RJ Mitchell. A life in aviation.
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Personal Memories

Steve Blackham

Having read about R J Mitchell's achievements, he makes me proud to be British.

Why can't the government recognise his achievements posthumously. If people can get a knighthood for kicking a football or acting in a play what does R J deserve?

With the lack of subjects for films I'm amazed that no-one has taken his life history & created a modern day version of his life.

Can anything be done to promote an award to recognise him?


I am RJ Mitchell's great-grandaughter. It is such an honour to have known that my great grandfather achieved so much in his short lifetime and was able to direct the course of the future through his work.

Although I was born a very long time after his death, it is obvious from my grandfather (Dr Gordon Mitchell) and other followers just how legendary he was. I just hope that he is able to be honoured to the degree that he deserves into the future so that many others will remember just how wonderful he was and he will never be forgotten.

Hilda Jones (Née Ashman)

During the War, I worked for Phillips and Powis. It changed its name to Vickers Armstrong in South Marston, near Swindon. I was employed on the production of the Spitfire. Firstly, I was in the Fitting Shop where I had to drill 3000 separate components. This work I found strenuous. I was then moved to the Paint Shop where I was priming and camouflaging the Spitfire.

When the War ended, I then worked in the Shipping Office as a typist. I ended my work with Vickers in 1954.

I am now 84 years of age, and have many memories of the time. I am proud to be part of the Spitfire's history.

James McMillen

I have visited your site and congratulate you on your promotion of RJ Mitchell and for according him the recognition he truly deserves. The Battle of Britain was a turning point in WWII and whilst the Spitfire and the Hurricane aircraft and their pilots were crucial in its success, we should not forget the contribution made by the engine which powered the aircraft. RJ Mitchell and Sir Sydney Camm both based the design of their aircraft around a new but untried engine - the Rolls-Royce MERLIN. This engine proved itself throughout WWII and contributed to the success of the aircraft it powered.

Carl Thomson

As a Sandbachian who now resides in Newchapel Stoke on Trent I truly believe that RJM should be honored for the gift he gave to the British people in the form of the Spitfire. This man's gift gave our brave airman a plane that served and saved our country. Even today I feel in my soul a passion for this wonderful plane with it Merlin engine and the looks that are so graceful. We would not have the FREEDOM that we have today if it were not for these so brave airmen and the Spitfire that RJM gave to us. We the younger generation do not forget the price that was paid by so many in the name of freedom for us and our children. We can honor footballers and other sports personalities yet a true hero of this country is not given the recongnition he truly deserves. So please I ask of this Government who would not be in power today if it were not for this man let us show RJM the honor he deserves.

Harry Griffiths - ex Supermarine works

I joined Supermarine in 1928 - saw the first engine run of the prototype K5054 and was involved until 1960 in the research and development department keeping the aircraft's performance in front of that of the enemy - the loss of RJ in 1937 was a severe blow - he was a fine man to work for - the work of Joe Smith, his successor, should not be forgotten in this development but it must be said that 'RJ', who served an apprenticeship in a steam engine works and then became one of this country's greatest aircraft designers, must have been a genious

Stephen Miller

Thank you for giving me and my family freedom by a selfless determination to see an aeroplane of such magnitude and grace to help win the Battle of Britain and to still grace our skys


'Mitch' - I salute you and I miss you. And from my grandchildren - all their love.

Michael Jolley

Like every other British schoolboy living through World War II in Britain. I had my model Spitfire that was zoomed, attacked its prey and carefully landed! My Spitfire fascination though marked my career - I left Repton and joined the de Havilland Aeronautical Training School at Hatfield and became totally immersed in aviation. Now 71, living in Arizona and having had a wonderful career with Rolls-Royce in the UK and here the US, I still thrill to that distinctive rumble of the wonderful Merlin. As I write this memory I am looking up to a picture that was presented to me on my retirement, it shows the Battle of Britain Memorial Window that was erected at the Rolls-Royce Derby factory in 1949. The dedication reads "This window commemorates the pilots of the Royal Air Force who in the Battle of Britain turned the work of our hands into the salvation of our country".

