Captain Arthur Roy Brown

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Captain Arthur Roy Brown

Birthplace: Carleton Place, Lanark County, Ontario, Canada
Death: March 09, 1944 (50)
Whitchurch-Stouffville, York Regional Municipality, Ontario, Canada
Place of Burial: Toronto, Toronto Municipality, Ontario, Canada
Immediate Family:

Son of James Morton Brown and Mary Elizabeth Brown
Husband of Edythe Lois Monypenny
Father of Private; Private and Donald Morton Brown
Brother of Margaret Maggie Rutherford Brown; Bessie Church Brown; John Horace Brown and Private

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Immediate Family

About Captain Arthur Roy Brown

Arthur Roy Brown, DSC & Bar (23 December 1893 – 9 March 1944) was a Canadian flying ace of the First World War, credited with ten aerial victories.[1] The Royal Air Force officially credited Brown with shooting down Manfred von Richthofen, the "Red Baron", although it is now considered all but certain by historians, doctors, and ballistics experts that Richthofen was actually killed by a machine gunner firing from the ground.
Early years
Brown was born to upper-middle-class parents in Carleton Place, 50 km (31 mi) west of Ottawa. His family home still exists, located at 38 Mill Street, just down from the Town Hall. Another source, the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, refers to the family home as being on Judson Street, and says that this was his birthplace.[3] That house also still exists.[4] He was the middle of five children. He had two older sisters, Margaret and Bessie, and two younger brothers, Horace and Howard. His father had started business as a miller, but branched out into electrical generation when the first power grids were being set up around the start of the 20th century. His father eventually owned a power company in the town.
Though Brown did well in high school, he transferred to a business school to study accounting to eventually take over the family business. Following this course, he wanted to continue to university to study business administration, but he needed to have graduated from high school which he had not done. He took a course at the Victoria High School in Edmonton from 1913 to 1915 to get his high-school diploma. There he befriended Wilfrid R. "Wop" May.
Flight training
Brown enlisted in 1914 as an Officer Cadet at the Army Officers' Training. As a prerequisite to joining the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), Brown received flight training at the Wright Flying School near Dayton, Ohio, from September to November 1914. He was awarded Aero Club of America Pilot's Certificate No. 361 on 13 November, and was confirmed as a flight sub-lieutenant in the RNAS on the 15th.
Wartime service
Brown set sail for England on 22 November 1914 and underwent further training at Chingford. On 2 May 1916, Brown crashed his Avro 504 emerging apparently unscathed, though next morning he experienced severe back pain as he had broken a vertebra. He spent two months in hospital and in September 1916 was posted to Eastchurch Gunnery School. In January 1917, he was sent to Cranwell to complete advanced training.
In March 1917, Brown was posted to No. 9 Naval Squadron, flying coastal patrols off the Belgian coast in Sopwith Pups. In April, "B" Flight, which included Brown, was attached to the Army's Royal Flying Corps to assist during the Battle of Arras. Brown fell ill at this time and missed "Bloody April", a period when British casualties were very high.
In June 1917, Brown was posted to No. 11 Naval Squadron, and in July he was briefly posted to No. 4 Naval Squadron before returning to No. 11 Naval Squadron later that month. On 17 July, he achieved his first "kill", an Albatros D.III, while flying a Pup, and gathered another three unconfirmed kills.
No. 11 was disbanded in mid-August 1917, and Brown returned to No. 9, equipped with the Sopwith Camel. He was promoted to flight lieutenant on 1 October,[6] and on 6 October, Brown was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC). His citation read:
Acting Flight Lieutenant (now Flight Lieutenant) Arthur Roy Brown, RNAS.
For the excellent work he has done on active service. On 3 September 1917, he attacked a two-seater Aviatik, in company with his flight. The enemy machine was seen to dive down vertically, the enemy observer falling over on the side of the fuselage shot. On 5 September 1917, in company with formation, he attacked an Albatross scout and two-seater, driving them away from our lines. One machine was observed to go down apparently out of control. On 15 September 1917, whilst on patrol, he dived on two Aviatiks and three Albatross scouts, followed by his flight. He dived several times and picked out one enemy scout, firing about 200 rounds, when the enemy machine went down out of control, spinning on its back. On 20 September 1917, whilst leading his flight, he dived on five Albatross scouts. Flight Lieutenant Brown picked out one enemy machine and opened fire. One of his guns jammed, but he carried on with the other. The enemy machine went down out of control and over on its back, and remained in that position for about thirty seconds, whilst Flight Lieutenant Brown continued firing until his other gun jammed. The enemy machine then disappeared in the clouds, still on its back. Another officer of the same patrol was later followed by four enemy machines, as he was separated from the formation. Both Flight Lieutenant Brown's guns were jammed, but he dived on the enemy machines and drove them off, thus undoubtedly saving the pilot's life.
