Funeral for one of the RAF’s last black WW2 pilots moved after surge in requests to attend
The funeral of a man thought to be one of the last “pilots of the Caribbean” who flew for the RAF in the Second World War has been moved to a new date and venue after a plea for mourners drew a huge response.
Flight Sergeant Peter Brown died aged 96 in Maida Vale, West London, on December 17.
His funeral was set to be held on March 29 at Mortlake Crematorium. However, it is now being moved to a bigger venue after a successful search for mourners launched by Westminster Council, the RAF and historians.
Mr Brown left Jamaica to join the RAF in 1943, serving on Lancasters in 625 Squadron.
Typically, the 140-space capacity at Mortlake chapel would have provided room for a fitting send off.
But Mr Brown’s previously untold story – which was only uncovered after weeks of research by the council, archivists, and historians - has captured the public imagination.
His funeral could now be held at the RAF church St Clement Danes in the Strand though the location is still to be confirmed.
Born in Jamaica in 1926, Mr Brown volunteered for the RAF in 1943, flying five missions as a gunner in Lancaster bombers over war-torn Europe.
It is estimated that hundreds of “pilots of the Caribbean” served as RAF air crew in the Second World War, while around 16,000 West Indians did duty as RAF ground crew or as soldiers in the army or sailors in the Royal Navy.
Last month, the funeral of Ronald Gale, 97, another former RAF man, drew over 100 mourners in Ipswich, thanks in part to a social media campaign similar to the one launched on behalf of Mr Brown.
A Westminster Council spokesman said on Thursday: “The public response for the call out for relatives and friends of Peter Brown has been both heart-warming and overwhelming.
“His story of valour and modesty has touched many who rightly wish to pay their own tribute for his service to this nation, his adopted home for so many years.
“We would like to thank the media for their fantastic campaign which has given Mr Brown the recognition and respect he deserves.”