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Leading Aircraftman Richard BROWN, Aircraft Fitter 2 Eng, was born in Jarrow in March 1919 and his nearly seven years of RAF service demonstrates a fine example that there were many GROUNDCREW TECHNICIANS in forward areas, who would in actual fact be bombed and strafed many times in forward airfields and areas in both Britain and Europe.
He was working with Reyrolle-Parsons on heavy electrical engineering plant in Jarrow before being called up under the Hore-Belisha MILITIA SCHEME for his six months’ military training, his own from Spring 1939, which was Cardington basic training, followed by further aero engine training at Locking and later on to Fitter 2 engines at Halton. Beyond on his first two weeks at MANSTON he was under attack before being posted up to join 43(F) Squadron HURRICANES at Wick in Spring 1940 ahead of.its return to TANGMERE on 31st May to experience that intensive Battle of Britain period of those many attacks on Tangmere including the heavy Friday 15th August JU-87 Stuka dive bombing, while ensuring the maximum fighters were available to defend SE England – some groundcrew had been flown down from Wick in two Ensigns but already only via a western safer route.
In winter 1940 Richard was sent on a Bristol Hercules sleeve valve engines course and would spend a couple of years working on and again flying on tests the RAF’s first four engine Short STIRLING bombers.on No.7 Squadron at OAKINGTON. Moving to No. 84 OTU at Desborough near Kettering, he would be working on and again flying testing flights on WELLINGTON, WARWICK, LUSANDER and a range of other aircraft, sometimes on drogue gunnery training for air gunners, and also frequently detached to close by and other OTU airfields. With preparation for D-Day he was at 11 OTU working on TEMPESTS and TYPHOONS before moving to his specialist REPAIR and SALVAGE UNIT and on to NORMANDY on D+8 and staying with this busy and very mobile unit, sharing work with some Canadians in the team too, ranging widely and often well forward to repair and recover aircraft of all types, finishing up at LUBECK.
He would witness early on the fine contribution of Maj Gen “Pete” Quesada and AM Broadhurst in further developing tactical air-ground warfare during the European campaign with microwave early warning radar (MEW) direction of ‘cab rank’ fighter bombers already airborne and close by, and placing pilots as forward air controllers inside tanks equipped with much improved VHF aircraft radios on the front lines, allowing much better, faster and safer ground target identification and more precision. These improved procedures enhanced the delivery of tactical airpower and accelerated the Allied progress on the Western Front.
Richard would return to Desborough and Cardington for demobilisation in early 1946 and return to his native Jarrow and similar post-war work in heavy electrical plant for the railways and mining.