Arthur Whitten Brown

Arthur Whitten Brown

Birth
Glasgow City, Scotland
Death 4 Oct 1948 (aged 62)
Swansea, Swansea, Wales
Burial Tylers Green, Wycombe District, Buckinghamshire, England
Memorial ID 8746392 · View Source
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British air navigator and engineer. Arthur Whitten Brown was born in Glasgow, the only child of American parents: Arthur George Brown and Emma Whitten. Mr. Brown, Senior, was an electrical engineer, and his son followed him into this profession, serving his apprenticeship at the British Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company in Manchester, whilst studying at the University in that city in his spare time. He was sent to South Africa with the company, but returned to England at the outbreak of the First World War. He obtained a commission with the Manchester Regiment, but transferred to the Royal Flying Corps as an observer, until November 1915, when he was shot down over enemy territory, receiving a permanent injury in one leg. He was repatriated in September 1917 and spent the rest of the War working in the aircraft production department of the Ministry of Munitions, whilst studying for his private pilot's licence. In 1919, he was out of work and looking for a job when he was invited by John Alcock to be the navigator in an attempt to make the first direct flight across the Atlantic. In 1913, The Daily Mail newspaper had offered £10,000 for the first non-stop Atlantic crossing taking less than 72 hours; this had lapsed during the hostilities, but was renewed following the Armistice. A Vickers Vimy bomber, powered by two 360 horsepower Rolls Royce engines, was obtained and sent to Newfoundland. In May 1919, whilst Alcock and Brown were still in preparation for their flight, the first crossing of the Atlantic was made by the American Lt. Commander John Cushing Read, but that was ineligible for the prize as he had taken too long and had broken his journey in the Azores before flying on to Lisbon. On the 14th. June 1919, at 4.13 P.M. (G.M.T.), Alcock and Brown's Vimy just managed to take off from the short grass runway at Lester's Field, St. John's, Newfoundland. Sixteen hours and 27 minutes later, at 8.40 in the morning, they landed, in what they imagined to be a grass field, but which turned out to be Derrygimla Bog, near Clifden in County Galway, on the West coast of Ireland.The wing of the aircraft was damaged, but the two men were uninjured. For most of the journey, the airspeed indicator was out of order, because the pitot tube had broken, so Brown had to make his own estimate of the speed, and was able to take his bearings only four times, and only once when it was dark. It was eight years before the next non-stop flight was made. Six days after they landed, both men were knighted; unfortunately, Alcock was killed in an air crash that December, and is buried in Manchester. Brown went to work for the Metropolitan Vickers Company and, in 1923, was made their chief representative for the Swansea district. During the Second World War, he rejoined the Royal Air Force to train pilots in navigation and engineering. Three years after the War, he died at his home, Belgrave Court, in the Uplands district of Swansea, of an accidental overdose of Veronal. In 1919, the year of his great flight, he had married Marguerite Kathleen Kennedy (died 1st. May 1952) of Penn in Buckinghamshire, where their ashes are buried; she was the daughter of a Major in the R.A.F. They had one son, also named Arthur Whitten, who became a Flight Lieutenant but was killed on D-Day.


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  • Created by: Iain MacFarlaine
  • Added: 12 May 2004
  • Find a Grave Memorial 8746392
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Arthur Whitten Brown (23 Jul 1886–4 Oct 1948), Find a Grave Memorial no. 8746392, citing St Margaret Churchyard, Tylers Green, Wycombe District, Buckinghamshire, England ; Maintained by Iain MacFarlaine (contributor 46514200) .