Funeral for black WWII hero is moved to historic church so 600 people can attend

  • london
  • April 6, 2023
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The funeral for one of the last black World War II veterans has been postponed and moved to a larger church following a flood of people wishing to attend.

Flight Sergeant Peter Brown was 96 when he died alone in Maida Vale, west London, last December.

Arrangements had been made for his funeral to be held in a 140-capacity chapel in Mortlake, south-west London, last month.

But following a call for more attendees to give him a ‘dignified send-off worthy of his life story’, the funeral has now been moved to a much larger venue and postponed until May.

Funeral organisers from Westminster City Council began a search for relatives with help from historians, military researchers and community groups shortly after Sgt Brown’s death.

A campaign was launched in The Sun newspaper to find his surviving family, backed by prime minister Rishi Sunak, which triggered a large response of people wishing to attend the funeral.

Westminster City Council leader Adam Hug said: ‘The national response to Peter Brown’s story has been overwhelming.

‘The details of his life and subsequent search for relatives have truly captured the public imagination and moved people around the world.

‘Our priority has always been to ensure Mr Brown receives a fitting, dignified send-off which allows those wishing to pay their respects the opportunity to do so.’

An RAF spokesperson said: ‘Flight Sergeant Brown is an example of the selfless contribution of all Commonwealth personnel who have served throughout the RAF’s history.

‘We should never forget their sacrifices which have defended our freedom and kept us safe.’

Sgt Brown was born in Jamaica in 1926 and he enlisted in the RAF volunteer reserve in 1943.

He went on to fly Lancaster bomber planes and was posted to RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire after training as a wireless operator and air gunner.

After the war ended he re-enlisted in the RAF and worked as a signaller.

Sgt Brown’s funeral will now take place at St Clement Danes, the RAF Central Church in Westminster, at 11am on May 25, which has a capacity of 600.

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