In the state of New South Wales, Australia, the expression brown bomber, also Brown Bomber, designated a traffic warden, i.e., a person employed to enforce regulations about the parking of motor vehicles.
– in the state of Victoria: grey meanie;
– in the state of South Australia: sticker-licker.
In the expression brown bomber:
– the adjective brown probably refers to the colour of those traffic wardens’ uniform;
– what the noun bomber refers to is unclear; perhaps it somehow allude to the fact that many of those traffic wardens were originally war veterans; or perhaps it alludes to the Australian-English use of the noun bomb for an old car.
—Incidentally perhaps, Brown Bomber was the nickname given to Joseph Louis Barrow (1914-1981), a famous U.S. professional boxer who competed from 1934 to 1951 and was the world heavyweight champion from 1937 to 1949.
The earliest occurrences of the expression brown bomber that I have found are as follows, in chronological order:
1-: From The Sun (Sydney, New South Wales) of Wednesday 22nd March 1950:
Mr. Appelboom “is going nuts”
Red-haired, 42-year-old Myer Appelboom, city businessman, is having a “trot of the outs.”
Mr. Appelboom, who has paid out a fortune in traffic fines, is out of pocket, out of patience and out of countenance.
Mr. Appelboom, with 241 parking convictions between 1947 and 1949, and hundreds more from 1939 to 1947, fines of £104 for parking offences in the past three months, and a fine yesterday of £37/10/– said today:
“My friends are ringing me up all day, ragging me.
“And what happens:
“I get home last night.
“My wifes [sic] says: ‘It serves you right!’
“That was too much.
“I just walked out and had dinner by myself.
“This morning I didn’t bother to say goodbye.
“I’ll have a long talk to the wife tonight.”
Mr. Appelboom doesn’t blame the police or the brown bombers (parking police).
“It’s the system,” he said. “There isn’t a parking station in Sydney where a businessman can park his car for a limited period.
“If you get in, you can’t get out, and if you happen to get out, you can’t get in.
“Excuse me, I must go and park my car somewhere else—I’ve been booked again.
“Honest, I’m being driven nuts.”
2-: From £50,000 a year in parking fines: Traffic Court is a goldmine, by Joseph Winkler, published in The Sun (Sydney, New South Wales) of Wednesday 12th April 1950:
Sydney’s Traffic Court, housed in a dingy old building in Phillip Street, near the Quay, is a veritable goldmine.
The £50,000 a year it produces in fines for Consolidated Revenue is a result of the diligence and enthusiasm of the city’s special force of 100 parking police.
It is not to their discredit that they have been dubbed the “Brown Bombers” by hundreds of motorists. They are merely administering the law.
3-: From Truth (Sydney, New South Wales) of Sunday 30th July 1950:
The “Brown Bombers” Take Over
Why have the Parking Police, Sydney’s “Brown Bombers,” taken over that area of Castlereagh St., from Hunter St. to King St., so ably handled up to a month ago by blue-uniformed policemen?
Thousands of important visitors from all over the world stay at hotels and clubs in the vicinity and received reasonable treatment in the past.
Today, some Brown Bombers are behaving like provosts in war time.
No matter how distinguished the person who leaves his car driver waiting for a moment in Castlereagh St., the car is peremptorily sent around the block or ordered to some remote area.
Was not the work of the blue-uniformed police efficient? Truth learns there is a distinct possibility that more will be heard about this change.
4-: From Let Sydney’s parking horror be a lesson, by Logan Sligo, published in The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Queensland) of Friday 29th September 1950:
Activities of the special parking squad, known as the Brown Bombers, have given rise to the parking jitters in Sydney.
Businessmen have been known to rush from an important conference to move their motor cars before the tell-tale chalk mark on the wheels is recorded by the parking patrol.
Commercial travellers who have to go from buyer to buyer with samples have adopted a pay-up attitude, some paying 100 fines in a year.
Wide publicity was given to a recent report that one businessman had paid £1000 in fines.
Scores of other motorists have paid more than £100 in fines.
5-: From the column Sidelights, by ‘Shomer’, published in The Hebrew Standard of Australasia (Sydney, New South Wales) of Thursday 16th November 1950:
Some precious examples of good-natured humour are unfortunately hidden away from the great numbers of the community. Ben (So This is America) Caplan, raconteur and natural wit, last week recited a beautiful story at a function. His subject matter—Myer Appelboom—the Parking King. Ben Caplan ‘revealed’ to his breathless audience that the Parking cops have approached Myer to resume his parking activities. Says Benny Caplan: ‘They (the brown bombers) complained bitterly that wholesale dismissals had taken place in the parking police force since Myer’s ‘retirement’ and in spite of a desperate search throughout the prohibited parking area, they have been unable to find a worthy successor who was in Mr. Appelboom’s class.’
6-: From Truth (Sydney, New South Wales) of Sunday 4th March 1951:
Give the ‘chalk’ boys a real job to do!
Surely the time has come when the Brown Bombers, acording [sic] to some motorists the most disliked and, perhaps, in other cases, the most unnecessary traffic policemen the Civil Service has offered the State, should do some real work.
Many of these gentlemen have been rude and uncompromising to the suffering motorist, spending their lives marking car tyres with bits of chalk and sending motorists up for trivial parking offences.
Others, disabled ex-servicemen, are doing their best at what can be described only as a wearisome job.
Truth suggests that the Brown Bombers should be taken away from their tyre-marking activity and given some real work—within the city, helping traffic police to control pedestrians.
7-: From the column The News Behind The News, by ‘Insider’, published in Illawarra Daily Mercury (Wollongong, New South Wales) of Wednesday 21st March 1951—Crown Street is the main street in the city of Wollongong:
Mayor Kelly’s “lifting” of the 4 to 6 p.m. parking ban in Crown Street has apparently not been called to the attention of the police. The “Brown Bombers” were more than busy late yesterday booking those imprudent enough to take the council’s decision as the last word in the matter.
8-: From What is Brisbane doing about its parking problem?, by Ken Hardy, published in the Brisbane Telegraph (Brisbane, Queensland) of Saturday 19th May 1951:
Sydney is a first class example of the chaos that can result if traffic problems are neglected.
Because there are not enough places to park, motorists in Sydney pay £50,000 a year in fines.
An army of special traffic officers, mostly disabled war veterans, was formed by the City Council. Known as the “brown bombers”—they are dressed in khaki—they go about the city booking motorists at the rate of more than 1,000 a week for parking offences.
Their job is to try to keep the streets open. But many motorists just pay fine after fine so they can keep their cars on the streets.