Arthur Roy Brown was born on December 23,1893 in Carleton Place, Ontario. He was the son of a flour mill and power company owner and was fascinated by aerial war and enlisted in 1915 as an Officer Cadet in the Canadian Army Officers’ Training Corps. Brown wanted to join the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) but his father, concerned at the high casualty rate for RFC pilots, declined Brown’s request for elementary flying school lessons.
Of course he ignored the advice of his father and applied to join the RNAS with his three of his friends. He learned he needed an Aero Certificate so he took lessons from the Wright Brothers school in Dayton, Ohio. In 1915 he obtained his pilots certificate and became a Temporary Probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenant. Brown set sail for England on 22 November 1915 and underwent further training at Chingford.
On the 17th of July 1917 while flying a Sopwith Pup on patrol, he brought down a German Albatross DIII south-east of Nieuport. It did not end there and as he led his squadron on the early morning patrol history was made.Wilfred “Wop” May, a good friend of his, was flying his first combat mission. Brown told May to break formation and head for the airfield if they sighted any enemy planes. Shortly after takeoff, Brown’s squadron encountered a multicoloured flight of German planes. May broke formation and headed for home as he had been instructed to do.
At that moment, a bright red Fokker triplane broke through the wispy clouds and moved into an attack position behind May. Captain Brown rushed to help May and fired a full burst at the German. As the bullets riddled the length of the Fokker, the surprised pilot turned to look back and then slumped in his seat.
The red plane glided along and roughly settled in a field next to some Australian trenches. Manfred von Richthofen, the legendary “Red Baron”, was dead by the time the Australian soldiers reached the aircraft. They later claimed they had brought down von Richthofen, the highest scoring German ace, with fire from their trenches, but he had been too far away from their lines when he was mortally wounded. The Red Baron was hit by a single .303 bullet, which caused such severe damage to his heart and lungs and Richthofen’s last word was “kaputt”.
Even though Roy Brown’s downing of Richthofen was contested by Australian ground gunners, the official award was given to him. Brown himself never spoke much about what happened that day, claiming, “There is no point in me commenting, as the evidence is already out there”. Overcoming severe war injuries, he returned to civilian life and later organized an air transport company which served Northern Ontario and Quebec.
According to the records at the Beckwith and Carleton Place Heritage Museum Roy Brown was “fatally” injured after crashing his plane during the war. He was placed in the morgue and pronounced dead. Stearne Tighe Edwards, close friend and fellow airman from Carleton Place went to identify the body. He noticed that blood was still seeping from Brown’s wounds and he appeared to be still breathing. Edwards notified doctors, who immediately removed Brown from the morgue!
Was there a force beyond the description and not confined by existence or reality that revived Roy Brown?
“I had heard that Stearne Tighe Edwards was unable to get the military doctors to take a second look at Roy and he had to go down the road and get a local doctor to come back and only after this doctor saw signs of life did the military doctor move Roy from the morgue.”
Maybe someone from the Roy Brown Society can confirm the details–Shane Wm. Edwards