Peter Brown’s funeral was held at St Clements Danes Church in London today (Picture: PA/Getty)
Hundreds of people came together for the funeral of one of the last black RAF pilots to have fought in the Second World War.
Flight Sergeant Peter Brown died alone at his home in Maida Vale, north-west London in December last year.
The 96-year-old was due to have a modest funeral at a 140-capacity chapel in Mortlake, south-west London in March but a council appeal to trace his relatives led to many more people wanting to pay their respects.
His service took place today at St Clement Danes Church on The Strand, the central church of the RAF, which can seat 600 mourners.
The original appeal had been picked up by historians, military researchers, genealogists, community groups and the media, some of whom helped find a relative of Mr Brown’s in Kingston, Jamaica.
The relative, Brooke Alexander, travelled 4,000 miles to attend the funeral.
Other mourners included representatives from Caribbean organisations and those who helped find Mr Brown’s family, as well as celebrities including actor Colin McFarlane.
Mr Brown during his time in the RAF (Picture: Leon McGowran)
Mr Brown in later years (Picture: PA)
Mr Brown, who was born in Jamaica in 1926, joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve in September 1943 and became one of the so-called ‘Pilots of the Caribbean’, carrying out missions as a radio operator and gunner.
When the war came to an end, he re-enlisted in the RAF and worked as a signaller before leaving the forces.
Westminster City Council leader Adam Hug said: ‘The national response to Peter Brown’s story has been overwhelming.
Mr Brown’s coffin being carried into the service (Picture: PA)
Hundreds of people attended the funeral (Picture: PA)
Mr Brown was a flight sergeant in the RAF during the Second World War (Picture: Getty Images Europe)
Flag bearers at Mr Brown’s funeral (Picture: Getty Images Europe)
‘The details of his life and subsequent search for relatives have truly captured the public imagination and moved people around the world.
‘Our priority has always been to ensure Mr Brown receives a fitting, dignified send-off which allows those wishing to pay their respects the opportunity to do so.
‘We are grateful to the RAF who have stepped in and provided a perfect venue to reflect Peter’s military service.
‘We will continue to work with the RAF, community groups and well-wishers to ensure the service represents the many aspects of Mr Brown’s life.’
An RAF spokesperson said: ‘Flight Sergeant Brown is an example of the selfless contribution of all Commonwealth personnel who have served throughout the RAF’s history.
‘We should never forget their sacrifices which have defended our freedom and kept us safe.’
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He was due to have a low-key funeral but an appeal to trace his family went viral.