Hundreds attend funeral of RAF WW2 airman Flight Sergeant Peter Brown

Watch: Hundreds gather in honour of the life of Flight Sergeant Peter Brown at St Clement Danes Church.

Hundreds of mourners gathered at an historic central London church for the funeral of one of the last black RAF Second World War veterans.

Flight Sergeant Peter Brown, who flew five operations in Lancaster bombers in early 1945, died alone, aged 96, at his home in Maida Vale, west London, in December last year.

After the war, he stayed on in the RAF for several years, serving in Palestine, Egypt, Tripoli and Malta until his final demob in 1950.

Mr Brown, who was born in Jamaica in 1926, enlisted in the RAF Volunteer Reserve in September 1943 and became one of the so-called 'Pilots of the Caribbean', carrying out missions as a radio operator and gunner.

He is thought to be one of, if not the last, among this group to have died.

Watch: Distant relative of Flight Sergeant Peter Brown says 'we were always looking for him'.

Assistant Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Simon Edwards, attended the funeral and told Forces News: "Anyone who heard the story of Flight Sergeant Peter Brown's later life, I think would have been touched on it at a very personal level. 

"I think whenever we hear stories like that, it's human nature to want to recognise it and to come together and to make things good.

"And I think that's what we are seeing here today, people getting together to recognise his service, to pay respects to the man and also think about all those who've gone before us."

Flt Sgt Brown's funeral service was held at St Clement Danes Church on The Strand, the central church of the RAF, which can seat 600 mourners.

He had appeared destined for a low-key funeral at a 140-capacity chapel in Mortlake, south-west London, in March, until a council appeal to trace his relatives was picked up by historians, military researchers, genealogists, community groups and the media.

Mourners flocked from far and wide to pay their respects, with relatives Brooke Alexander and Myrtle Gutzmore travelling more than 4,000 miles from Jamaica.

Representatives from Caribbean community organisations and those who helped trace his relatives were also in attendance at the funeral, as well as celebrities including actor Colin McFarlane, who has appeared in numerous TV shows including Outlander and Holby City.

Flt Sgt Peter Brown enlisted in the RAF Volunteer Reserve in September 1943
Flt Sgt Peter Brown enlisted in the RAF Volunteer Reserve in September 1943 (Picture: Westminster City Council).

Flt Sgt Brown's coffin was draped in a Union Flag, on top of which lay flowers, an RAF service dress hat and a cushion bearing his two military medals.

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."

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said he was pleased Flt Sgt Brown "received the send-off he deserves from the Royal Air Force".

He added: "Flt Sgt Peter Brown is one of many who came to Europe's aid in its darkest hour and his service to our great nation will never be forgotten."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer posted to Twitter: "Today Flight Sergeant Peter Brown is finally laid to rest.

"Westminster Council, @TheSun, alongside the RAF and Ministry of Defence have worked tirelessly to ensure that he is given the send-off he deserves. Thank you for your service, Flt Sgt Brown."

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