Force has been able to provide a fitting tribute to one of our own.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston,
Chief of the Air Staff
The service took place at the Central Church of the Royal Air Force, St Clement Danes in Central London, before transferring to a private committal for family and friends to pay their respects. Peter’s medals, awarded during his RAF service, were attached to the coffin, with a Union Flag draped and an RAF Service Dress Hat atop.
It is an honour for the RAF to have had the opportunity to recognise the commitment and sacrifice that Peter made and the role he played in the community. Although obviously a modest man, he has undoubtedly had an impact on many people, and it was a privilege to preside over his funeral service today.
Reverend (Squadron Leader) Mark Perry,
The Resident Chaplain of the RAF’s Church
RAF Regiment Gunners from the King’s Colour Squadron formed a Bearer Party to carry the coffin past family, friends, neighbours, dignitaries and RAF personnel. The poignant service included music from the Choir of St Clement Danes, the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment and Maurillia Simpson – a former serviceperson herself.