Monday 17 November 2014

Desert Island Discs - Captain Eric Brown

On Friday after I had cleaned up, I flopped down on the bed (after desperately fighting with a super king sized duvet cover), and turned my clock radio on and listened to the people talking.  For the life of me I cant remember what they were saying.  They were over shadowed and completely eclipsed by what I heard next.

At 9am a lilting voiced Scottish lady interviewed Captain Eric Brown for his choices of 'Desert Island Discs'.  Wow.  What a man.  At aged 95 his voice cracked a little as he was talking.  The words that came out in his calm and steady manner, marked him as a true Gentleman.

You can read more about him {here} and {here}

His first flight was with his Father aged around 8, they kept this a secret from his Mother.  His Father was in the RAF.  He saw the Berlin Olympics where he met Ernst Udet a German Pilot, who told him to learn German fluently and learn to fly. 

The reason he joined the Royal Navy instead of the RAF, was because the Navy had suffered great losses of lives at the start of WW2 and were left with very few Pilots.

He was one of only 2 people who survived the U-boat torpedo that sunk HMS Audacity.  24 men joined themselves together with string (he corrected the lady and said, not rope, just string).  He said that the other pilot and himself survived due to wearing Mae West life preservers.  Where the other men had only the normal floatation devices that were like a rubber ring with braces over the shoulders.  As it was December they all suffered hypothermia and as they slipped into a deep sleep they rolled forward and drowned, so they did not drag them all under, they had to cut them loose.  Where as the 2 pilots had Mae Wests, they had inflated headrest and were balanced so you tipped backwards, moving your face away from the water.

He holds the world record 2407 landings on air craft carriers, using and testing 20 different aircraft.  He said that an American tried to beat this record but had to stop his attempts after suffering a nervous break down following his 1600 landing.  I can only imagine what it must be like trying to land on an aircraft carrier that could be up to 100 miles away, you have to search for it, as you couldnt have radio contact for coordinates in case someone was listening.  And that coupled with the rolling of the vessel, wind, bad weather and poor vision it is a feat of amazing skill.  I only have to think about us sailing in rain and high winds to think of how hard that must have been.

{Here} are his choices, his favourite of these being Stardust.  Along with the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare that they make everyone have, his final book would be a book on the Moon Landings.  I didnt catch the title as I was listening so hard to him talking about being friends with Neil Armstrong for over 30 years, I completely missed it.  He also stated he would like his flight logs, to which he added so he 'could relive his whole life'. 

He last flew a plane at the age of 70 in 1989, saying that he could only akin the feeling of giving up flying to a person going through drug withdrawal.  For a year he was hell to live with. 

He still gives talks and lectures now, I would love to hear him in real life...

Wow, is all I can say.


Raybeard said...

Sounds like you're not too familiar with 'Desert Island Discs', Sol ("lilting Scottish lady"?!). I've been an avid DID listener for over 50 years, but because last Friday's broadcast was not a repeat of the previous Sundays when I do my listening, (that particular broadcast having been replaced by Remembrance Day commemorations) I didn't hear this particular one. However, in view of what you say it definitely sounds worth catching up on. Thanks for bringing my attention to it.

Sol said...

Hi Ray, I dont normally listen to radio 4. My radio alarm clock is broken and all other stations for some unknown reason are all fuzzy and you cant quite get it so it sounds right and clear. so I am stuck with radio 4. Which I am glad of now that I have heard that broadcast.

I would journey quite far to hear him speak.

northsider said...

I love Spitfires and reading about Battle of Britain war heroes,Sol. I have plates with spitfires on and I even have a brass spitfire ornament. Have you been to Imperial War Museum at Duxford? Great post!

Sol said...

Hi ya Dave, no I havent been to Duxford. I am thinking that would be a really good day out. it could be a day out between Christmas and new year. we wont have time between now and then, the dreaded 'visiting' will start. But this time I have a little dictaphone and I have plenty of family questions. where as it is normally grumps and complaints I am hoping to direct the talk and they love talking about old times. I have pictures as prompts. Have you been to Duxford?

lovelygrey said...

Cool bloke! Must catch up on i-player but it'll have to wait until I get back to UK. Wi-fi signal very iffy here!

northsider said...

No Sol I haven't been to Duxford but I have seen it on the television and read about it. Closest I have ever been to a Spitfire is when I touched one in Manchester Science Museum.

Anonymous said...

Pretty picture. Sorry for the lame comment my brain cells are not working very well today!

Anonymous said...

What made me laugh about him is that he is 95 and has just bought a new sports car, what a man!

Tom Stephenson said...

Yes - a genuine surviving hero. Not many left from the 1940s.

Sol said...

Hi LovelyGrey, seriously cool old dude!

Dave, I will try and go and report back.

Susie that is tiny island with only a little hut and 4 goats on in an inlet off off Naxos

Toffeeapple, seriously I think he is now my hero!

Tom, I think he is fab!

John Going Gently said...

I agree with tom....... Not many left
Good post x

Sol said...

Hi John, I feel its important to document this stuff now. Like you do about your village. We need more people like him and less of this celebrity carp of being famous for tapes leaked on to the internet and having a big bum.

Janie Junebug said...

What a great post.


Sol said...

Hey Janie, he was a great man. When you write about great people the post writes itself as great. Thank you for visiting.