Peter Malam Brothers

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Peter Malam Brothers
Royal Air Force Fighter Command, 1939-1945. CH5247.jpg
Peter Brothers (left) in Surrey during the battle of Britain
Nickname(s) Pete
Born 30 September 1917
Prestwich, Lancashire
Died 18 December 2008 (aged 91)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Air Force
Years of service 1936–1947
Rank Air Commodore
Commands held No. 457 Squadron RAAF
No. 602 Squadron RAF
No. 57 Squadron RAF
AOC Military Air Traffic Operations
Director of Public Relations (RAF)

World War II

Malayan Emergency
Awards Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Flying Cross & Bar
Other work Consultant
Master of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators
Chairman of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association

Air Commodore Peter Malam 'Pete' Brothers, CBE, DSO, DFC & Bar (1917–2008) was a famed World War II Royal Air Force fighter pilot during the Battle of Britain. Brothers was scored a total of 16 kills during the Second World War, 10 of which were during the Battle of Britain.

Early life[edit]

Born in Prestwich, Lancashire, the son of John Malam Brothers, Brothers was educated at North Manchester School. His early interest in flying was shown by learning to fly aged 16. He joined the Royal Air Force in January 1936, and was granted a short service commission as an acting pilot officer on probation on 23 March,[1] Joining No 32 Squadron in October 1936, his commission was confirmed on 27 January 1937,[2] and he was promoted to flying officer on 27 October 1938.[3]

Second World War[edit]

Brothers first saw action during the Battle of Britain as a flight commander in No 32. Squadron RAF which was then based at RAF Biggin Hill flying Hurricane aircraft. The Battle of Britain was a very busy time for Brothers, and during this time he shot down his first enemy aircraft - an Bf 109 - by the end of August 1940 he was officially recognised as a Flying ace, having shot down eight enemy aircraft. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for this actions; the citation read:

Air Ministry, 13th September, 1940.


The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the undermentioned awards, in recognition of gallantry displayed in flying operations against the enemy:—

Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.


Acting Flight Lieutenant Peter Malan BROTHERS (37668).

During an offensive patrol in August 1940, this officer's flight encountered about one hundred enemy aircraft. He led the flight in attack against them, but before this could be pressed home, he was himself attacked by a number of Messerschmitt 110's. Turning to meet them, he found himself in a stalled position; he spun out of it and immediately sighted and engaged a Dornier 215 which he shot down. Later in the day he destroyed a Messerschmitt 109. Altogether Flight Lieutenant Brothers has destroyed seven enemy aircraft. He has at all times displayed great courage and initiative.[4]

Brothers was promoted substantive flight lieutenant on 3 September 1940,[5] and due to the level of losses within 32 Sqn, it was stood down, and on 9 September he was posted to No. 257 Squadron RAF (also based at RAF Biggin Hill) on 9 September as a Flight Commander under S/L Robert Stanford Tuck.[6] He was promoted acting squadron leader in 1941 and took command of No. 457 Squadron RAAFin June 1941, and converted to the Spitfire aircraft. He was promoted temporary squadron leader on 1 December 1941.[7] A year later when 457 Squadron returned to Australia, Brothers took command of No. 602 Squadron RAF. He became Tangmere Wing Wing Leader in October 1942. He was awarded a Bar to his DFC on 15 June 1943:

Air Ministry, 15th June, 1943.


The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards in recognition of gallantry displayed, in flying operations against the enemy: —


Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross.

Acting Wing Commander Peter Malam BROTHERS, D.F.C. (37668), Reserve of Air Force Officers.

This officer has displayed outstanding keenness and efficiency. Within recent months he has led a wing in many operations and, by his skilful work and personal example, has contributed in a large measure to the high standard of operational efficiency of the formation. He has displayed great devotion to duty.[8]

and the DSO in 1944:

Air Ministry, 3rd November, 1944.

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards in recognition of gallantry displayed in flying operations against the enemy: —

Distinguished Service Order.

Wing Commander Peter Malam BROTHERS, D.F.C. (37668), R.A.F.O.

Wing Commander Brothers is a courageous and outstanding leader whose splendid example has inspired all. He has led large formations of aircraft on many missions far into enemy territory. Much of the success obtained can be attributed to Wing Commander Brothers brilliant leadership. He has destroyed 13 enemy aircraft.[9]

By 1945, Brothers had flown 875 operational hours and was credited with having shot down 16 enemy aircraft and damaged many more. Despite his record, he was not offered a permanent commission so left the RAF in 1947 and joined the Colonial Service.[6]


After two years as a district officer in Kenya, Brothers applied to rejoin the RAF.[6] He was commissioned as a squadron leader on 2 June 1949 (with seniority from 5 August 1946),[10] and rather to his surprise was given command of a bomber squadron, No. 57 Squadron RAF, equipped with the Avro Lincoln bomber. He held command from 1950 to 1952, which included the Malayan Emergency campaign (Operation Firedog).[6] He was promoted wing commander on 2 July 1952,[11] and after RAF Staff College, Andover he was appointed wing commander (flying) at RAF Marham. There he joined the V bombers, flying the Vickers Valiant jet bombers. He retired from the RAF in 1973, after tours including Staff Officer at SHAPE, Director of RAF Operations (Overseas), Air Officer Commading Military Air Traffic Operations and Director of Public Relations (RAF). He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1964 Queen's Birthday Honours.[12]

Post-RAF life[edit]

Brothers was best known for his Battle of Britain exploits and was the Chairman of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association for a number of years.[6] He normally wore bright red socks.[citation needed] He died, aged 91, on 18 December 2008.[6][13]


  1. ^ "No. 34272". The London Gazette. 7 April 1936. p. 2284. 
  2. ^ "No. 34374". The London Gazette. 20 February 1937. p. 1260. 
  3. ^ "No. 34570". The London Gazette. 15 November 1938. p. 7195. 
  4. ^ "No. 34945". The London Gazette. 13 September 1940. p. 5487. 
  5. ^ "No. 34986". The London Gazette. 5 November 1940. p. 6394. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Air Commodore Pete Brothers—Wartime fighter pilot who destroyed at least 16 enemy aircraft, earning a DSO and two DFCs.". The Daily Telegraph. London. 21 December 2008. Retrieved 22 December 2008. 
  7. ^ "No. 35383". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 December 1941. p. 7111. 
  8. ^ "No. 36054". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 1943. p. 2729. 
  9. ^ "No. 36777". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 October 1944. p. 5034. 
  10. ^ "No. 38803". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 January 1950. p. 54. 
  11. ^ "No. 39586". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 June 1952. p. 3581. 
  12. ^ "No. 43343". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 June 1964. p. 4945. 
  13. ^ "Air Commodore Peter Brothers wartime fighter pilot". The Times. London. 6 January 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 

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