Soon after, Brown was made a flight commander, a role in which he excelled. No. 9 was posted to the Somme area in early 1918, and was forced to retreat during the German spring offensive between 20 and 29 March. The tempo of operations increased, with the entire squadron typically flying two missions a day. Colonel Raymond Collishaw noted on an April visit that Brown looked exhausted: he had lost 11 kg (25 lb), his hair was prematurely turning grey, and his eyes were bloodshot and sunken. Also eating contaminated rabbit had left him severely sickened with gastritis. Against Collishaw's suggestions, Brown refused to quit flying, and shot down another two aircraft on 11 and 12 April.
On 1 April 1918, the RFC and RNAS were merged into the Royal Air Force. Brown's No. 9 Squadron RNAS became No. 209 Squadron RAF.
Fighting the Red Baron
On the morning of 21 April 1918, No. 209 was on patrol when they became engaged in combat with fighters of Jagdstaffel 11, led by Manfred von Richthofen, the "Red Baron". A newcomer to No. 209, Brown's school friend, Lieutenant Wilfrid "Wop" May, had been instructed to stay clear of any fight and watch. May noticed an enemy pilot doing the same thing. That pilot was the Red Baron's cousin, Lt. Wolfram von Richthofen, who had been given the same instructions as May. May attacked Wolfram and soon found himself in the main fight, firing at several fleeting targets until his guns jammed. May dived out of the fight, and Manfred von Richthofen gave chase down to ground level. Brown saw May in trouble and dived steeply in an attempt to rescue his friend. His attack was necessarily of fairly short duration, as he was obliged to climb steeply to avoid crashing into the ground, losing sight for the moment of both Richthofen and May.
What happened next remains controversial to this day, but it seems highly probable that Richthofen turned to avoid Brown's attack, and then, instead of climbing out of reach of ground fire and prudently heading for home, remained at low altitude and resumed his pursuit of May, who was still zig-zagging, as he had not noticed that Richthofen had been momentarily distracted. It would have been physically impossible for Richthofen to have done this had he already received the wound from which he died. May and Richthofen's route now took them at low level over the heavily defended Allied front line. Franks and Bennett have suggested that Richthofen had become lost, as the winds that day were blowing the "wrong way", towards the west, and the fight had drifted over to the Allied side. The front was also in a highly fluid state at the time, in contrast to the more common static trench lines earlier in the Great War, and landmarks can be confusing in very low level flight.
Australian machine gunners on the ground fired at Richthofen, who eventually crashed near the Australian trenches. Brown's initial combat report was that the fight with Richthofen was "indecisive" – this was altered by his commanding officer to "decisive". Modern historical consensus suggests that Australian anti-aircraft gunner Sergeant Cedric Popkin is the person most likely to have been responsible for the shot that actually downed the Baron.
Brown was officially credited with the kill by the RAF, shortly after receiving a Bar to his DSC, at least partly in recognition of this feat. The citation read:
Lieutenant (Honorary Captain) Arthur Roy Brown, DSC.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. On 21 April 1918, while leading a patrol of six scouts, he attacked a formation of 20 hostile scouts. He personally engaged two Fokker triplanes, which he drove off; then, seeing that one of our machines was being attacked and apparently hard-pressed, he dived on the hostile scout, firing all the while. This scout, a Fokker triplane, nose dived and crashed to the ground. Since the award of the Distinguished Service Cross he has destroyed several other enemy aircraft and has shown great dash and enterprise in attacking enemy troops from low altitudes despite heavy anti-aircraft fire.
Later years
Nine days after the combat with von Richthofen, Brown was admitted to hospital with influenza and nervous exhaustion. In June, he was posted to No. 2 School of Air Fighting at Marske Aerodrome, as an instructor. He was involved in a bad air crash on 15 July, and spent five months in hospital.
Brown left the RAF in 1919 and returned to Canada where he took up work as an accountant at a small town grocery store and later moved to Toronto to work at Imperial Varnish and Color Company until he retired in 1934. He also founded a small airline in 1928, General Airways Limited in Amos, Quebec and in same year married Edythe Moneypenny. Brown worked for a while as editor of Canadian Aviation. When the Second World War broke out, he attempted to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force, but was refused. He instead entered politics, losing an election for the Ontario legislature in 1943. The Browns moved to Stouffville in 1939 and in 1943 purchased a dairy farm at Bethesda Road and Warden Avenue near Stouffville, Ontario (now part of the property of Rolling Hills Golf Club).[12] Brown was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame in 2015.
Brown died on 9 March 1944, of a heart attack, in Stouffville, Ontario shortly after posing for a photograph with a current Canadian flying ace, George Beurling. He was 50 years old. He is buried, with his wife, Edythe, in the Toronto Necropolis."


