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Air Vice Marshal Sir Leslie Brown


Leslie Oswald               b: 11 Jul 1893                       r: 23 Jan 1949                      d: 28 Jun 1978

KCB - 1 Jan 1948 (CB - 1 Jan 1945), CBE - 24 Sep 1941, DSC - 15 Jun 1917, AFC - 3 Jun 1919, MiD - 26 Jun 1931, MiD - 6 May 1932, MiD - 11 Jun 1942, KH VII LC - 12 Apr 1949.

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(RNAS):- (T) (P) Flt Sub-Lt: 2 Oct 1915, (T) Flt Sub-Lt: 30 Nov 1915 [2 Oct 1915], (T) Flt Lt: 31 Dec 1916.

(RAF):- (T) Capt [Lt]: 1 Apr 1918, Capt: 1 Dec 1918, Flt Lt: 1 Aug 1919 [1 Apr 1918], Sqn Ldr:: 7 Nov 1928, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1935, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1939, Act A/Cdre: 21 May 1941, (T) A/Cdre: 1 Dec 1941, A/Cdre (WS): 1 Jun 1942,? Act AVM: 1 Jun 1943, (T) AVM: 1 Jun 1944, A/Cdre: 1 Dec 1944, AVM: 1 Oct 1946.

xx xxx 1914:           Soldier, South African Defence Force (Artillery). (East Africa)

 2 Oct 1915:            U/T Pilot, RNAS.

28 Dec 1915:          Pilot, No 8 Sqn, RNAS (East Africa)

24 Apr 1917:          Pilot, 3 Flt, 'B' Sqn, No 1 Wing RNAS, Dover

26 Sep 1917:           Pilot, RNAS Lee on Solent

10 Aug 1918:           Pilot, RAF Calshot

24 Jul 1919:             Staff, School of Naval Co-operation.

16 Sep 1919:           Awarded Short Service Commission (Aeroplane & Seaplane Branch) in the rank of Flight Lieutenant

28 Oct 1919:          Granted a Permanent Commission in the rank of Flight Lieutenant (effective from 1 Aug)

14 Nov 1919:          Announcement of SSC cancelled

26 Nov 1921:          Awaiting disposal, HQ RAF Iraq.

 1 Oct 1922:            Staff, HQ Basrah Group.

18 Oct 1924:           Refresher Flying Course?, No 24 Sqn.

16 Feb 1925:           Staff, No 4 Apprentice's Wing, RAF Cranwell.

19 Aug 1926:           Staff, No 4 Apprentice's Wing, RAF Halton

21 Jan 1929:            Attended RAF Staff College.

 7 Mar 1930:            Officer Commanding, No 20 Sqn. (Bristol F2B/Wapiti)

10 Nov 1932:           Staff, Aircraft Depot, India.

28 Mar 1935:           Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

19 Sep 1935:            Air Staff, HQ No 22 (Army Co-operation) Group.

11 Jan 1937:            Officer Commanding, No 50 (Army Co-operation) Wing.

24 Oct 1938:            Supernumerary, HQ No 6 (Auxiliary) Group.

 3 Apr 1939:            Supernumerary, HQ No 50 (Training) Group.

21 Apr 1939:            SASO, HQ Egypt Group.

23 Sep 1939:            Officer Commanding, Advance/No 253 Wing.

 9 Jun 1940:              SASO, No 202 Group?

25 Feb 1941:            Officer Commanding, AHQ Cyrenaica.

12 Apr 1941:            ?

 3 May 1941:           Officer Commanding, 'Iraq Relief Force'

21 May 1941:          AOC, HQ RAF in Palestine and Trans-Jordan.

 1 Dec 1941:            AOC, AHQ Levant.

xx xxx xxxx:              AO i/c Training, HQ Fighter Command?

10 Nov 1943:           AOC, No 84 Group.

xx xxx 1944:            Commandant, School of Land/Air Warfare.

Born in Pietermaritzburg in South Africa, he was educated at Hilton College in the Natal and the South African School of Mines.  He gained Royal Aero Club Certificate No 358 on 14 October 1915.

Appointed SASO of the recently formed Egypt Group, he soon had a more active role as commander of Advance Wing, Egypt Group.  This wing controlled the forward elements of Egypt Group which would eventually build up into the Desert Air Force.  The day before Italy declared war on Britain, however, the Wing was absorbed back into 202 Group (the renamed Egypt Group) when Air Commodore Collishaw moved his Group HQ forward to Maaten Bagush.  The highly fluid fighting of the western Desert led to another reorganisation in February 1941 when Collishaw moved his HQ back to Egypt leaving the forces in Cyrenaica under Brown’s command as AHQ Cyrenaica.

With the disbandment of AHQ Cyrenaica, he was put in command of a force tasked with defending the landing ground at Rutbah and prevent its use by the Germans to support the Iraqi forces attacking RAF Habbaniya.  He then took command  of the air forces to be used in support of British forces attacking Syria.   Syria at that time was controlled by Vichy France and the fear of the Germans using it to attack Iraq or the Middle East from the rear was sufficient to warrant it’s invasion.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Cross

“Flight Sub-Lieutenant Leslie O. Brown.

For bravery, zeal and ability shown in many long flights over enemy territory on reconnaissance work and bomb-dropping expeditions; was repeatedly under fire.”

(London Gazette – 15 June 1917)

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