Residents of the Formosa Garden were among hundreds of mourners who crowded into the central London church of St Clement Dane’s on May 25th for the funeral of Flight Sergeant Peter Brown, one of the last black “Pilots of the Caribbean”. He came over from Jamaica aged 17 in 1943 & went on to fly five operations in Lancaster bombers.
Peter was a familiar figure in the Maida Vale area, always smartly dressed & up for a chat with passers-by as he went to collect his paper from Dhigs Newsagents in Formosa Street every morning. Sadly he died alone at his home in Warrington Crescent last December at the age of 96 & with no known family appeared destined for a low-key funeral at a crematorium in South-West London. That was until an appeal by Westminster Council to trace his relatives went viral, sparking such an interest in his story that the decision was taken to switch the funeral to the RAF’s Central London Church with its seating for 600 people.
Military top brass & other representatives of the Armed Forces rubbed shoulders with members of the public, including six of Peter’s distant relatives who’d been traced back in Jamaica. Among the many friends & neighbours on Formosa Garden who attended were Hiten Patel & Jassi Taylor from Dhigs, who gave Peter much support in his declining years & even took him on occasion to medical appointments. Also present was Eleanor Abu-Sakr from Warrington Crescent who took this pictures from inside the Church.
She said: “It was an incredible ceremony but I did wonder what Peter would have made of it all. I imagine he would absolutely have hated the fuss but rather enjoyed it a bit, from afar!”
Another friend & neighbour, Paul Newman, described the funeral as “a lovely occasion” & added: “Peter is and will continue to be missed in our neighbourhood, but we could not have asked for a better send-off!!” Paul took this picture of Peter on his favourite bench at the top of Sutherland Avenue, and now there are plans afoot to dedicate it to him as a permanent memorial.