Before Flying
Born in Carleton Place, Ontario on December 23, 1893, Arthur Roy Brown was known by his middle name, Roy. After attending school in Carleton Place, he studied accounting at the Willis School of Business in Ottawa from 1910-12. An invitation from an uncle, William Brown and his wife, Blanche, took Roy to Edmonton, Alberta, where he enrolled in Victoria High School from 1913-15. There he became friends with Wilfrid “Wop” May; the names of the two young men would soon be inseparably linked.
A Couple Bad Crashes
Returning home, Roy applied for enlistment in the First World War with the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). He was told that if he could earn a flying certificate, his tuition fees would be refunded and he could enlist in the RNAS as a Probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenant. Roy enrolled at the Wright School of Aviation at Dayton, Ohio, qualifying for his Aero Club of America Certificate on November 13, 1915 on his only solo flight, with only five hours and twenty minutes of flying time. On December 2 he sailed for England, where he began training at RNAS Station Chingford, twelve miles north of central London. While there he flew more advanced aircraft and on October 1915, Roy suffered minor injuries when his airplane crashed.
On April 6, 1916, the engine of his BE.2c aircraft at Chingford failed and he crashed again, breaking a vertebra. After recovery and resuming training, on September 6 he was given his RNAS Pilot Certificate and the rank of Probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenant and posted to Eastchurch Gunnery School. In January 1917 Roy was posted to Royal Navy Station Dover and on March 9 was assigned to active service.
On March 10 Brown was appointed to Number 9 Naval Squadron in France at the aerodrome near the village of Saint-Pol-Sur-Mer, near Dunkirk, flying patrols along the Belgian coast. After flying three missions in Nieuport aircraft he was given a Sopwith Pup, which he crashed when landing on March 16. He reinjured his back, as well as his left knee, and was sent to England for recovery. Returning to his station on May 10, he was given responsibility for maintenance of five aircraft and training of five pilots.
Victories and Promotions
On June 13, Roy was transferred to RNAS 4 Squadron at Bray Dunes, also near Dunkirk. When pilots flew at high altitudes, oxygen was scarce, temperatures were sub-zero Fahrenheit, lubricants on aircraft components congealed, guns frequently jammed and engine failures were not uncommon. Flying almost daily at high altitudes plus the mental strain of the work, was taking its toll on Roy’s health.
Following two more months of flying in which Roy was formation flying, testing new aircraft, doing photographic reconnaissance, patrol and escort flights, he scored his first victory on July 17. He downed a superior German aircraft, an Albatross III, while leading a flight of Sopwith Pups and was promptly promoted to Acting Flight Lieutenant. On August 24 he was recommended for further promotion and sent on leave, returning to 9 Naval on September 1. Two days later he scored his second victory, while flying a Sopwith Camel, an aircraft new to him. Assigned to command a flight, Roy shot down three more enemy aircraft in quick succession. Confidential Reports stated, “Performed his duties as Flight Leader with great skill and dash – most efficient officer with men, good control of men.” On September 6, Roy was recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), awarded for the performance of meritorious or distinguished services before the enemy.
By October 13, 1917 Roy had scored his sixth victory. From November 10 until January 29, 1918 he returned to Canada on home leave. Back at 9 Naval in France, he was promoted to Acting Flight Commander, now flying only the Sopwith Camel biplane single-seater fighter. Escalation of the war saw Brown flying at least two combat missions a day, as well as training new pilots.