Margaret Hofman

I have vivid memories of watching Spitfires coming back to their bases in Essex after raids, even though I was 4 at the time. Once my mother and I were out shopping and two German bombers were overhead, obviously heading for London or more interesting places than our little town. The Spitfires were darting around under and over the enemy planes , like bees round a honey pot, we could clearly hear the guns firing. I feel so priviledged to have been around at this time and seen these beautiful planes in action.

Georges T Jurish

As a boy, growing up in the West London area during WW2, (I am now 70 years of age), I have a very clear recollection of a Spitfire flying quite low on a course parallel to our back garden. Of course - as was the habit in those days - we all waved like mad to the pilot, who we could see in silhouette. Having given us a wave in return, he waggled his wings and went on his way at a "rate of knots"!!! Later, in 1952, I accepted Her Majesty's "invitation" to join her armed forces for two years, and In fact served 10 years in the Royal Air Force - initially as an aero engine nechanic, and then as a General Fitter.

Dominick Penrose

My mother, Annie Penrose (click to see image), who was the little spitfire that gave name to the amazing plane, still speaks fondly of her memories of Reg Mitchell at the time when her father Sir Robert McLean (click to see image) was chairman of Vickers and Supermarine. She is now 94 and still able to gather admirers, much like the Spitfire, but admittedly there is a little less of the spitting fire about her nowadays. My grandfather, Sir Robert, tried hard to put the record straight during his lifetime about the great trials his team had to break through political and military dogma to get the Spitfire in the air. So we are glad to see the story unfold for another generation to understand what was required to produce a thoroughbred that became pivotal in our quest to win the last world war.

Brian Davis

I was a war baby born 2 June 1940 but, incredibly, have vivid memories of seeing this commemorated designers glorious aircraft, single and formation flying, in the skies above my parents home in West London. We all certainly have the good fortune and a great debt of gratitude for the life of Mr. Reginald J Mitchell (RJ). The foundation set up to commemorate him, through the enthusiasm and generosity of Mr. Sydney Frank the life of Mr. Reginald J Mitchell (RJ). The foundation set up to is, quite frankly, just wonderful.

As a young man and at the beginning of my career in the 50s I was inspired by the achievements of RJ Mitchell and enthusiastically entered the world of design and production engineering. Although I never quite made the dizzy heights of RJ; I nevertheless had a wonderful and exciting career. Perhaps now, through the auspices of this exciting educational program, other young people will be inspired to "reach for the sky" and enter the world of invention, design and manufacturing. We do so desperately need to reinvent our manufacturing industries and move away from the quick buck, get rich, investment brigade. For the sake of us all, we need to stimulate and inspire our young to follow the lead of people like Reginald J Mitchell.

If you want to have an awesome and humbling experience... go to the RAF War Memorial at Runneymead near Windsor UK... spend time reading some of the thousands of inscriptions. Then, climb the tower to the roof and look out across the Thames valley towards London (on a clear day, incredibly, you can see both Windsor Castle and London)... wonder what kind of scene it would have been without the achievments of people like RJ and the glorious few, as referred to by Churchill, and commemorated on the plaques in the quadrangles below your feet. You will remember the visit for the rest of your life!

Gil Ben-Ari

Being born only March 1944, I have no memories of the war.

But after many years as a GA enthusiast, from my earliest memories of aircraft at air displays, it was the Spitfire that left me breathless, the beauty of the aerodynamics, the sound that only a Roll-Royce Merlin can produce.

After reading all the literature on R.J Mitchell, and the many marks of Spitfire that were produced, nothing pleases me more than this web site, and its intended purpose.

If it were not for the venerable Spitfire, and the brave young men who flew them, not forgetting their support teams, who worked hard to keep them flying, who knows I may not have been able to type this letter, in England as it is today.

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R.J. Mitchell, Schooldays to Spitfire by Dr Gordon Mitchell. Updated to December 2005 including all the events sponsored by the Sidney E Frank Foundation - Link to The History Press
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