Arthur Whitten Brown
Arthur Whitten Brown was navigator of the first ever non-stop flight across the Atlantic ocean. The flight took place in an adapted First world war Vickers Vimy, bomber aircraft on 14th June 1919 piloted by John Alcock. Arthur was born in Glasgow 23rd June 1886 the son of American parents. Before the outbreak of WW1 he was an apprentice engineer at Westinghouse, Manchester. At the outbreak of the war in 1914, he took out British citizenship and enlisted in the ranks of the University and Public Schools Brigade, Manchester Regiment. While serving in France he was seconded to No 2 Squadron Royal Air Corps as an observer. Arthur was shot down twice, the first time at Vendin-le-Vieil France, and the second time near Bapaume. On the 10th November 1915, he was captured with his pilot Lt. H.W.Medlicott by the Germans while on a reconnaissance flight. Arthur Whitten Brown was repatriated in September 1917 and went to work with the RAF Ministry of Munitions under the command of Major Kennedy. Arthur married one of Major Kennedy’s daughters and together they had one son Buster. While taking up a post with Vickers he was asked to be the navigator on the proposed first transatlantic flight, accompanying John Alcock. The flight took place on 14th June 1919 in an adapted Vickers Vimy bomber with the aircraft leaving from St John’s Newfoundland at 1.45 pm local time. After flying over 1,980 miles (3,168 km) the plane landed in Derrygila bog, Ireland, 16 hours and 12 minutes later. Both Alcock and Brown received from King George V their insignia, Knights of the Order of the British Empire. Arthur worked for the Metropolitan-Vickers and in 1923 was appointed chief representative for the Swansea and South Wales region. His offices were on the corner of St Mary’s Street and Wind Street. During the second world war he served in the home guard an a Lieutenant-Colonel. He resigned his commission in July 1941 and rejoined the RAF as a pilot and navigation officer training recruits. During his time there he founded the 215 Squadron, Air training Corps. Sadly, sometime between on 5th and 6th July 1941 Buster, Arthur’s only son was killed in the Netherlands while serving as a Flight Lieutenant with 625 Squadron RAF. After the war Arthur was not in good heath but he remained as General Manager for Metropolitan-Vickers in Swansea until his death. He died at his home in Belgrave Court, Uplands Swansea on 4th October 1948 after taking an accidental overdose of the sleeping pill Veronal at the age of 62. Sir Arthur Whitten Brown’s ashes are interred at St Margaret Churchyard, Tyler’s Green.