Arthur Roy Brown was born in Carleton Place, Ontario on 23
To assist his father (a prominent local businessman), with
the family’s expanding electrical company, he transferred to a
business school where he studied accounting. He wanted to continue his business education at university, but wasn’t able
to matriculate at his current school. He then moved to Edmonton
where he stayed with his Aunt Blanch, and attended Victoria High
School from 1913 to 1915.
Although Roy Brown was an officer cadet in the Army Officers’
Training Corps in 1915, he was more interested in the flying
services. He returned to Ontario and discovered that he had to
have an Aero Certificate to be accepted into the Royal Naval Air
Service (RNAS). He travelled to the Wright Brothers flying
school in Dayton, Ohio, earned his certificate on 13 November
1915, and headed back to Canada.
By 15 November 1915, he was appointed temporary probationary
flight sub-lieutenant of the RNAS in Ottawa. On 22 November,
Brown made his way to England.
Once there, he continued his education at Chingford where he
learned how to fly and land aircraft that flew faster than those
he had used in the past. His educational progress then slowed
due to a series of illnesses. When Brown eventually returned to
training, he crashed in an
Avro 504 on 2 May 1916, but managed to climb out of the
wreckage and walk about a half-mile to a telephone. The next
day, it was discovered that he had a back injury, which
prevented him from flying for three months.
In September, Brown moved on to Eastchurch Gunnery School but
did not complete his training until January 1917. Next, he
travelled to Cranwell to complete his advanced training. Brown
was posted to Number 9 Naval Squadron in March 1917. He flew a
Sopwith Pup on patrols.
In April, Brown flew with the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) during
the Battle of Arras along the western front. He became ill and
was not able to fly during the battle in April that became known
as "Bloody April" because the Germans introduced the much more
powerful Albatros DIIIs.
Brown returned to duty and trained for advanced flying with
the Number 11 and Number 4 Naval Squadrons. He achieved his
first aerial victory on 17 July and was promoted to flight
lieutenant. In August, he was posted to Number 9 Squadron and
flew the temperamental
In September, Number 9 Squadron was taken out of the RFC and
placed back into the RNAS. Brown was placed in Number 4 (Naval)
Wing. He was moved to the Frontier Aerodrome near Ostend on the
Belgian frontier, just as the Germans were stepping up their
observations in the area, greatly increasing the number of
On 6 October, Brown won the Distinguished Service Cross when
during a large fight he noticed a single Camel being attacked by
four German Albatros. Although both of his guns were jammed, but
he dove into the group of four German aircraft, causing them to
break off the attack and saving the British pilot. Later on 13
October, he attacked a German DFW and brought it down. By 16
October he had been promoted to the rank of acting flight
Brown was on leave in Canada from 10 November 1917 until 30
January 1918. He returned to England, and his squadron was
refitted with the new BR1 Camels. On 22 March, he attacked a
group of seven German aircraft and downed one.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) came into being on 1 April 1918,
and Brown’s squadron became the 209 Squadron. He was made
captain and moved to the Somme sector in France, which was
seeing the heaviest fighting. There were daily dogfights, with
the average survival period of a new pilot being 11 days. Those
aces that had large numbers of victories were experienced pilots
shooting down new arrivals unable to defend themselves.
Between 20 and 29 March, the Germans were able to push the
lines back 64 kilometres, resulting in an urgent effort to halt
their march forward. To do this, RAF pilots flew four missions a
day, flying just above the ground and firing at soldiers below.
In April 1918, Brown was credited with
shooting down the Red Baron
while out on a patrol.
Brown was later transferred to Number 2 School of Aerial
Fighting and made an instructor. On 5 July 1918, he was taking
off when the motor in his Camel suddenly stopped. Directly ahead
were telegraph lines and trees. He tried to turn, but lost power
and fell to the ground, mangling the aircraft very badly. The
motor ended up on top of him. The near-fatal crash left Brown
recovering in hospital for months.
Brown returned to civilian life and became an accountant and
later, a sales manager. He founded a small airline in Quebec and
Ontario. During the Second World War, he attempted to enter the
Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), but was rejected. He then
became the advisory editor for Canadian Aviation
magazine, but had to give up the position due to bad health.
Brown died of a heart attack at age 50 on 9 March 1944 in