Canadian History for Kids!

Canadian History for Kids: Roy Brown

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One and Canadian History for Kids have assembled 31 remarkable stories about incredible people, places and events which helped shape our amazing nation.

There are many significant stories to be told about the ‘war to end all wars’.

A grateful nation never forgets a hero.

Roy Brown was born on 23 December 1893 in Carleton Place, Ontario. Following his high school education he studied at business school in order to take his place running the family businesses, a flour mill and power company

Brown enlisted in 1915 as an Officer Cadet at the Army Officers’ Training Corps. Even at this early stage Brown was fascinated by the aerial war; it was a more attractive draw than trench warfare.

Although Brown expressed interest in joining the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), his father was quite concerned with the high casualty rate for RFC pilots, and this Canadian History for kids almost didn’t happen as he denied Brown’s request for elementary flying school lessons. Service with the Royal Naval Air Service was seen as a potentially safer opportunity, since these airmen were less likely to take on combat missions, instead flying coastal patrols for much of the time.

This Canadian History for Kids story continues on 13 November 1915 when Brown emerged from training with his pilot’s certificate after just six hours air time. Brown set sail for England on 22 November 1915 and upon his arrival Brown underwent further training at Chingford.
On 6 October 1917 Brown was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in recognition of his aerial success and in particular for coming to the aid of a lone allied pilot under fire from four German Albatrosses.

The most famous aerial battle of the war happened on the morning of 21 April 1918, and this Canadian History for Kids article is going to tell you all about it! While on patrol Brown became engaged in combat with German pilots led by Manfred von Richthofen, the “Red Baron”. A newcomer to the squadron, Wop May, had been instructed to stay clear of any fight and watch. May noticed an enemy pilot doing the same thing. That pilot was the Red Baron’s cousin, Lt. Wolfram von Richthofen, who had been given the same instructions as May. May attacked Wolfram and soon found himself in the main fight, firing at several fleeting targets until his guns jammed. May dived out of the fight, and Manfred von Richthofen gave chase down to ground level. Brown saw May in trouble and dived steeply in an attempt to rescue his friend.

What happened next remains controversial to this day. Brown fired away at the Red Baron, as did Australian Army machine gunners on the ground. The Red Baron eventually crashed near the Australian trenches.

Upon viewing Richthofen’s body the following day, Brown wrote that “there was a lump in my throat. If he had been my dearest friend, I could not have felt greater sorrow”. The RAF credited Brown officially with the kill, shortly after receiving a Bar to his DSC, at least partly in recognition of this feat.

This Canadian History for Kids article continues as Brown left the RAF in 1919 and returned to Canada where he worked as an accountant. He also founded a small airline and worked for a while as editor of Canadian Aviation. He died on 9 March 1944, of a heart attack, in Ontario. He was 50 years old.

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