Alan Coatsworth Brown OBE DSO DFC CdeG was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and educated there.
In October 1934, Brown was appointed as an Acting Pilot Officer with the Royal Air Force (RAF). By the time WW 2 broke out in 1939, Brown was a pilot, holding the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
Early in 1940, Brown was posted to No. 53 Squadron, Bomber Command. For Bomber Command air crew, there was a low probability of surviving and returning safely, from all of their tour of 30 missions over enemy held Europe. Over 60 per cent of air crew who began a tour of 30 missions would lose their lives before completing the 30 missions.
Regardless of the terrible odds, bomber crews buckled on their parachutes and began each mission with determination. They fell prey to the hazards of fog, icing and lightning, and they perished amongst the bursting shells of anti-aircraft guns.
However, the greatest number died in the desperately unequal combat and the overwhelming firepower of tenacious German night fighter defenders. Over 9,900 Canadians in Bomber Command air crew, sacrificed their lives fighting dictatorship and autocracy.
On each bombing mission there were many who crashed after being hit by flak or enemy fighter action. Some airmen survived the crashes, others were rescued at sea, and some were taken prisoner.
A great many of those who died never had a chance to bail out. They perished when their aircraft loaded with 11 tons of explosives and high octane gas either exploded in the air or on impact with the ground. Others were killed when they plumetted 6 to 8 kilometres to the ground after their parachutes caught fire from their burning aircraft.
Brown was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in recognition of his skill and gallantry during a critically important reconnaissance over heavily defended enemy occupied territory. His citation reads as follows:
"On May 13, 1940, this officer as the pilot of an aircraft carried out an important and successful reconnaissance over strongly defended enemy areas. In spite of intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire which resulted in his aircraft being severely damaged and his rear gunner being wounded, he continued the reconnaissance.
His personal disregard of danger, his determination, and his skill in the handling of his damaged aircraft were largely responsible for this reconnaissance which obtained valuable information."
In January 1942, Brown took command of No. 407 Squadron, Bomber Command and personally took part in 19 dangerous and risky bombing missions against heavily defended targets such as Bremen. Brown beat the odds and survived his 19 dangerous and risky bombing missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).
France decorated Brown with the Croix de Guerre with Palme and Belgium awarded him with the Order of Leopold with Palme.