8x12 inch photo signed by Ron Brown of 75 (New Zealand) Squadron RAF Bomber Command. He has written a book about his life in the RAF during the second world war. He believes he may have had a hand in the disappearance of Glenn Miller. Ron Brown's book is called 'Per Ardua Ad Astra', which is an RAF motto meaning 'Through Difficulties to the Stars'. It charts his time in the air force during the war years. Ron's story is full of the tragedies of WWII but there's also the more heartwarming moments including tales about the characters he served with and the consequent camaraderie.
Ron was going to be John Lamond's best man at his wedding. Tragically, John and his crew were killed when a German night fighter shot at his Lancaster Bomber during a training exercise, it exploded in front of Ron's eyes. He says:
"It was a pretty grim initiation. You realised that now we're at war and it's a dangerous business."
The horrors of the war were eased by the people Ron served with. He had a particular affection for a pilot who was a big hit with the ladies. Ron says:
"He had this strange fetish that he always flew with a pair of ladies knickers around his collar... he always used to flaunt them after a night's success.
"He considered them as trophies... his locker was like a lingerie stockroom!"
Before Ron enlisted in the RAF, he was an apprentice typewriter mechanic in Mansfield. His experience turned out to be useful when a strange contraption was discovered in North Africa. It turned out to be one of Germany's legendary Enigma coding machines. He says:
"They showed me this machine which was nothing like a typewriter. It had dropped off a lorry in the western desert and they asked if I could get it working."
After weeks of straightening out wheels, and bashing bits into place, Ron got it to work. He got a promotion for his efforts.
To this day Ron isn't sure whether he and his crew had anything to do with Glenn Miller's disappearance in 1944.
The American band leader left Bedford in his Norseman plane heading for Paris, never to be seen again.
Around the same time Ron and his crew were jettisoning unused bombs over the North Sea after an aborted mission. Some believe this could be the way Miller lost his life.
Years later when Ron was living in Florida, Ron was 'affectionately' known as the "English guy who killed Glenn Miller!".
Glenn Miller incident bomber pilot Ron Brown signed photo
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