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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. R R Mitchell


Richard Ronald Mitchell was born at Perranporth, Cornwall on 24th April 1914 and educated at Truro Technical School.

He joined the RAF on 9th September 1930 as an Aircraft Apprentice at Halton.

He passed out in September 1933 as a Metal Rigger and was posted to 10 Squadron at Boscombe Down. While serving with the squadron Mitchell qualified as an air gunner, firstly on Virginias and then Heyfords.

In 1936 he served with 31 (Army Co-operation) Squadron on the North-West Frontier as a Metal Rigger and as an air gunner in Wapitis. Mitchell applied for pilot training and in late 1938 he returned to the UK and was posted to 2 E&RFTS Filton for an initial training course.

He chose to train on twin-engined aircraft and continued his training at 11 FTS Shawbury on Oxfords. Mitchell was promoted to Corporal and then to Sergeant in October 1939, when he joined 229 Squadron, then reforming at Digby with Blenheims.

The squadron re-equipped with Hurricanes in February 1940. It took part in operations over France and Dunkirk in May/June. Commissioned in November 1940, Mitchell went with the 229 pilots to the Middle East in May 1941. They embarked on HMS Furious on the 10th and arrived in Gibraltar during the night of the 18/19th.


Above: Mitchell (left) with Sgt. SW Merryweather of 229 Squadron.


There was a delay while the Navy dealt with the Bismarck and it was not until 6th June that 229 flew off to Malta. After refuelling they flew on to Mersa Matruh the next day and began operations in the Western Desert, attached to 73 and 274 Squadrons.

Mitchell destroyed a Ju87 on 17th June 1941. The ground crews arrived in late August and 229 began operating as a unit on 1st September. He was made a Flight Commander.

In March 1942 he was posted to 71 OTU Khartoum as a Flight Commander. He was given command of 250 Squadron in January 1943 but fell sick and was sent to hospital in Cairo.

He was appointed Chief Test Pilot at 107 MU Kasfereet in April. He was posted to 80 Squadron at Idku in June 1943, to command a special flight of stripped-down Sptitfire IXs set up to combat high-flying enemy reconnaissance aircraft.

In September 1943 Mitchell took command of 33 Squadron at Bersis. He led the squadron back to the UK in April 1944 and it took part in operations over France, before and after D-Day.

He was posted away in August, awarded the DFC (gazetted 19th September 1944) and given a staff job at HQ 12 Group, becoming SPSO in 1945.

Mitchell was made an MBE (gazetted 1st January 1946) and retired from the RAF on 24th April 1961 as a Wing Commander.

He died in 1994.

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