Obituary: LCDR Kenneth Brown


The following is the Vale signal for LCDR Kenneth Brown from the Chief of Navy:

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of Lieutenant Commander Kenneth Brown. He joined the ship’s company of HMAS Sydney (II) in 1938.  He was in the commissioning crew of HMAS Perth (I) in 1939. He was the last member living of the ship’s company of HMAS Nestor, the destroyer sunk in the Mediterranean in 1942.

Born in 1921 Ken Brown joined the ran in march 1938 from Frankston Victoria as a 16 year old ordinary seaman 2ndclass. During the war he served in the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, the Arctic and the Pacific. He was serving in HMAS Nestor during the pursuit of the battleship Bismarck in the Denmark strait north of Iceland in may 1941.

In the Mediterranean in June 1942 HMAS Nestor was heavily bombed and disabled. Able seaman brown was blown from his gun platform by the force of the explosion and injured. After receiving first aid to stop his bleeding he returned to his high angle Oerlikon gun and opened sustained fire on the dive bombers attacking Nestor with machine guns. That night, when it became necessary to abandon and sink Nestor, he dismantled two valuable Oerlikon guns and passed them to HMS Javelin with their belts of ammunition.

Petty Officer Brown served in the depot repair ship HMAS Playpus and in HMAS Lolita in New Guinea. He was present in Tokyo Bay when serving in the cruiser HMAS Shropshire to witness the surrender of Japan to the allies in September 1945.

In HMAS Australia (II) in 1947, aged just 26, he was promoted to be the youngest master at arms (cpo regulating branch) in the history of the RAN. This promotion was followed by his being commissioned in 1951.

Lieutenant Commander Brown continued his career in the regulating branch as a naval provost marshal at HMAS Kuttabul and HMAS Lonsdale. He retired from the navy in 1974 after 36 years of valuable service in peace and war.

Nestor’s commissioning bell now on display in the Museum of HMAS Cerberus.

In 2016 he was awarded his British Arctic Star by CN in recognition of his 1941 service in HMAS Nestor north of the Arctic Circle.

Ken Brown was a life member of the HMAS Sydney Association and was present to witness the launch of HMAS Sydney (V) in May 2018. He was the last sailor to have served, before the war, in the cruiser Sydney (II), which was lost with all 645 ship’s company after action with the German raider Kormoran in November 1941.

On behalf of the serving members of the RAN, and the extended Navy family, I extend condolences to Lieutenant Commander Brown’s family and friends. Navy will be represented at his size restricted funeral service.




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