On March 13 he was recommended for promotion to Squadron Leader and soon scored his seventh victory. On April 1, 1918, the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service amalgamated to form the Royal Air Force (RAF). Roy Brown’s rank changed from Flight Commander with the RNAS to Captain in the RAF. His squadron was renamed as 209 Squadron. On April 9, his high school friend, Wop May, was posted to the squadron and joined Brown’s A Flight. On April 11 and 12, Brown scored two more victories, bringing his total to nine.
The Fight with The Red Baron
On the morning of April 21, 1918, Brown’s squadron engaged with Baron Manfred von Richthofen’s “Flying Circus” German squadron of Fokker Triplanes. During the melée Wop May’s guns jammed, so he left the fight, heading for Allied lines, with the “Red Baron” giving chase. Seeing that May was in trouble, Roy Brown dove on von Richthofen, firing a burst at the red triplane and saving Wop May’s life. Von Richthofen’s airplane went down and Brown was recognized for downing the dreaded German fighter pilot, but never credited with the victory.
There is no doubt that Roy set in motion the events that resulted in the death of Germany's "Ace of Aces" and in so doing saved the life of "Wop" May - Roy did not fire the fatal round and nobody was given official credit for shooting down Richthofen.
After the War
Four days later, Brown was grounded and hospitalized with severe food poisoning and extreme exhaustion, then sent to England to recover. Soon afterwards, he was recommended to receive the DSC for the second time. Released from hospital on June 6, Brown reported for duty as an instructor with No. 2 School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery in Yorkshire. On July 15 just after takeoff, his engine failed, the aircraft stalled and crashed. Seriously injured again, Roy spent eight months in hospital before being sent back to Canada on March 8, 1919 and was released from the RAF in April 1920 with the rank of Captain.
On February 19, he married Edythe Monypenny in Toronto, and by 1928 the couple had three children – Margaret, Barbara and Donald. Roy was employed with the Imperial Varnish and Color Company Limited of Toronto, partly-owned by his father-in-law, but maintained his interest in aviation.
General Airways
In March 1928 Roy incorporated General Airways Limited, with himself as president. In June the company began operation from Amos, Québec with two aircraft servicing remote mining companies in Québec and Ontario. By 1935 the company was operating four bases in Québec and one in Ontario. Seven aircraft were in service carrying freight and passengers to remote points as far as Flin Flon, Manitoba and providing scheduled service to Winnipeg.
With changing government policies, competition from other carriers and during the Depression, even though General Airways had enjoyed financial success, eventually it became unprofitable, and ceased operating in March 1940. Roy’s next venture was to purchase a run-down farm near Stouffville, Ontario, turning it into a profitable business. Still with an interest in aviation, he accepted an appointment as associate editor for Canadian Aviation magazine, a short-lived position because of his deteriorating health. On March 9, 1944, at the age of only 50, Arthur Roy Brown died at home.

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Captain Arthur Roy Brown's Timeline

December 23, 1893
Carleton Place, Lanark County, Ontario, Canada
June 1, 1921
Age 27
Toronto, York East, Ontario, Canada
December 5, 1926
Toronto, York, Ontario
March 9, 1944
Age 50
Whitchurch-Stouffville, York Regional Municipality, Ontario, Canada
Toronto, Toronto Municipality, Ontario, Canada