After extensive research, the Trust has added another Battle of Britain pilot to the exclusive list of those who number amongst Churchill’s famous ‘Few’.
Fewer than 3,000 airmen were awarded the Battle of Britain Clasp following the crucial battle for supremacy in the air in the summer and early autumn of 1940. While new claims continue to be heard, it is rare for an airman to be admitted to the ranks of the Few as the criteria are strict.
Now historians have agreed that 563089 Sergeant Donald Brown, who flew Blenheims with No 604 Squadron during the Battle, should be added to that awe-inspiring list of names.
To qualify for the Clasp, airmen had to fly at least one sortie with one of 71 squadrons and other recognised units between 10 July and 31 October, 1940, the dates officially recognised for what was one of the most important battles fought by this country in the whole of the 20th century.
Because squadron operations record books were not always kept up to date or as accurately as they might have been, it is unlikely that there will ever be a final, definitive list of the aircrew who served, although the number is not expected to change from the current best estimate of around 2,940.
When the Trust was asked to reconsider adding Sgt Brown, who did not feature on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall or in Men of the Battle of Britain – published by the Trust and universally recognised as the definitive biography of those who took part – the charity began to investigate.
As it did so, the Trust recognised that there were indications that Sgt Brown, who later became a Flight Lieutenant, had flown operational sorties that would qualify him for the Clasp.
As a result, the Trust consulted two historians of the Battle and referred the matter to Sebastian Cox, Head of the RAF’s Air Historical Branch, as the final authority. After a lengthy investigation, Mr Cox has concluded that the evidence is strong enough for Flt Lt Brown to be added to the list of aircrew who participated in the Battle.
RAF records show that Donald Brown was born on 25 October 1912, while further research suggests that he was born at Glascoed, Monmouthshire, and died at Horning, Norfolk on December 31 1993 at the age of 81.
His final job before retirement was as a clerk working for a sail makers and upholsterers business. In 1954, in the London area, he married Kathleen D Newland, with whom he went on to have two daughters.
The Trust will include Flt Lt Brown in the updated Men of the Battle of Britain entries on its website and will include him if a fourth edition of the book is ever printed. If possible the name will be added in due course to the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall at Capel-le-Ferne.
It will also be included in the electronic version of Men of the Battle of Britain available to visitors to The Wing, the visitor centre run by the Trust here at Capel-le-Ferne.
Trust chairman Richard Hunting commented: “It is a privilege to be able to add another name to the list of those remarkable men who kept this country safe from invasion in 1940.
“It is not clear why he has been disregarded until now, apart from the lack of firm information in the squadron records. The Trust is delighted to be able to put the record straight.
“We would be very interested to hear from any relatives of Flt Lt Brown who may be able to add more detail to the story. Please get in touch with the Trust by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org”