Wartime flier Gordon was from Halifax

Gordon Brown, director of Halifax RLFC in the 1970s.
Gordon Brown, director of Halifax RLFC in the 1970s.

The hunt for gunner Gordon Brown seems to have paid off. It is almost certain now that the Gordon Brown of Halifax featured in Nostalgia last month is the man who flew in Lancaster bombers during the second world war.

We launched a search for Gordon after being contacted by a film company which was trying to contact the families of all the crew who flew with veteran flier Percy Cannings.

It was urgent because the company wanted to find Gordon’s family before a screening of Percy’s film – shot by his daughter, Sharon Cannings –on September 11, accompanied by a Lancaster flypast.

It was thought that the Gordon Brown in question might also be a Gordon Brown who lived in Halifax and was a director of Halifax RLFC in the 1970s.

Confirmation has come from Helen Brown, Gordon’s daughter-in-law, who lives in Northampton, backed up by the Lincoln film company Ermine Street Project.

Helen writes: “I am Gordon’s daughter-in-law, married to his late son, Andrew, who died in 1990, and confirm that all the details in the Courier article are correct. Gordon did die, of cancer, in 1993.

“He flew in Lancasters and I believe he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal, although this appeared to have meant more to Andrew than to Gordon himself and I understand he sold his medals after Andrew’s death.

“Gordon’s family did live at Stump Cross. Andrew used to point the house out to me as his grandma’s. He did play rugby league professionally but I understand that the war coincided with his signing forms.

“In civilian life he became a company accountant for Turner and Newall (I think) in Bradford. He married Nancy, who was in the WRAF, while the war was still on, as far as I know.”

Gordon Brown’s identity will not be known for certain until records are checked at RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire, which will take some time.

But film maker Sharon Cannings said: “All the evidence points to it being him. We are 98 per cent certain now.” And Helen Brown has been invited to attend the screening of Percy’s film next week.