Sussex

Navy pilot Eric 'Winkle' Brown mourned in private funeral

Capt Eric "Winkle" Brown Image copyright Simon Winchcombe
Image caption Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown died last month aged 97

Mourners at the funeral of the Royal Navy's most decorated pilot heard how he inspired a young boy shortly before his death.

Capt Eric "Winkle" Brown died in February, aged 97, having flown 487 types of aircraft.

His biographer, Colonel Paul Beaver, read tributes at a private ceremony in Crawley on Monday.

They included a letter from an 11-year old boy from Dorchester who described the test pilot as a hero.

Image copyright Brown family
Image caption Brown, second right, with colleagues on a Spitfire in 1944

The youngster began writing and sending drawings to Capt Brown two years ago. He told the pilot's family he was "devastated" he would never get to meet him.

Last Post

"Eric encouraged him, telling him to do maths and physics and to keep physically fit to help him become a naval test pilot in the future," Col Beaver said.

Tributes were also paid by the pilot's grand-daughter, Melanie Satisky, who read the aviation poem High Flight.

Mourners included First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas and members of clubs and societies associated with him, such as The People's Mosquito, of which Capt Brown was patron.

A Royal Marines' bugler played the Last Post as Capt Brown's coffin was committed at the Surrey and Sussex Crematorium.

Capt Brown was born in Leith in 1919 and educated at Edinburgh's Royal High School, before studying at the University of Edinburgh, where he learned to fly.

During World War Two, he flew fighter aircraft and witnessed the liberation of Bergen Belsen concentration camp.

The pilot, who had been appointed MBE, OBE and CBE, moved to Copthorne in West Sussex and died at East Surrey Hospital in February after a short illness.

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