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Reginald Ellis Brown and Marie Leslie Jervis Brown

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posted on 2024-06-05, 16:39 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

The contributor's father, Reginald Ellis Brown, was born 28/08/1919. He married Marie Leslie Jervis Brown in 1938 in Worcester. He was a clerk in a district bank in Worcester.

The contributor brought his enlistment notice or 'call up papers', a smaller photograph of his call-up group, and his log book. He was MIA on 4/4/44; he was lost in a dinghy. He was sent to North Africa after Casablanca and ended up at Alexandria based in 'Idku'.

There were only two pilots in a plane; planes were used for torpedoes and night fighting.

The contributors brought photocopies of their father's operations record book. This is an official record, which records his 'failure to return to base'.

They also brought a photograph of No.4 flight No.2 squadron March 1941. Their father, Reginald Brown, is tenth from the left on the first row. Brown was Rad/Nav; Lacey was his pilot.

These are medals that were sent to the contributor's mother following the suspected death of their father in war. The medal gifted is the 'Italy Star', awarded for being present at battle in North Africa. Medals are considered as one of the commonly gifted awards to most soldiers.

The address on the box that the medals were sent in correlates to the participant living there around 1950, which was when his father was confirmed missing. He was presumed missing 04/04/1944.

This was a letter dated 26/06/1945 sent to the contributor's mother despatching his father's belongings to her post-war after his disappearance. A follow-up letter explains that she could collect belongings, but only if she brought 15 shillings to the customs office, a large sum of money at the time.

This letter is full of very cold language, with no sympathy at all, just details that she must bring a witness. A slip detailing contents of belongings is difficult to read, but a typed list also included. Much of what is detailed is likely army issued, e.g. clothing. All of this documentation, however, seems very bureaucratic with multiple legal documents.

This is a letter to Marie Brown, the contributor's mother, in response to her request for further searches/information about her husband's disappearance.

When soldiers were presumed missing, there was no way of knowing if they were killed or captured. The Red Cross could ask questions and travelled to islands in the Aegean sea (where he went missing) and searched prisoner of war camps.

The letter apologises for having no further information; it has a much more emotional tone that government/military issue letters. The letter details the allowance she received following his disappearance, which was less than she would have if he was officially pronounced dead and only for 26 weeks. The money was difficult to live on; the contributor had help from the bank to pay for school and uniform.

The contributor brought a telegram message informing their mother of her husband Reginald Ellis Brown's disappearance. They also brought a message from the Air Ministry explaining that their mother should not disclose any information about his disappearance to the press in case he was in a POW camp and it negatively affected his chances of escape.

The contributor was born in 1942 so remembers nothing and also notes that their mother did not speak about much of it. She was, in fact, so traumatised by the events that she could not visit Germany for many years.

The contributor has a recollection of a postman (who knew of Reginald's disappearance) very excitedly knocking with a postcard he thought was recent and thus implying Reginald's survival, but it was actually an older postcard that had been delayed.

This is a letter from the CO of No. 46 Squadron to the mother of the contributor, Marie Leslie Jervis Brown, sending their condolences for the loss of her husband, Reginald Ellis Brown. It details some of the personal attributes of Sergeant Brown's personality and his personal relationships with the squadron. This is much more emotional than other telegrams and letters from the RAF regarding the disappearance, with this letter being personally signed.

The contributor brought various commemorative documents relating to their father, Reginald Brown.

The royal commemoration of Sergeant Brown's service was sent to Marie Brown after the war ended via post. The certificates detail Sergeant Brown's inclusion on the Alamein Memorial in Egypt, including names of soldiers who fought in North Africa. The contributor intends to visit this memorial one day. The book, sent from the War Graves Commission, details war memorials worldwide and includes a photo of Alamein memorial.

They also brought a booklet detailing District Bank's (where he worked in Broad Street, Worcester) memorial in Manchester that Sgt. Brown was included on. This memorial was unveiled in 1951.

The contributor had a step father from very early on in his childhood, so was not shown much of his father's war legacy. However, he did own a small piece of aircraft windshield from a previous crash.

These are post-war ration books (1951-52, 1953-54) belonging to the contributor and their mother, Marie Brown. The pages are stamped by stores from which the rations which were collected: 'Beard's Stores'. The 1953-54 books were not fully used or filled in as rationing ended 1953. The books also included advice on what clothing you were entitled to. Later books had the name 'Walter' not 'Brown', which was Marie's new married name.

The contributor remembers post-war rationing; a 'treat' snack was a stick of rhubarb and an egg cup of sugar.

The contributor brought a box containing hundreds of letters sent between Marie and Sergeant Reginald Brown. These were written every day while he was away, both when stationed in UK and North Africa. Some are on official military letter paper, and are difficult to read as text is very small.

Some handwritten letters from Africa were censored by military staff before Marie received them. Words and phrases are cut out with scissors. Mainly, these are geographical locations: for instance 'if you get out your map of Africa, you'll find that it's on the [word removed] coast.' Some are also coloured in to censor. The contributor read and attempted to order the letters, although found it very emotional to read the correspondence.

These are postcards sent to the contributor by his father, Reginald Brown. Airmen had more time to write than infantry who were on the move.

Some cards show whimsical cartoons, while some show North African villages and people. The contributor noted that some of the messages are not very politically correct by today's standards, negatively describing African villages. The messages send jokes to contributor: 'this is a Christmas card on your birthday to Celebrate Easter'. The cards are stamped, 'RAF censor', showing that they made it through the censor.

The language used in messages very loving: "hello beautiful - signing off Pop." The dates on the cards indicate that they were sent about once a week. One card says 'thanks for your letter' despite the participant only having been 2 at the time; it was a morale boosting exercise.


Item list and details

1. Log book 2. Enlistment notice 3. Photo 4. Marriage certificate of Reginald and Marie Brown 5. Operations record book 6. Photograph of No.4 flight No.2 squadron, March 1941 7. Medals awarded to Reginald Ellis Brown 8. Letter detailing belongings release 9. Slip detailing contents of belongings 10. Letter from the Red Cross about disappearance of Reginald Ellis Brown 11. Information about RAF allowance 12. Telegram and RAF messages 13. Letter from CO of 46 squadron offering condolences 14. Royal commemoration of Sgt. Brown's service 15. Certificates recording inclusion on Alamein memorial 16. Booklet regarding District Bank's memorial 17. Ration books 18. Letters sent between Reginald Ellis Brown and Marie Leslie Brown 19. Postcards sent by Reginald Ellis Brown to his son, John Brown

Person the story/items relate to

Reginald Ellis Brown and Marie Leslie Jervis Brown

Person who shared the story/items

John Brown

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Father and mother

Type of submission

Shared at RGS Worcester Perrins Hall, Worcestershire on 16 June 2023.

Record ID

92382 | WOR008-1