The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. M H Brown
Mark Henry Brown was born on 9th October 1911 at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada, the son of Samuel Thomas Brown (1880-??) and Helen Marion Brown (nee McKenzie 1874-1952).
After leaving school he worked for the Bank of Montreal and obtained his flying licence at the flying club at Brandon, Manitoba. He was accepted for a short service commission in the RAF in May 1936 and travelled to the UK, arriving at Liverpool on 30th March 1936 on the ss Montcalm.
He commenced training at 9 FTS Thornaby on 18th July.
After completing the course he joined No. 1 Squadron at Tangmere on 21st February 1937.
Above: Brown (left) with P/O CAP Chetham of 1 Squadron
The squadron was sent to France as part of the BEF following the outbreak of war. On 23rd November 1939 he shared in destroying a Do17, on 3rd March 1940 he shared a He111, and on 20th April probably destroyed a Me109. On 10th May Brown shared a Do17, on the 11th he destroyed two Me110s, on the 14th a Me109 and a Ju87, on the 15th a Me110, on the 17th a Me110 and a He111, on the 18th a Hs126, on the 19th a He111 and probably another, on the 21st a He111, on 5th June a Do17 and on the 14th a He111 and a Me109.
Brown was shot down on 15th June while on a shipping escort over St.Nazaire and baled out over land. He managed to get a lift to Brest and then got on a boat to Southampton. The squadron pilots flew their Hurricanes from France to Tangmere on the 18th and Brown arrived there that evening.
For his efforts in France Brown was awarded the DFC (gazetted 30th July 1940).
1 Squadron was fully operational again by the end of July. On 11th August Brown claimed a Me110 destroyed. Four days later he was shot down and baled out, slightly injured, into the sea off Harwich and was rescued by a trawler. On 24th September he shared in the destruction of a Do17.
His portrait was made by cuthbert Orde (below).
Brown took command of the squadron on 10th November 1940 when the CO was killed in a flying accident.
At the end of April 1941 Brown was promoted and posted to 58 OTU Grangemouth as Squadron Leader Flying. Promoted again on 1st July, he went to 57 OTU Hawarden as CO Training Wing. He was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 23rd May 1941).
In late October 1941 Brown was posted to Malta as Wing Commander Flying. On 12th November he was leading 249 Squadron over Sicily on his first Wing operation, strafing Gela airfield. Hit by flak, he was last seen gliding down.
On the night of 6th December the Italians dropped a note saying that Brown had crashed and been killed and that he was buried with military honours. Brown now lies in Catania War Cemetery.
His awards included the Czechoslovakian Military Cross, perhaps connected with his time in training units.