A Headstone for Captain Roy Brown, DSC

Story and photos by John Chalmers
CAHS Membership Secretary

HeadstoneA century after flying for Canada in the First World War, Captain Arthur Roy Brown is now honoured with a proper headstone.

Born in Carleton Place ON in 1893, Brown learned to fly at the Wright School of Aviation in Dayton, Ohio in 1915. He then joined the Royal Naval Air Service and flew as a fighter pilot in the war. On April 1, 1918, the RNAS combined with the Royal Flying Corps to form the Royal Air Force.

Twenty days later, as an RAF Captain and a squadron commander for 209 Squadron flying a Sopwith Camel, Brown was engaged in the aerial battle with Manfred von Richthofen, the “Red Baron” at the controls of his red Fokker triplane.

Brown fired on von Richthofen, who was in pursuit of Brown’s squadron mate, Wilfrid “Wop” May, with whom Brown had attended Victoria High School in Edmonton in 1913-15. Generally recognized as bringing down von Richthofen, Brown continued in aviation after the war. He formed General Airways Limited, which operated through the Depression years. He spent his last few years operating a farm near Stouffville ON, and died there in 1944.

02 Grave marker 300In 1955, Roy Brown’s remains were removed from the cemetery at Aurora, Ontario, cremated and taken to the Necropolis Cemetery, located in Toronto, placed in an unmarked grave, identified by only a small marker bearing the number 60A. Thanks to the efforts of the Roy Brown Society of Carleton Place and the purchase of a plot and a headstone by the Last Post Fund, Brown is now remembered with a military-style headstone at the cemetery.

03 Carol and Rob 575

Carol Nicholson, a niece of Roy Brown, and Rob Probert, president of the Roy Brown Society, were among the speakers at the dedication ceremony at the Necropolis Cemetery on June 30, 2016

Nadine CarterWith some 50 people present, dedication of the headstone was attended by members of the Brown family, the Roy Brown Society and officials of the Last Post Fund. Others included former military officers, representatives of the Royal Canadian Military Institute and the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. I was given the opportunity to speak on behalf of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, in my capacity as CAHF Historian. Captain Roy Brown was installed as a Member of the Hall in June 2015.

Above, Nadine Carter in her army cadet uniform, paid tribute to Roy Brown at the headstone dedication.

Interest in obtaining appropriate recognition and a proper memorial for Brown is the result of work by the Roy Brown Society, based in Carleton Place. As well, the efforts of Nadine Carter of Stouffville, now 12, have done much to raise awareness of Brown's place in Canadian aviation history. For two years she has done much to raise the profile of Roy Brown.

Nadine and JohnAt left, historians of different generations, Nadine Carter and John Chalmers, delved into the history of Captain Roy Brown and the search for his mortal remains, when their location was not known by members of the Brown family. Eventually when the location was identified as the Necropolis Cemetery in Toronto, work by Nadine and the Roy Brown Society led to the placement of a headstone by the Last Post fund.

Seen below at the Royal Canadian Military Institute in Toronto are Nadine and John with the seat from Baron Manfred von Richthofen’s triplane from the aerial battle of April 21, 1918.

Red Baron's seat

07 Plaque unveiling 575

During the Strawberry Festival celebrations on Canada Day, July 1 at Stouffville ON two plaques were unveiled to remember Captain Arthur Roy Brown. At left are Brown’s granddaughter, Dianne Sample and a niece, Carol Nicholson. At right is Nadine Carter, who became interested in Roy Brown at age 10 and began her work in seeking recognition for him. One plaque is now installed in Stouffville. The other is placed at the nearby Rolling Hills Golf Club, located on land that was once the Browns’ farm.

08 Nadine and parents 575

Proud parents Dave and Chantal Carter, whose youngest of four daughters, Nadine, had the honour of unveiling a plaque to ace fighter pilot Roy Brown. He was credited with a dozen victories in the First World War, and was twice decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross.

09 Brown house 575

The house from which Roy and Edythe Brown operated their farm near Stouffville from 1940 until Roy’s death in 1944 at the age of 50. Edythe continued to operate the farm for the next 20 years. Located next to the clubhouse at the Rolling Hills Golf Club, the house is still in use today, occupied by a staff member of the club.

For more info about Capt Roy Brown and to see a video, visit the Hall of Fame web site at and click on the Members button.