Arthur Roy Brown, DFC
Born on December 23, 1893 in Carleton Place, Ontario the son of a flour mill and power company owner, Arthur Roy Brown was one of five children. Following a high school education Brown studied at business school in order to take his place running the family businesses. This was followed by a course at Victoria High School in Edmonton from 1913-15 so as to gain his high school matriculation. Brown enlisted in 1915 as an Officer Cadet at the Army Officers’ Training Corps. Following flight training in Dayton, Ohio, Brown joined the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and was appointed Temporary Probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenant, and set sail for England on November 22nd. Upon his arrival, we underwent further training. He crashed his plane in May 1916, and spent two months recovering from a broken vertebra. Following further training, Brown was posted to No. 9 Naval Squadron, given a Sopwith Pup to fly, and tasked with Belgian coastal patrols, in defence of the North Sea fleet, driving off German seaplanes and occasionally running bombing raids. Following several postings to different squadrons, and his first score when he shot down a German Albatross DIII, Brown ended up back with No. 9 Naval Squadron in August 1917, flying Sopwith Camels. On October 6, 1917 Brown, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), in particular, for coming to the aid of an Allied pilot who was under fire from four German Albatrosses. Even though his own guns had jammed, he raced to the pilot’s defence, forcing the Germans to scatter as he flew right through them: a remarkable feat. Ten days later Brown was promoted to Acting Flight Commander. With the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps and the RNAS into the new Royal Air Force (RAF), at the start of April 1918, Brown’s Squadron was renamed 209 Squadron. He was appointed Captain under the new structure, and his squadron was posted to the Somme. The initial sweeping success of the German spring advance of 1918 meant that 209 Squadron occupied no fewer than six different aerodromes from March 20 – 29, 1918, being driven further back each time by German successes. Brown scored kills on April 11th and 12th in the Somme, raising his total to nine. His 10th and final success happened nine days later on the morning of April 21, 1918. His victim was Manfred von Richthofen. In the most famous aerial battle of World War I, Brown’s flight came up against the might of Jasta 11 – the so-called ‘Circus’ led by von Richthofen. While Brown was officially credited with shooting down von Richthofen’s red Fokker DR.I, controversy continues to the present day as to the real source of the credit. Among others, Australian Lewis gunners of 14th Artillery Brigade laid claim for bringing Richthofen down. Rewarded for his efforts that morning Brown was given a Bar to his DFC and widely praised for taking down the war’s highest scoring fighter pilot: Richthofen had racked up 80 aerial victories. After viewing Richthofen’s body on the next day, Brown wrote that “there was a lump in my throat. If he had been my dearest friend, I could not have felt greater sorrow.” He left the RAF in 1919, and returned home to work as an accountant. He also founded a small airline and worked for a while as editor of Canadian Aviation. Arthur Roy Brown died on March 9, 1944 at the age of 50.