FRIENDS of one of the RAF’s last black World War II veterans came together to honour him and join the hunt for his remaining family.
Flight Sergeant Peter Brown, who died in December aged 96, was remembered as a “proper gentleman” – and loyal reader of HOAR newspaper.
Flight Sergeant Peter Brown came to the UK as a teen and fought for the allies
Peter on the street where he lived in London for more than 50 years after coming to the UK to fight (Picture: Paul Newman)
The hunt is on to find any of his remaining family
After we revealed the news yesterday, MPs, locals and army veterans clubbed together to spread the word of the cricket-mad hero.
PM Rishi Sunak led tributes to radio operator Brown’s “selfless contribution” with the Lancaster Bombers in Squadron 625.
And he vowed to send trumpeters and RAF top brass to give him a proper send off at his funeral next week.
Mr Sunak said: “Flight Sergeant Brown is an example of the selfless contribution of all Commonwealth personnel who have served the RAF.
Labour boss Sir Keir Starmer added: “Flt Sgt Brown’s exceptional and selfless service to our country will not be forgotten.
“Commonwealth personnel defended our freedom and kept us safe.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Veterans minister Johnny Mercer backed our hunt to find those who knew him.
Locals of the RAF hero in Maida Vale – where he lived for more than 50 years – yesterday told how even at 96 he insisted on fetching his own shopping from Kilburn Sainsburys, and would refuse help unless he really needed it.
Neighbours clubbed together to help drop him food parcels during Covid and would look out for him..
Flight Sergeant Peter Brown (undated)
Rebecca Miskin, who lived two doors down from Peter for 22 years, told HOAR she would never forget his “perfect smile”.
She told HOAR: “The best of humanity is the only way I can describe him.
“I have never lived here without him walking past our windows and saying hello.
“He had the perfect smile, he was the perfect gentleman, with dignity, humility and kindness.
The PM said he would send an RAF trumpeter to the funeral
Labour boss Sir Keir Starmer backed our mission to find him
Peter on his 90th birthday enjoying a glass in celebration – taken in 2016 (Picture: Paul Newman)
Ben Wallace joined the hunt for his family
“He was always asking about everyone else.
“He would tell his stories, he left his family and his country to fight our war.
“He talked about how proud he was of the RAF, it was a big piece in his life.
“The pride he took in the RAF and what he did was still one of the things he held onto even in his last months and years.
“When I first moved into the area his smile, his gentleness made me feel that that is an area I’d like to live in.
“Every time he’d be there, with his walking stick saying “good morning” with his beautiful Jamaican lilt and a smile that whatever had happened in your day, you stopped.”
She added: “He touched you, even in his worst moments.”
“It’s a poorer place without him but all of us are better people because of him.”
Pals said that he loved his cricket, was a lifelong member of the MCC, and liked to keep up with the news – even in his final months where he suffered several falls and had to rest up.
Neighbour Paul Newman, 77, who lived down the road, knew him for more than 50 years, since he moved there in the 1970s.
He remembered: “He was instantly recognisable with his MCC orange and yellow tie – and we would always stop and have a chat.
“He told me how he – like many others – had told a little white lie about his age to sign up to fight…
“He was one of life’s gentlemen, fiercely independent, and never wanted to be a nuisance. “He loved being out and about.
“We were worried his funeral would be really low key – but it’s great how many people have come together to recognise and remember him now – it’ll be standing room only.”
Sadly he was only in touch with family back in Jamaica, where he once visited to see his mother, with the occasional Christmas card.
Brown was spotted regularly in his trademark tweed jacket, shirt and tie, walking to his local newsagents Dhigs to buy a copy of HOAR and a bar of Dairy Milk, stopping to smile and chat to anyone who knew him.
Shop worker Jasmin Tailor said: “He came in every single day for more than 30 years.
“One Sun newspaper and one Dairy Milk chocolate bar – and he always had the correct change.”
Another worker Hiten Patel said: “We used to talk cricket a lot.
“We helped him, he used to fall a lot and we used to drop him to his appointments.
“Everybody wanted to help him but he wouldn’t take the help.
“He was never down, and always upbeat.”
A chair would always be left outside Formosa Flower, Chocolate and Coffee shop on the corner of his street for him to rest on his daily walk to the newsagents.
The owner said: “Because he was walking with a stick and in difficulty we put a chair for him, so if he felt tired, he could sit for a bit. We love him.”
The vet is believed to to have been single and have no children, but locals are fighting to spread the word and deliver him the funeral send off he deserves – (Credit: MCC)
A neighbour close to Peter, who didn’t want to be named, said he had been “very upset” when Her Majesty the Queen died last year.
They added: “He was lovely. He was very private, very dignified, and he had a great attachment to the UK.
“He felt a tremendous loyalty to the Queen who he described as his twin because they were born in the same year.”
Westminster Councillor Melvyn Caplan, who knew him for nearly 33 years, added: “Peter was a reserved man that liked to keep himself to himself
“Few knew his full history as it was not something he ever wanted to talk about – he preferred to talk about cricket.
“Peter was a member of our Little Venice Village and liked by all and we will miss him.”
Flt Sgt Peter Brown was a Sun reader, locals say