Charles Brown was born in Poplar on 3rd August 1899. He was the only son of Charles (a French Polisher by trade) and Ellen Brown. He joined Ilford County High School on 10th September 1912 and left on 26th February 1915 to embark on what would be a very short career as a clerk in the Civil Service.
Previously, he had been a student at Park School, West Ham and Cleveland Road Elementary School, Ilford. During his time at Ilford County High School, his family lived at 252 Kingston Road, Ilford. By the time of his death, they were living in Elmstead Road, Seven Kings.
Once old enough, he joined the Royal Air Force and trained as a Flight Cadet. Sadly, he died on 27th July 1918, aged just 18 and before he could play a part in the war itself. As the Essex Newsman reported on 3rd August 1918, Charles ‘was fatally injured as the result of a collision in mid-air in Kent on Saturday. He was on the point of graduating for his commission as pilot.’ His body was buried in Barking (Rippleside) Cemetery, grave number D561.
The Autumn 1918 edition of the school magazine, Chronicles, reported further details, ‘While practising aerial fighting two machines collided and fell…the machine piloted by Lieut. Brown seemed to be absolutely smashed in the air, and as it fell the unfortunate pilot could be seen to fall or jump out…The second machine (piloted by Lieut. Taylor) seemed to be more or less under control, though badly damaged, and as it landed it turned over. Help was immediately rendered, and Lieut. Taylor was at once taken to hospital.’
Research by Andrew Emeny, History Teacher at ICHS
ICHS school records and magazines
The Essex Newsman (03/08/1918)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Ilford County High School started life as the Park Higher Grade School in 1901 in Balfour Road, Ilford. It was renamed Ilford County High School (or initially County High School, Ilford) in the years after the school’s management was transferred from Ilford School Board to Essex Education Committee in 1904.