© Copyright 2011  Julianne Dodds Rescue yacht White Swan World War II In April 1932 Brown applied to change the yacht’s name to White Swan. [7] White Swan became a luxurious, floating home for Merton Brown and his wife at a peaceful mooring only 10 minutes from Singapore’s colonial Raffles Hotel by sampan and motor car. In August 1938 the Sunday Times described the lavish refinements aboard White Swan. There were “13 electric fans, pneumatic mattresses, a modern cinema projector, an up-to-date shore type bathroom, a telephone, a kerosene-operated refrigerator and an all-electric radio.” She also boasted “a modified air-conditioning plant which completely changed the air in the main saloon every few seconds.” Such complete indulgence was seldom found in the modern homes of the day let alone in a sea-going ship. Mr. and Mrs. Brown generally sailed away for the weekends along the east and west coasts; on a long weekend it was possible to sail to Malacca and back. Many Malayan and overseas notables appeared in the White Swan’s visitors book. The author, Noel Barber, spent his honeymoon on White Swan. In his book “Fires of Spring” he wrote – “….had met a man called Merton Brown, a wealthy South African. He owned a schooner with an auxiliary engine that could be operated by a crew of two. I did not know him well, but one evening, having seen a girl home from the cinema, I called at Raffles for a last drink, and was hailed by Brown who was host to a large party there.  He was a cheerful man with a pink face and good-humoured grin, and before I left he said to me : ‘ You know my old tub, the White Swan? How would you like a week in her – on your own?’ I could think of nothing more exciting. He signed the chit for the drinks and leaning over added: ‘I’m off to Hong Kong on business in ten days. Be away a fortnight. There's a small desert island eighty miles out to sea from Singapore…’ After lunch on board the White Swan, Helen and I went below for a siesta in the small mahogany cabin with its two bunks and and swinging lantern of brass which looked as though it needed the wick trimming each night, but had, in point of fact, a discreet electric bulb inside.  There was another large cabin which we used as a dressing-room.  I must say that Merton enjoyed the best of everything.  The stores were packed with excellent food and wine, there was fresh meat in the refrigerator and the head Malay boy, Kamis, was a cunning cook.” During WW II Brown was put in charge of the engineering section for Thornycroft’s launches. [8]  In late December 1941 he had been accepted into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in the General Duties Branch as an Acting Pilot Officer on probation in emergency. [9] Little did he know that he would be called into duty six weeks later along with his beloved White Swan. Celebrity White Swan 1932 to 1941 Photo courtesty of Bill Wright. White Swan (at rear) moored in Singapore Harbour pre 1942. Photo courtesy of Bill Wright, grandson of the Brisbane boat builder, Norman Wright.