Discussion in 'Biographies' started by spidge, Jan 29, 2010.

  1. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    bomber | 1937 | 2651 | Flight Archive

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    Mitchell, Sir William Gore Sutherland (1888-1944), air force officer, was born
    in Cumberland, New South Wales, Australia, on 8 March 1888, the son of
    William Broadfoot Mitchell, a brewery owner of Sydney, and his second
    wife, Edith Gore. He was educated in England at Wellington College
    (1902-6), where he captained the rugby fifteen. On leaving school he
    was commissioned into the special reserve battalion of the Devonshire
    regiment, and he transferred to the regular army in 1909, when he
    joined the Highland light infantry. 'In common with other enterprising
    and adventurous officers of the period, he was seized with a desire to
    fly' (DN[​IMG], and he obtained his Royal Aero Club pilot's certificate
    (no. 483) in May 1913. Having qualified at the Central Flying School
    at Upavon in December 1913, he was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps

    On the
    outbreak of the First World War, on 13 August 1914 Mitchell went to
    France with 4 squadron as part of the original RFC deployment in
    support of the British expeditionary force.
    Flying the B.E.2 and Farman S.7, he took part in the retreat from
    Mons. As a temporary captain he was sent home to command 10 squadron,
    which, equipped with B.E.2c aircraft, he took to France in July 1915,
    later taking part in the battle of Loos. After serving on the Somme,
    where he was awarded the MC and promotion to lieutenant-colonel, he
    commanded the twelfth wing at Arras from the spring of 1917.
    He was appointed to the DSO, mentioned four times in dispatches, and
    awarded the AFC. In 1918 he took over 20 group in north-west Africa,
    and the following year he was awarded a permanent commission in the
    Royal Air Force, with the rank of wing commander. Later in 1919 he
    went to India, where he commanded the RAF wing on operations in
    (1922-23) and was twice mentioned in dispatches and awarded the CBE.
    On 31 October 1919 he married Essy Gordon Jane, the daughter of
    Lieutenant-Colonel William Plant, Indian army, and the widow ofCaptain F. L. Hingston of the Duke of Cornwall's light infantry. Their
    only child died in infancy. The popular couple were known to their
    many friends as the Mitches and he to his colleagues as Ginger Mitch.

    Following his return to England in 1924, Mitchell commanded the Flying Training
    School at Netheravon, Wiltshire, then went to RAF Halton,
    Buckinghamshire, as second in command, in both posts demonstrating his
    capacity for and interest in training youth. In 1928 he went to Aden
    to command the station when the RAF took over responsibility for the
    protectorate from the army. He returned to the Air Ministry in October
    1929 as director of training until 1933, when he was made commandant
    of the RAF College at Cranwell and was promoted air vice-marshal. At
    Halton he had hunted and at Cranwell he played polo, where, although
    critics found fault with his seat, his enthusiasm was boundless. He
    then spent two years, from 1935, as air officer commanding British forces in Iraq, returning, in 1937, to become air member for personnel
    at the Air Ministry. Knighted (KC[​IMG] in 1938 and promoted air chief
    marshal, he served in Egypt as air officer commanding, Middle East, from 1939 to 1940 and was inspector-general of the RAF from 1940 to

    Mitchell's final responsibility in the RAF demanded his zeal, leadership, and organizational skills, as he was based in Glasgow to
    oversee the distribution, installation, and speedy completion of the
    chain of radio direction-finding (radar) stations on the highlands and
    islands of Scotland. Described by the air minister as 'temporary work
    of exceptional importance', his task was completed by September 1941,
    and he was placed on the retired list. This enabled him to take up his
    new post as gentleman usher of the black rod in the House of Lords-the
    first officer of the RAF to be appointed to that post.

    Mitchell was commandant of the Air Training Corps in London and Essex and was
    at Lord's watching his cadets play the army at cricket on the day of
    his death. He died of a cerebral thrombosis at his home, 14 Eresby
    House, Rutland Gate, Westminster, London, on 15 August 1944, survived
    by his wife, and was buried at Putney Vale cemetery four days later.

    Robin Woolven

    The Times (17 Aug 1944) + The Times (18 Aug 1944) + The Times (21 Aug
    1944) + The Times (26 Aug 1944) + TNA: PRO, file AIR 19/281
    [appointment to office of black rod] + DNB + Royal Air Force Lists
    (1918-41) + Wellington College Record
    (1913) + Wellington College Record (1933) + Wellington College Record
    (1948) + d. cert. + Burke, Peerage (1939) Likenesses W. Stoneman,
    photograph, 1938, NPG Wealth at death £3461 4s. 8d.: probate, 1945,
    CGPLA Eng. & Wales

    From Hansard - THE LATE AIR CHIEF MARSHAL SIR WILLIAM MITCHELL. (Hansard, 26 September 1944)

    HL Deb 26 September 1944 vol 133 cc117-8 117
    My Lords, since the House last assembled, your Lordships will have been grieved to learn of the sudden death of a distinguished and important official of the House, Air Chief Marshal Sir William Mitchell, who for the last three years has held the post of Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod. Sir William was the first representative of the Air Force to hold this position, as it had previously been occupied either by a distinguished soldier or a distinguished sailor. His association with the Air Force went back to the very beginnings of the Royal Flying Corps; he gained his certificate as a qualified pilot in the summer of 1913; and when, at the outbreak of the last war, the four squadrons of the original Air Force went to France, he took part in No. 4 Squadron. By 1916 he was commanding a newly-raised squadron in the Battle of the Somme. In 1917 he was promoted to become what would now be called a Wing Commander, and served in the Battle of Arras, where he gained his D.S.O., and he rendered eminent flying service in various capacities right through the war.

