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The Airmen's Stories - P/O H T Mitchell

 

Harry Thorne Mitchell was born in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada on 1st October 1920. His family sent him to England to study and he was first enrolled as a student at Charterhouse School and later at Kings College, London.

However he abandoned his studies and joined the RAF on a short service commission in October 1938, he was serving with 87 Squadron in France in early 1940.

 

Above: Mitchell with a P-40 in Alaska.

Above image via Harry Milberry.

 

On 10th May Mitchell claimed two Do17s destroyed and on the 11th a Ju87 destroyed and a Do17 shared.

The 10th May Dorniers were one from 4./KG2 that came down at Illange, north of Metz and another from 9./KG3 that crashed at Audun-le-Roman, NW of Metz.

The 11th May aircraft was a reconnaissance Do17M from Stab StG2 that force-landed at St. Trond.

The squadron was withdrawn to Debden on 22nd May.

He claimed a Me110 and a Ju87 destroyed and a Me110 damaged on 15th August and a Me109 destroyed on the 25th.

On 24th October 1940 Mitchell was posted to RAF Exeter from as non-effective sick.

On 7th December he was posted away to be an instructor at 8 FTS and was awarded the DFC (gazetted 11th February 1941).

Mitchell was sent to Canada as an instructor in 1941. Subsequently he was posted to 111 Fighter Squadron and went to the Aleutian islands in Alaska with that unit in June 1942. He assumed command of the squadron on 17th July 1942 after the previous commanding officer was killed in a flying accident, and retained it until passing command to S/Ldr. KA Boomer on 20th August 1942.

Shortly afterwards Mitchell was posted to Western Air Command.

While there Mitchell married Rita Elizabeth Cross of Ottawa on 31st January 1942 in Patricia Bay, Victoria, British Columbia. Mitchell returned to the United Kingdom in February 1943 for a second operational tour.

Mitchell was released from the RAF in 1946 as a Squadron Leader.

 

November 2021 - Bob Cross of Ontario, Canada writes:

He was my Uncle. Their daughter Jill (1946 - 1981) was born in Crewe, England.

Returning to Canada, he served as Defence Attaché in the Canadian Embassy in Washington and later worked for the CTV television company in Ottawa, owned by Ernie Bushnell, a family friend.

Harry and Rita had become serious alcoholics while on the diplomatic round in Washington. He was quite likely also suffering from PTSD which was unknown at the time. He was sacked from his job as a news announcer at CTV in Ottawa for being drunk.

His marriage broke up and left Ottawa in the late 50s and moved to Vancouver. He later met and married Geraldine McNeill in Surrey, British Columbia. She had been a wartime Wren and they may have met during the war.

 

Above: Geraldine and Harry.

 

Mitchell died on 8th December 1997 and was buried in the Valley View Memorial Gardens, Surrey, BC.

 


 

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