William Wood Lindsay "Bill" Brown

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Bill Brown

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Air Force Casualties

Ottawa, 19 Sept. 1944 - The Department of National Defense for Air today issued Casualty List no. 991 of the Royal Canadian Air Force, showing next-of-kin of those named from Ontario as follows:

Missing After Air Operations

BROWN, William Wood Lindsay, F/L, Yellowknife, N.W.T.


Born on August 18, 1916, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Son of Thomas Wood Brown & Nellie Brown, Edmonton, Ab.
Home in Edmonton
1938 - 1939 C.O.T.C. - student
Was in last year BSc in Arts at the University of Alberta
Had worked as assistant surveyor & knew Morse Code
Enlisted in Edmonton on November 7, 1940
Not married
Trained at
No.1 ITS (graduated 14 March 1941)
No.10 EFTS (graduated 16 May 1941) &
No.2 SFTS (graduated as Sgt. 8 August 1941)
To “Y” Depot for embarkation, 9 August 1941
Embarked for overseas duties on August 27, 1941
Promoted to Flight Sergeant 8 February 1942
May 23 1942 to July 14, 1943 served with 80 Sqd.
August 8, 1942 – W/O 11
September 1, 1942 – W/O 1
Commissioned 3 or 30 October 1942
Report in his file at LAC – dated February 18, 1944 – said he had completed his operational instructional tours overseas & would return to Canada for 30 days ’Special Leave’ & then be returned to the UK for a second operational tour.
April 30, 1943 – promoted to F/O
May 14, 1944 - TOS (taken on strength) 441 Squadron
July 12, 1944 – promoted to F/L
August 11, 1944, his plane was hit by flak & controls shot half away – made it back to base
August 12, 1944, flak fragment ruptured his glycol system – made it back to base
August 13, 1944, flying Spitfire # NH 178 (the book, “They Shall Grow Not Old” has # NH 175 but reports in his files at LAC have 178) - he was leading an armed reconnaissance flight – targets 10 miles east of Vire – at approximately 7 pm, he reported he had seen trucks & tanks & ordered to the others to attack and then he reported that he had been hit. He made a sharp turn & started away for base but his wingman reported his plane went into a spin at approx. 2500 ft. (close to American lines near Lisieux), dove into a cloudbank & crashed at Grandmesnil, Calvados.
When he did not return to base, he was classed as MIA
He was buried at the crash site – map ref: A.8/U.33
Exhumed in 1946
Re-interred at Ranville War Cemetery, Calvados, Grave: V.F.12
In 2003 a lake in Northern Alberta was named in his honor


Air Force Casualties

Ottawa, 10 Sept. 1945 - The Department of National Defense for Air today issued casualty lists Nos. 1,266, 1,267 and 1,268, of the Royal Canadian Air Force, showing next-of-kin of those named from Ontario, as follows :

List No. 1267
Previously Missing Believed Killed, Now Officially Presumed Dead

BROWN, William Wood Lindsay, F/L, Edmonton.


BROWN, F/L William Wood Lindsay (J16571) - Mention in Despatches - No.441 Sqn. - (deceased)
Award effective 1 January 1946 as per London Gazette of that date &
AFRO 418/46 dated 18 April 1946.

No citation


Technicalities Mean No DFC

Prior to his last mission, his Squadron Leader, Tommy Brannigan, was going to recommend him for a Distinguished Flying Cross but Brannigan was shot down and was a POW until the war ended.
An undated letter from Thomas A. Brannigan, S/L, ex Co. 441 Squadron:
Re: DFC (F/L W. W. L. Brown J16571) – "The above officer at all times showed the highest degree of courage in the performance of his duties.
He was in no small measure responsible for the excellent record established by 441 Squadron before and after D-Day, having led the Squadron on numerous occasions.
F/L Brown had personally destroyed at least 2 ½ enemy a/c besides damaging several others. He also accounted for many trucks, trains and ground installations."

In a letter, dated May 11, 1945, written by Norman B. Davis, Deputy Medals Controller, to Air Commodore D. Meckell, Jackson Bldg. Ottawa:
"If it is possible to do anything extra to determine what happened to Bill Brown, kindly give this matter special attention. It would also be a fine gesture to investigate if it is possible to award the DFC in this case, even if posthumously."

A message to his mother, dated March 23 – no year given:
"….Mentioned in Despatches on January 1, 1946, by order of His Majesty the King."

In a letter, dated September 6, 1948, signed by J. C. Scott G/C for C.A.S.:
"In view of the fact that Flight Lieutenant Brown is presumed dead and therefore the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross cannot be made, it is suggested that consideration be given to the award of a posthumous Mention in Dispatches in this case."

November 3, 1948, his mother received the “Mentioned in Dispatches” certificate.


Victories Include :

22 June 1944
17 July 1944
1/3 FW190
two FW190s
destroyed *
destroyed **

2.33 / 0 / 0

* Shared with W. R. "Bill" Chowen & Ross A. MacMillan

(The following semi-quoted from "441 Fighter Squadron" by Larry Milberry) - ... on June 22, when scrambled after enemy fighters reported near Domfront. From 10,000 feet two FW190s were spotted. F/O William Wood Lindsay ("Bill") Brown, F/O Bill Chowen and F/Sgt Ross MacMillan took turns firing at one which crashed and exploded. The other was shot down by F/O Jake Fleming, whose combat report notes: "I was flying on the port side of Black Leader as Black Five. I sighted two aircraft on the deck and immediately went down on them. I took the leading aircraft and opened fire at approximately 400 yards. He broke immediately and pulled straight up in the air. I held my fire and, when within 50 yards of him, I saw strikes and then he blew up. I flew through the debris and upon returning to base found that a piece had been knocked off the tip of my propeller. Also, only one Cannon fired. I claim one Fw.l90 destroyed."
One of these victories, whether Fleming's or his comrades', was notable, the victim apparently being Major Josef "Sepp" Wurmheller of JG.2, a veteran of battles dating to September 1939. He wore the Knight's Cross and had 102 Allied aircraft to his credit.

** (from "441 Fighter Squadron" by Larry Milberry) - Six pilots were airborne for a late afternoon patrol on July 17, F/L Bill Brown leading. Ground control reported e/a at 25,000 feet. The Spitfires followed instructions for an intercept. They were at 22,000 when they sighted six FW190s about 1000 feet higher over Brann. Brown put the sun behind him and gave chase for several minutes, ending close to Verneuil. The Germans were inattentive, for Brown was able to close within 50 yards before firing. His target caught fire and exploded. The enemy, now alerted, accepted the challenge. Two of them chased Brown, but he escaped into cloud, re-emerged and found an FW190 positioned like a sitting duck. He latched onto its tail but, before he could fire, the '190 banked, its hood dropped away, and the pilot bailed out.




Thanks to Shirley for the photos & infos !

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