ANTHONY T. C. BROWN
Lieutenant Colonel | Infantry
The war in Korea was at a stalemate when Captain Brown arrived and reminiscent of his father’s war with static trenches, volatile spats over bits of decimated land, and domination by artillery. The nature of men and battle had not evolved, but technology had certainly affected the way in which the war was fought. The United States and allied air forces dominated the skies over Korea without question – there was very little aerial opposition and the Chinese were hesitant to fire anti-aircraft for fear of the retaliating bombardment that would follow once spotted.
Captain Brown was spared much of the dangerous forward action and granted the opportunity to work primarily as a liaison pilot for VIPs and other dignitaries. His duties satisfied upper echelon wishes for such a task, but Captain Downward strived to keep his newly formed 1913 Flight away from such staff activities and focus on the unique abilities his pilots could offer including aerial reconnaissance and communication. With the Royal Artillery in country was the 1903 Flight, but they strictly limited their duties to observation and spotting and Downward hoped to expand the aerial talent within the Commonwealth Division.
Together, Downward and Brown built up 1913 Flight at Middle Wallop in 1951 and soon after were in Korea at the end of the year. Within a few days, the commanding general of the Division requested an Auster from 1913 Flight that his Canadian ADC could use to fly him to Corps or Army Headquarters. Downward reluctantly loaned the aircraft which was clearly a tight fit for the General and though the pair made it to their destination safely, the return trip resulted in the craft being written off and necessitating a replacement. Fortunately, I Corps commander Lieutenant General O’Daniel graciously offered one of the American L19s to the Flight assuming Downward could find a pilot for the craft. The Flight commander quickly turned to his number two, Captain Brown for this unique task.
The process of adopting this new craft was simple enough as the U.S. Army stars were painted over with RAF roundels and ‘Cessna 754’ appeared on all paperwork and unit records, but as months and ultimately years passed, the plane became a curiosity and was questioned eight years later by the British Embassy Washington as a ‘missing’ Army aircraft with inexplicable RAF insignia. There was great demand from the pilots to test the new toy, including many inquiries from the sister 1903 Flight, but the L19 was strictly reserved for Tony Brown who was soon occupied with ferrying staff and general officers, ultimately logging hundreds of flight hours.
As Downwards second in command, Captain Brown was tasked with much of the unit administration in addition to his duties as pilot. He was highly dependable and frequently ran the Flight in Downward’s absence. For his Korean tour he was mentioned in dispatches, an honor which no other Gordon Highlander could claim in the Korean theater.
On returning to his own regiment in Malaya, Brown was posted as second in command of A Company and reunited with his brother Derek after a few years apart. The two were sons of a distinguished character of the regiment, Brigadier General P. W. Brown who served in the South African War and later commanded both 1st and 2d Battalions in the First World War. Both sons followed their father into the Gordons, Tony first in late 1943 and Derek at the end of the war. The regiment was not Tony’s only likeness to his father, as he had a striking resemblance to the man and had inherited his quickly receding hairline, the remainder of which he did not wish to give up and sported a similar full moustache.
Living in the jungle was possibly the most uncomfortable environment Tony had experienced yet – as a glider pilot in Europe he was subjected to the harsh life of combat, Korea brought weather in extremes, but the jungle was simply rotten. The dense jungle clung on to moisture and in the periods without rain, the Gordons were still completely soaked from perspiration and oppressive humidity. Patrolling into the jungle brought men into a dark world that became impossibly darker after sunset.
After Malaya, Tony stayed with the Gordons for their time in Cyprus and later in East Africa where he was appointed from second in command of HQ Company to B Company commander in the shuffle that ensued after the company postings to Zanzibar. Ultimately, he came to be second in command of the regiment in the last decade of his career, during which time his brother Derek superseded him as commander. As it had been during his tour in Korea, however, the responsibilities of the second in command are frequently what keep a unit running most efficiently and a commander is most dependent on the dependability of his number two.
De Lee, Nigel. “DOWNWARD, PETER ALDCROFT (ORAL HISTORY).” Imperial War Museums, 22 Nov. 1985, www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80008945.
Mackowiak, Robert C, and Mark Meaton / 656 Squadron Association. “A T C Brown” 14 April 2020.
Major J. M. H. Hailes. “AIR O.P. IN KOREA IN A STATIC WAR.” Journal of the Royal Artillery, LXXXI, no. 3, July 1954, pp. 185–190.
The Life of a Regiment: History of the Gordon Highlanders. Vol. 6. 1974. Print.
The Tiger and Sphinx, Regimental Journal of the Gordon Highlanders, 1953-1960.