    Between the wars Sir William had a most distinguished career in India and at Aden and then, in 1933, he became Commandant of the newly-formed R.A.F. College at Cranbrook. His service in the Air Force carried him to the position of Inspector-General, which he held until his appointment three years ago to official service in connexion with this House. Although his services as Black Rod were so regrettably short, Sir William Mitchell had impressed us all with his attention to duty, his dignified bearing and his in-variable courtesy. We sincerely deplore the loss of the official and friend who was always ready to be kind and helpful in arranging for the accommodation of visitors and in other ways, and who has now passed from the world at the early age of fifty-six. Your Lordships will, I feel sure, wish that a message of condolence and sympathy should be sent to his widow and his relatives.
    My Lords, I should like, on behalf of my noble friends to support the suggestion made by the noble and learned Viscount. It was not my good fortune, as it was of the noble Viscount sitting beyond the Gangway just below me (Lord Trenchard), to know at first hand the record of his service in the Air Force of one for whose loss we express our regret to-day, but I do know that all my friends feel that we received from him constant and tactful helpfulness. We should like to testify how much we appreciated the ability and kindliness with which he discharged his duty to this House, and to associate ourselves with what the noble and learned Viscount has said.

    My Lords, in every quarter of the House the sudden and unexpected death of our late Black Rod is deeply regretted. After many years in the highest posts of the Royal Air Force, Sir William Mitchell entered the service of this House, and it is pleasant to think that one of the Houses of the Imperial Parliament should have had as one of its principal officers a man who was Australian born. All of us have had experience on many occasions of his helpfulness and courtesy, and we all join in the expression of sympathy which the Lord Chancellor has proposed to send to his relatives.

    Air Chief Marshal
    London ATC
    16/08/1944 56
    RAF UK
    Quote: William Gore Sutherland b: 8 Mar 1888

    r: 1 Jul 1941 d: 15 Aug 1944
    KCB - 1 Jan 1938 (CB - 1 Jan 1935), CBE - 30 May 1924, DSO - 1 Jan 1918, MC - 1 Jan 1917, AFC - 3 Jun 1919, MiD - 19 Oct 1914 (& 9Dec 1914), MiD - 1 Jan 1916, MiD - 11 Dec 1917, MiD - 10 Jun 1921, MiD - 30 May 1924.
    (Army): - 2 Lt: 15 Aug 1906, Lt: 4 Nov 1911, (T) Capt: 15 Jan 1915, Capt: 17 May 1915, (T) Maj: 1 Mar 1916, (T) Lt Col: 18 Dec 1916.
    (RAF): - (T) Lt Col [Maj]: 1 Apr 1918, (T) Col: 9 Jul 1918, Wg Cdr: 1 Aug 1919 [FONT="][1 Apr 1918][/FONT], Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1924, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1929, AVM: 1 Jul 1933, AM: 1 Jul 1937, Act ACM (unpd): 9 Sep 1939 - 13 May 1940, ACM: Retained.
    (RAFO Class CC): - Wg Cdr: 13 Jul 1942.
    15 Aug 1906: Officer, 4th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment (Special Reserve).
    28 Jun 1908: Officer, 3rd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment (Special Reserve).
    xx xxx 1909: Officer, Highland Light Infantry. (RAeC Certificate No 483)
    xx xxx 1913: Attended Central Flying School.
    17 Dec 1913: Pilot, No 4 Sqn RFC. (Various types – Netheravon/Western Front)
    15 Jan 1915: Flight Commander, No 10 Sqn RFC. (BE2c, BE2d – UK/Western Front)
    1 Jun 1916: Officer Commanding, No 10 Sqn RFC. (BE2c, BE2d – Western Front)
    18 Dec 1916: Officer Commanding, 12th (Corps) Wing RFC.
    9 Jul 1918: Officer Commanding, No 20 Group.
    1 Aug 1919: Awarded Permanent Commission as a Lieutenant Colonel
    6 Jan 1920: Officer Commanding, No 52 (Corps) Wing. (India)
    1 Apr 1920: Officer Commanding, No 3 (Indian) Wing. (re-designated No 1 (Indian) Wing)
    10 Jul 1920: Officer Commanding, No 1 (Indian) Wing, Wiziristan.
    28 Mar 1924: Officer Commanding, No 1 FTS.
    19 Jan 1925: Group Captain - Admin, HQ RAF Halton./OC No 1 SoTT (Boys)
    8 Mar 1928: Officer Commanding, Aden Command.
    4 Oct 1929: Director of Training.
    30 Jan 1933: AOC, RAF Cranwell/Commandant, RAF College.
    31 Dec 1934: AOC, British Forces in Iraq.
    1 Jul 1937: Air Member for Personnel.
    21 Mar 1938: Supernumerary, HQ No 6 (Auxiliary) Group.
    23 Mar 1939: AOC in C, RAF Middle East.
    24 May 1940: Inspector-General of the RAF.
    1 Oct 1941: Reverted to Retired List retaining the rank of Air Chief Marshal.
    26 Sep 1941 Appointed Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod
    13 Jul 1942: Appointed to commission in Class CC of RAFO, Admin and Special Duties branch
    xx xxx 1942 - 15 Aug 1944: Commandant, London Command - ATC.
    He was awarded RAeC No 483 on 17 May 1913. Retiring from the RAF in 1941, he became the first RAF officer and Australian to hold the post of 'Black Rod' in the House of Lords. With the expansion of the Air Training Corps following it's formation in 1941, there became a growing need for decentralising the command structure as a result of which he was appointed Commandant of London Command in 1942, a post he held until his death at the early age of 56 from a heart attack.

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