A service to mark the life of Flight Sergeant Peter Brown, thought to be one of, if not the last of the so-called ‘Pilots of the Caribbean’, was held at St Clement Danes, the RAF Central Church, in Westminster on 25 May at 11am.
The announcement by Westminster City Council and the Royal Air Force came after plans to hold a funeral at Mortlake Crematorium were postponed because of a surge in requests to attend from well-wishers.
Arrangements were made to ensure Mr Brown received a dignified send-off worthy of his life story.
In keeping with his military background, the RAF hosted Mr Brown’s funeral at St Clement Danes Church in his home borough of Westminster.
St Clement Danes, The Central Church of the RAF, has a significantly larger capacity than the previous venue, which allowed for many more people to pay their respects.
600 spaces in the church had been reserved for the public. Priority access was given to those with a connection to Mr Brown.
Mr Brown, who was originally from Jamaica, came to the UK at the height of the Second World War to volunteer for service in the RAF. He flew in Lancaster bombers carrying out a number of missions as a radio operator and gunner. After the war he stayed in the RAF before joining civilian life.
Mr Brown died at his Maida Vale home, aged 96, in December. With no obvious family the arrangements for his interment came under Westminster City Council. Council officers began a search for relatives, which quickly got taken up by historians, military researchers, genealogists and community groups.
Since then, there has been a search spanning the globe looking for his relatives and a number of leads were followed up by council officers and genealogists.
Leader of Westminster City Council, Cllr Adam Hug said:
The national response to Peter Brown’s story has been overwhelming. The details of his life and subsequent search for relatives have truly captured the public imagination and moved people around the world.
Our priority was always to ensure Mr Brown received a fitting, dignified, send-off that allowed those who wished to pay their respects, the opportunity to have done so.
We are grateful to the RAF who stepped in and provided a perfect venue to reflect Peter’s military service. We worked with the RAF, community groups and well-wishers to ensure the service represented the many aspects of Mr Brown’s life.
An RAF Spokesperson said:
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 funeral of Flight Sergeant Peter Brown
Following the service, there was a private committal where Mr Brown was laid to rest. This was reserved for personal friends and any family Mr Brown had.
Download the Order of Service for the funeral below.
Published: 6 April 2023