The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. P M Brothers
Peter Malam Brothers was born in Prestwich, Lancashire on 30th September 1917 and educated at North Manchester School. He learned to fly aged 16 while still at school, taking flying lessons at the Lancashire Aero Club and gained his civil pilot’s 'A' licence.
In January 1936 he joined the RAF on a short-service commission. He was posted to 9FTS Thornaby on 4th April and joined 32 Squadron at Biggin Hill on 11th October 1936, becoming a Flight Commander in late 1938.
Still with the squadron in 1940, Brothers claimed a Me109 on May 18th, a Me110 on the 23rd, Me109's on July 19th, 20th and 29th, a Me110 on August 16th, a Me109 and a Do17 on the 18th and Me109's on the 22nd and 24th.
Brothers was posted to 257 Squadron at Debden on 9th September, as a Flight Commander, and on the 15th he destroyed a Do17 and a Ju88. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 13th September 1940) and posted to 52 OTU in January 1941 as an instructor.
Brothers was posted to Baginton in June 1941 to form 457 (RAAF) Squadron with Australian pilots and RAF ground crews. On 26th March 1942 he claimed a Me109 destroyed and on 29th April a probable Fw190. He took command of 602 Squadron at Redhill in June 1942 and on the 26th he damaged two Fw190's, on 18th August destroyed a Fw190 and on the 19th damaged another.
In October 1942 Brothers was appointed Wing Leader at Tangmere. He destroyed a Fw190 on 26th January 1943 and was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 15th June 1943). On 29th July Brothers was posted to 61 OTU and moved to a staff job at HQ 10 Group on 22nd November. He destroyed a Fw190 on 12th January 1944.
A return to operations came in April 1944, when Brothers was appointed Wing Leader at Exeter. There were six squadrons in the Wing, scattered over various airfields and difficult to control. Brothers split the Wing into two. He continued as Culmhead Wing Leader and Wing Commander HAC Bird-Wilson took over the Harrowbeer Wing. On 7th August Brothers destroyed a Fw190. In October 1944 he was posted away and awarded the DSO (gazetted 3rd November 1944).
Brothers went to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for a course at the Command and General Staff School. After returning to Britain He was posted to the Central Fighter Establishment, wHere he stayed until leaving the RAF in March 1947. In September 1945 Brothers took part in the first Battle of Britain flypast over London, led by Douglas Bader.
He joined the Colonial Service and served in Kenya, where he flew his own aircraft. Brothers rejoined the RAF in 1949, was posted to Bomber Command and given command of 57 Squadron. He took it to Singapore on 15th March 1950, the first bomber squadron to participate in tHe Malayan campaign, and returned to Britain on 11th July.
In 1964 he was appointed CBE and made a Freeman of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators in 1966 and was a member of its technical committee and of its court. He was elected Master of the Guild in 1973-74. He gave great support to the Battle of Britain Fighter Association, being appointed its deputy chairman in 1993 and taking over as chairman 10 years later.
(Above: Peter Brothers at St Clement Danes Church in 2007 for the inaugaration of the Battle of Britain Heritage Walk)
He was a great supporter of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust and the London Monument. He was also patron of the Spitfire Association of Australia and president of his local branch of the Air Crew Association at Hungerford, Berkshire.
He died on 18th December 2008, aged 91.
His wife, Annette, died in 2005. He is survived by two daughters.