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David Berry

I will now demonstrate how my brain is full of useless information, using up space that could be more usefully employed!

Bob Brownlow came to the Britannia fleet, from Argosys, around 1971/72. He was in the unenviable position of being a newly promoted Squadron Leader and thus went straight into the left hand seat. After a relatively short time on 99 he was posted to the OCU as the Britannia section's Flight Commander - another unenviable position, being in charge of a group of old Britannia hairies? I know little of his subsequent career except that he held a Wing Commander post at Brize - where he was addicted to fruit machines!!

The Brownlow, who is an Association member, was Wg Cdr Ops at Lyneham - 1967/68? Rather irreverently, we Squadron chaps called him Brown Commander Winglow! He went on to greater things, ending his RAF career in the rank of Air Commodore, as the Commandant of A&AEE, Boscombe Down.

Not many people know all that!

Ian S Partridge

As a PS to my last, Bob died on May 6th, and I have phoned his widow Veronica on the number given in RAF News (which I missed on my first reading). I have expressed condolences on the Association's behalf, for which she was very grateful.

If anyone wants her number, she has given me permission to provide it - just email me and I can let you know.


Ian S Partridge

I see the current RAF News has a notice of the death of Group Captain Bob Brownlow, It mentioned he flew, among other types, Britannias and VC10s.

He doesn't come to mind for me, but we do have an R P Brownlow in our Association membership.
Does anyone have any memories they can share?


John Hunting

Signed, 30th Ann. formation of 511 Sqn cover is available on eBay - via this link.
Regards to all from the sunny Moray Firth.

Ian S Partridge

More sad news, I'm afraid.

Ruby Marshall has written from Australia informing us of the death of her husband Sydney John Marshall, Association member number 664.

Eric Healey, who received the letter, has no knowledge of him, and neither do I. However, I shall be writing to Ruby on the Association's behalf. Please hold her in your thoughts and prayers.

If anyone can add to people's memories of him, please feel free to share your thoughts. If you would like Ruby's address, please contact me by email.

Ian S Partridge

Quick off the mark as always, David, with the info on Britannia names. I must admit that I didn't know about Argo (should have read your book more closely!).

As an aside, people often ask me why we gave our house the name 'Altair', usually not knowing it is a star. The answer is that when we moved in I found that the phone number ended in 398 - which rang a bell (sorry!).

So we live in a surviving Mark 2 Brit, so to speak!


Jan Burt (nee Robinson)

I have great memomies of my flights with Jim but will be unable to show my respects at the funeral due to caring for my husband 24/7 but my thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

David Berry

The answer lies in a book! 'The RAF Britannia and its people' has the information - plus a comment!

'As they had come off the production line, as well as the necessary registration number, each aircraft received a name:

XM489 Denebola
XM490 Aldebaran
XM491 Procyon
XM496 Regulus
XM497 Schedar
XM498 Hadar
XM517 Avior
XM518 Spica
XM519 Capella
XM520 Arcturus
XL635 Bellatrix
XL636 Argo
XL637 Vega
XL638 Sirius
XL639 Atria
XL640 Antares
XL657 Rigel
XL658 Adhara
XL659 Polaris
XL660 Alphard
XN392 Acrux
XN398 Altair
XN404 Canopus

The statement is often made that the RAF Britannias were named after stars. If this is said in the presence of Squadron Leader David Court-Smith then the speaker will be corrected:
‘XL636 was named after Argo, which is not a star. Argo Navis, to give its correct name, was a large constellation in the Southern Hemisphere between Canis Major and Southern Cross. In the middle of the 18th Century an astronomer called Nicolas de Lacaille decided that it was actually four separate constellations. The name Argo Navis meant ‘Argonaut’s Ship’ (you remember Jason pursuing the Golden Fleece in his Argo) so de Lacaille called the new constellations Carina (the keel), Puppis (the stern), Vela (the sail) and Pyxis (the compass).
‘The intriguing questions which come out of these facts are, therefore, why was one Britannia not named after a star and why was the constellation name chosen one of such astronomical antiquity?’'


Dave Ray

A few times recently former pax of ours have refered to flights with us from Lyneham and they remember the name of the particular aircraft in which they flew. All the time I flew the Brit on 99 squadron I never took much notice of the names but I would be interested now to know them if anyone could enlighten me please. David Ray (99sqn 1959 - 1966)

Ann Bihan

It is with great sadness that I have to report the passing of MALM Jim Verity MBE. MSM on the 5th June 2011 following a short illness.
Jim flew on 216, 511 & 10 Squadrons. He was a wonderful boss a gentle man and was respected and loved by all who knew him. Our thoughts go out to Francis his wife at this sad time.
"Jim now there is no pain fly free and high again."

There will be a private Cremation followed by a Memorial and Thanksgiving Service to be held on Wednesday 15th June 2011 at St Mary's Church Purton SN5 4EB at 2.45 followed by light refreshments at the Red House Club on Church Street Purton

As there is likely to be a very heavy turnout I would ask all those wishing to attend both the service and the Red House Club to let Peter Wentworth know preferably by email to or by telephone to 01367 240925 and to leave a message with their name and numbers attending

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