Personnel Index - Detail
26/27 April, 1944; SCHWEINFURT:
Mosquitoes of 627 Squadron, Woodhall Spa, used 5 Group's low-level marking technique for the first time. The attempt was not accurate and much of the bombing fell outside Schweinfurt. Meanwhile, German night fighters had managed to penetrate the 215 strong main force taking a heavy toll; 21 Lancasters failed to return. The Fiskerton squadron had 15 aircraft airborne by 21.40hrs.
P/O Robert Montgomery and four fellow members of his crew are buried in Bure Churchyard, Meuse. The two gunners, F/Sgt Baker RAAF (rear gunner) and Sgt Mitchell (mid-upper) managed to parachute to safety.
Lancaster JB679 (EA-D)
P/O R. Montgomery Pilot (Killed)
Sgt R.J. Boyce F/E (Killed)
F/S S. Smith NAV (Killed)
Sgt T. Parkin W/AG (Killed)
Sgt R.J. Mitchell A/G (Evader)
P/O R.F. Cluff RCAF B/A (Killed)
F/S J. Baker RAAF A/G (P.o.W.)
Airman on his 10th operation
R J Mitchell with his mother taken in Seaham at the time of his enlistment into the RAF in December 1939.
Information received from his son, Alan Mitchell MBE:
You may not be aware but after enlisting he was posted to the Middle East in February 1941 and attached to 148 Squadron as ground crew between April 1941 and August 1942. He then volunteered for aircrew and is shown as being posted to 16 Operational Training Unit in September 1943 and then 1668 Conversion Unit on 15th November 1943 and then 51 Base on 25th November 1943. He arrived at 49 Squadron on 20th February 1944. In the early hours of 27 April 1944 Richard Mitchell found himself all alone in the middle of a French field. The events that followed are told in Richard's own words and are taken from his Swiss POW report:
"After walking for 1 1/2 days, I was met by a Frenchman who escorted me to the Police station where I was handed over to the local doctor, After a period of about two weeks, during which time I received treatment for my injuries. I was then sent to another house some 20 kilometeres away where I made contact with the organisation.
They gave me an Identity card, food and a place to sleep for about three weeks. (Sgt Mitchell stayed in the house of Madame Helene Descharmes called ‘The Hermitage’ and is in the village of Cuves in Haute Marne). These people provided a car to the railway station of Chaumont and purchased my ticket to Besancon where I changed trains for Montbeliard and also provided me with an escort. At Montbeliard I was provided with a bicycle and guide, and taken within 6 kilomteres of the Swiss border. From here I was taken to Switzerland by an unknown guide."
Richard Mitchell arrived in Switzerland on 20 June 1944 and by 6 September was back in the UK at the personnel holding flight in Morcambe. Sgt Mitchell was not required to go back to operational flying and after technical training he was posted to No. 2 Flying Instructors School until demob in November 1946. He soon re-enlisted, becoming an Air Traffic Controller; sadly after illness, W/O Mitchell died in 1968.
F/S Baker RAAF became a POW in camp 357, Kopernikus.
Hauptman Helmut Bergmann of 8 NJG4 shot down three Lancasters in 11 minutes.
- JB601 of 106Sqn: 26th kill at 00.50hrs
- JB679 of 49Sqn: 27th kill at 00.57hrs
- LL908 of 49sqn: 28th kill at 01.01hrs
Interception was at an altitude of 12,000ft, near Ugny, 15kms SW of Toul.
It would appear that he used 'Schrage Musik' cannon to despatch these aircraft.
Click this link to view details of Hauptman Bergmann together with the full combat report and English translation.
On the the control tower walkway at RAF Masirah (off the East coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea) where he was an Air Traffic Controller between 1960/61.
Taken at the family home in Seaham (Co. Durham) in his Warrant Officer's uniform just weeks before his sudden death which occurred in June 1968.
He was stationed at RAF Linton on Ouse as Air Traffic Controller.
He was only 46 years old when he died.
‘Princess Road Cemetery’, Princess Road, Seaham, County Durham, SR7 7TD.
Both my Mother and Father were raised in families with close links to the Salvation Army and my Dad followed the tradition of being a talented musician playing brass instruments and the piano.
(The crest on the small flower vase is that of the Salavation Army).
All images are courtesy of his son, Alan Mitchell MBE