A work in progress – the fuller biographies will emerge in due course: please sign up to the Newsletter (bottom of the page) and we’ll let you know when we’ve done more justice in writing up our extraordinary signatories.
Lt Colonel Thomas MITCHELL MBE BSc FRIBA MInstStE RE for the ROYAL ENGINEERS contribution to the air war worldwide and the key importance in WW2 building of the rapid provision of forward airstrips in NORMANDY and elsewhere for the universal requirement of air power.
Normandy’s 100 miles distance from UK airfields, partly its strategic surprise to the Germans as a main front beachhead, accentuated the necessity of airfield building, initially disguised as “Road Construction Companies RE.
Major Mitchell was OC 693 Artisan Works Company RE when placed under CRE 24 Airfield Construction Group and crossing from Felixstowe with his plant on LANDING SHIP TANK LST 3507 anchored off King Beach Ver-sur-Mer at 1800hrs on D-DAY, too stormy to offload onto the RHINO rectangular floating platforms with outboard motors at each corner until 7th June and grading work began on D+2 for St CROIX-sur-MER. The airfield initially was an RRS (Refuelling and Rearming Strip) with a/c returning to UK at dusk and the first a/c a TYPHOON, with a dodgy engine hit by flak, arrived at 0630 on the St-CROIX-B3-RRS on 10th June followed by lone unofficial Spitfire and then operational HURRICANES.
B3 became a full and the FIRST ALG AIR LANDING GROUND on D+5 with frequent Vics of 3 taking off in dusty conditions. At 0935 on 15 June, General EISENHOWER landed at B3 in a FLYING FORTRESS and that week Tom’s wife saw this on a newsreel and her husband greeting him in the welcoming party. This was the first vital projection of CLOSE AIR SUPPORT for the ARMIES by 38 Group, 2nd TACTICAL AIR FORCE.