Arthur Roy Brown 1893 - 1944

WWI Flying Ace

Roy “Brownie” Brown is a decorated Canadian First World War flying ace. He was born and raised in Carleton Place near Ottawa. He learned how to fly at the Wright (Brothers) School of Aviation in Ohio.

Although disputed by some, Brown is officially credited with shooting down the German ace Manfred von Richthofen, aka “the Red Baron.” Richthofen’s bright red Fokker aircraft earned him the nicknames “red knight,” “red baron,” and “diable rouge,” and his habit of moving the squadron, tents, and equipment from base to base gave rise to the sobriquet “flying circus.”

Manfred von Richthofen aka The Red Baron

Manfred von Richthofen aka The Red Baron

On the morning of April 21, 1918, Canadian Capt. Roy Brown led a flight of 15 aircrafts flying cover for some photo planes.  A huge dogfight ensued. Over thirty planes twisting, shooting, and tearing at each other.  Capt. Brown went after the Baron. The Red Baron’s aircraft dived and crashed near Sailly-le-Sec, an area held by Australian infantry.

The Australians immediately recovered the plane and were surprised to discover Richthofen’s body inside the wreckage. Despite being an enemy, allied respected von Richthofen. A full military funeral was arranged and he was buried nearby.

The unassuming Captain Brown never officially claimed the kill; and some Australian gunners did, so to this day, no one knows for sure who brought down the greatest German ace of the Great War. Apparently, Brown himself called his air battle with the Baron “indecisive” in his report, but his commanding officer changed that to “decisive” and he was credited with the kill. And some claim that ballistic studies on the Baron’s body prove that Brown gunned him down.

After WWI Brown held several jobs including running a small airline. He eventually bought a farm in Stouffville, northeast of Toronto. When WWII broke out, Brown tried to join the RCAF but was rejected, probably due to traces being left from his injuries incurred during WW1. Brown died in 1944 in Stouffville of a heart attack at age 50. His grave in the Necropolis is unmarked and just a few metres away from the marker installed in June 2016 with funding from The Last Post, an organization dedicated to provide grave markers to eligible members of the Canadian Forces.

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