Born in Surrey in 1920, Richard "Mitch" Mitchell joined the Territorial Army as
a Sapper in 1938 to be subsequently called up for military service on 1st September 1939 (two days before
war was declared).
Too young for service with the BEF the next two years were spent in Kent mining bridges, building coastal
defences, laying beach-mines, constructing gun-emplacements around airfields, and generally preparing for
the expected invasion by the Germans after Dunkirk. The invasion didn't happen but this activity
did provide Mitch with a "front seat" view of the Battle of Britain!
In July he transferred to the RAF for Flying Duties and learnt to fly at No.1 EFTS, Hatfield (on Tiger Moths)
before being sent to Canada under the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS) to fly Harvard IIs at No.39 SFTS,
Swift Current, Saskatchewan, where he gained his Wings and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer. On
returning to the UK he applied for a posting to Army Co-operation Command and was sent to 41 Operational
Training Unit (OTU) at Old Sarum, near Salisbury, to fly Mustangs. On completion of that course in
November 1942 he was posted to No. 268 Squadron, at Snailwell, Newmarket. The next couple of
years were spent flying Shipping patrols (Lagoons) off the Dutch Coast, Intruder operations (Rhubarbs) into
Holland and Belgium and conducting diversionary attacks to assist Medium Bomber raids into Belgium.
On one occasion a strafing attack was carried out on a SS Barracks at Amsfoort in Holland with considerable
In January 1944 he was awarded the DFC and shortly after was sent on "Rest" to 35 Wing HQ as an Operations
Officer prior to returning to 268 Squadron in October 1944 to commence his second tour of Operations.
On 24th March 1945, S/Ldr Colin Maitland, DFC, the "Boss" of II (AC) squadron was killed in action and
Mitch was promoted to S/Ldr the following day and given the awesome responsibility to take his place as
Commanding Officer of "Shiny Two". With the declaration of "VE Day" on 8 May 1945 he managed only another 10 Sorties
with his new Command before taking the Squadron into the peace.