22 December 2008

RIP: Air Cdre Peter M. Brothers CBE

Peter Malam Brothers CBE DSO DFC*
30 Sep 1917 – 18 Dec 2008

ZUI this article from The Telegraph:
Air Commodore Pete Brothers, who has died aged 91, flew throughout the Battle of Britain and was one of the RAF's most distinguished fighter pilots, credited with destroying at least 16 enemy aircraft.

Brothers was a flight commander on No 32 Squadron and had been blooded in May 1940 during the hectic, and often chaotic, fighting during the Battle of France, when he downed two enemy fighters.

As the Battle of Britain opened in July 1940, the squadron was operating Hurricanes from Biggin Hill and was soon involved in furious fighting. Flying three, sometimes four, times a day, Brothers shot down seven fighters and a bomber over Kent before the end of August.

On one occasion he returned home after a particularly difficult day to learn from his wife that a bomb splinter had come through an open window and shattered the mirror as she was applying her make-up. Years later he observed: "It was then that I decided the war had become personal."


Peter Malam Brothers was born at Prestwich on September 30 1917 and educated at North Manchester School, a branch of Manchester Grammar School. When he was 16, and still at school, he learnt to fly at the Lancashire Aero Club and gained his civil pilot's "A" licence. He joined the RAF in 1936, trained as a pilot and joined No 32 Squadron at the end of the year to fly [Gloster] Gauntlet biplane fighters. He was to remain with the squadron for four years.

After the Battle of Britain, Brothers trained as a flying instructor and on promotion to squadron leader formed and commanded No 457 (RAAF) Squadron, flying Spitfires. On March 26 1942 he shot down a Messerschmitt Bf 109, and a month later probably downed another enemy fighter. In June he was given command of No 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron, leading it during the ill-fated Dieppe raid in August. His pilots destroyed five enemy aircraft and he himself claimed a fighter. One of his pilots was forced to bail out over the sea, and Brothers orbited his dinghy until rescue arrived.


After taking a staff course in the United States, Brothers served at the Central Fighter Establishment. Despite his outstanding war record, he was not offered a permanent commission in the peacetime RAF, and in 1947 he left to join the Colonial Service. Two years as a district officer in Kenya, however, convinced him that this was not the life he wanted, and in 1949 he rejoined the RAF.

To his surprise, Brothers was posted to command a Lincoln bomber squadron, No 57. He flew operations during the Malayan Emergency, his being the first bomber squadron to participate in the campaign.


An inveterate cigar smoker and a connoisseur of malt whisky, Brothers was a keen golfer, sailor and fisherman, and a great raconteur.

Pete Brothers died on December 18. He married, in 1939, Annette Wilson, who died in 2005. Their two daughters survive him.

Brothers received the DFC in 1940, a bar thereto in 1943, and the DSO in 1944. He was appointed CBE in 1964.

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