On D-DAY, June 6, 1944, Wing Commander Mannifrank Brown and the men from Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) No. 127 Wing received their life preservers before crossing the English Channel towards Juno Beach, on the north coast of France. The life jackets were commonly seen on Allied soldiers during the Second World War and were nicknamed “Mae West” after vaudeville and Broadway actress Mae West.
The RCAF laid two offensives on D-Day, by sea and air. W/C Brown led No. 127 Wing advance party by sea. Once Juno Beach had been taken, his role was to establish a temporary airbase that would provide a landing strip, refuelling, and maintenance for Allied aircraft. He sailed with all of the equipment and materials needed for achieving this task. However, even in the middle of the Channel, the Allies were not safe from the German offensive.
During the crossing No. 127 Wing lost one landing craft containing mostly communications equipment to German E-Boat attacks, which sunk their vessel with casualties. This danger from the underwater attack was just one reason W/C Brown and the 127th received these life preservers.
If you look closely, you can see Mannifrank Brown’s life preserver with his rank and name.
Accession # 2019.1.25
Sign up for our Boarding Pass e-newsletter for News & Updates from the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada.