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Air Commodore C B Brown (109525)

Cyril Bob                     b: 17 Jan 1921                        r: 17 Jan 1972                        d: 1 Nov 2003

CBE 1 Jan 1969, AFC 1 Jan 1946.

(RAFVR): Plt Off: 11 Oct 1941, Fg Off (WS): 11 Oct 1942, Flt Lt (WS): 11 Oct 1943, Act Sqn Ldr: xx xxx xxxx

(RAF): Flt Lt: 15 Aug 1946 [1 Sep 1945], Sqn Ldr: 1 Jul 1950, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul, 1956, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1960, Act A/Cdre: 10 Jun 1966, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1967.

xx May 1939:               ACH u/t Pilot, No 34 E & RFTS, Rochford (745065)

xx xxx 1939:                Sergeant Pilot, RAFVR

xx Sep 1939:                U/T Pilot, No 11 FTS

xx xxx xxxx:                 U/T Pilot, RAF College FTS

xx xxx 1940:                Attended, No 5 OTU, RAF Aston Down

 4 Oct 1940:                Advanced training, No 245 Sqn.

13 Nov 1940:              Pilot, No 253 Sqn.

11 Oct 1941:               Appointed to a Commission in the GD Branch, RAFVR

xx xxx 1942:                Pilot, No 616 Sqn.

25 May 1942:              Recuperating

xx xxx 1942:                Pilot, No 532 Sqn.

xx xxx 1943:                 Test Pilot/Flight Commander, Fixed Gun Firing Flight, A & A E E.

xx xxx 1945:                  Attended No 5 Course, Empire Test Pilots School

xx xxx 1946:                  Test Pilot, A & A E E.

15 Aug 1946:               Appointed to an Extended Service Commission (4 years) in the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

xx Mar 1956:                Tutor, Empire Test Pilots School.

15 Jun 1948:                Appointed to a Permanent Commission in the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

14 Aug 1950:               Personnel Staff, HQ Middle East Air Force.

xx Nov 1954:               Officer Commanding, No 220 Sqn. (Shackleton MR1A/2)

xx Mar 1956:               Senior Instructor, Empire Test Pilots School.

xx xxx 1958:                Officer Commanding, 'D' (Helicopter) Squadron, A & A E E.

25 Jun 1959:                Staff Officer, Ministry of Supply.

 2 Aug 1960:                Director of Operational Training.

15 Jul 1963:                 Officer Commanding, RAF Waddington.

13 Dec 1965:              Group Captain - Plans, HQ Bomber Command.

10 Jun 1966:                AOC/Commandant, College of Air Warfare.

3 Mar 1969:                Director of Flight Safety.

He acquired the nicknamed 'Cyclops' after losing an eye whilst attacking a German Dornier 217 on 25 May 1942.  During the encounter his windscreen was hit by return fire from the Dornier and fragments of it damaged his right eye, but he was able to return to base and report to the Station Commander, before collapsing.  As he was taken down the stairs on a stretcher, he fell off and rolled down the stairs, an ordeal, which he later described as the most frightening part of the whole event.  He lost the eye and had a glass one fitted but as the colour of the false one usually failed to match the colour of his good eye after a party, he often removed it and covered the empty socket with an eye patch, which he eventually took to wearing all the time.

Joining the RAFVR prior to World War Two, he joined his first squadron, No 245, based in the Orkneys, just as the Battle of Britain was coming to an end.  In later 1941, he was commissioned and joined No 616 Squadron, in the Midlands and it was here that he had the encounter described above.  Although attempts were made to ground him, he was able to prove to his Station Commander that he was still capable and was allowed to continue flying.

He next joined the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment as a test pilot and owing to his lack of binocular vision, he undertook weapons testing on the ground attack Typhoon and Tempests.  He once shot himself down when the rocket he had just fired, richocheted up and hit his Typhoon.  After three years at Boscombe Down, he attended No 5 Course at the co-located Empire Test Pilots School after which he once again returned to test flying.

In 1954, he assumed command of No 220 Squadron at St Eval, equipped with Shackletons before going back to test flying as the Senior Instructor at ETPS in 1956.  Two years later he took command of the Helicopter Squadron of the A & A E E and in 1960, established a long distance helcopter record in the Belvedere twin rotor helicopter. They set off from Gatwick and landed in Malta 12 hours later, stopping twice en-route to refuel and setting a record that stands to this day.

Following a spell in the Air Ministry as Director of Operation Training, he took command of the V-bomber base at Waddington in 1963.  It was whilst at Waddington, he heard that the last airworthy Lancaster was to be retired to a museum and he decided to collect it from Cranfield and to fly it to Waddington where it would be kept in flying condition.  Although, this was frowned upon by higher authority, he was allowed to go ahead and as a result PA474 still graces the skies as the flagship of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

A another period as a staff officer at Bomber Command was followed by command of the Air Warfare College and finally he became Director of Flight Safety in 1969.  Retiring in 1972 at his own request, to follow business interests, which included managing director of Leigh Instruments. He was a keen yachtsman and was appointed Commodore of the RAF Yacht Club in 1972, and Admiral of the Club in 1992. 

Citation for the award of the Air Force Cross.

BROWN, Cyril Bob, A/S/L (109525, RAFVR) - Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment - Air Force Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 1 January 1946. Citation drafted when he had flown 1,622 hours, 725 on current duties, 142 in previous six months.

"This officer has completed more than two years continuous duty on armament testing. Despite the loss of sight in one eye as a result of injury sustained in aerial combat against the enemy, Squadron Leader Brown has shown outstanding ability and keenness in his duties.  He has on many occasions tested dangerous and experimental installations and ammunition which have never previously been used in the air. When important demonstrations have been arranged for senior officials, on the success of which has depended the adoption of the experimental item for operational use, Squadron Leader Brown has invariably been selected as demonstrator.  There have been many changes in the pilots of the Armament Testing Squadron, To new-comers, Squadron Leader Brown has set a fine example and given excellent instruction."

(Source - Air 2/9144)

This page was last updated on 01/02/24

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