W.2 * First Officer  Mrs Grace Brown 

 flag UK   za-1928flag

  b. 2 Feb 1897, Pietermaritzburg, Natal, SA  27 May 1940 to 28 Dec 1940 

  

grace brown 1934  RAeC 1934

     

 

nee Holmes

Address in 1940: Woodland Rise, Seal, Sevenoaks, Kent

Next of kin: husband, Anthony Brown MC. [d. Dec 1954. He was English, 16 years older than her, described as a 'Managing Director of a Printing Company' [Brown, Knight and Truscott], and they met in South Africa in the 1920s. He was there on business, she ran a driving school, they married and travelled together from South Africa to England in March 1926.

They lived at 'Broomhill', Southend Rd, Beckenham, Kent, and had one son, Philip, b. 1930; he later became a commercial pilot, encouraged by Grace.]

Grace Brown c1937

 "Mrs. Grace Brown flew for Air Dispatch (Mrs Victor Bruce's airline)".

"Air Dispatch Ltd was founded on 9 July 1934, and in 1935 started operating weekend freight (later also passenger) services from its base at Croydon Airport to Le Touquet and Le Bourget, Paris. In April 1935, Commercial Air Hire started passenger shuttle services between Croydon and Heston airports, under the name Inner Circle Air Lines, using GAL Monospar ST-4s. In 1935, Commercial Air Hire purchased an Avro 642 Eighteen16-seat airliner (G-ACFV) for newspaper delivery contracts, and Air Dispatch shared its use for bullion-carrying, excursions, joy-riding flights and scheduled passenger services, until mid-1936. [Mildred] Bruce was co-managing director, with Eric E. Noddings, of both closely linked companies, that were merged in 1936 as Air Dispatch Ltd.  Wikipedia

 In 1935, she flew Redhill Aero Club's Puss Moth to Brussels.


gabrielle patterson and grace brown fp r, with Gabrielle Patterson, in 1940  (Forgotten Pilots)

She was an early recruit for the ATA in May 1940 (actually, she joined just as the evacuation of the BEF from Dunkirk was taking place) but soon had to discontinue ferrying due to "getting into a poor state of health and being unfit for flying duties" - a confidential note some two years later says that "between ourselves, a little elbow-lifting was attached to it"

She asked for 3 months unpaid leave, on the understanding that ATA could offer to continue with her services at the end of it.

In the event, when she started back in December, she wrecked the port undercarriage leg of an Airspeed Oxford by selecting 'Undercarriage Up' instead of 'Flaps Up' after landing, and was dismissed shortly afterwards.

[Contract Terminated by ATA 28 Dec 1940]


During WWII, "Mrs (Grace) Brown astonished RAF pilots when she landed at an advanced airfield in France during the German attack, carrying consignments of blood for the wounded." An Illustrated History of the RAF (BoB 50th anniversary edition) by Roy Conyers Nesbit.

Her grand-daughter kindly tells me that "She was actually the first woman to fly to the Front, flying blood to the British Expeditionary Force as it retreated to Dunkirk.  She was one of the first six female pilots to hold the 'B' Licence (Commercial) in the U.K.  She was also a huge character:-) 

After the war, I don't think she flew again.  She seemed to enjoy buzzing around the country lanes in the sidecar of  a motor bike, driven my by father.  When Anthony died they had huge death duties to pay so had to sell up and move to a small house, still in Sevenoaks. She died in 1956, I believe. "


 Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):download grey

 

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