Personnel Index - Detail
26/27 June, 1940; MINELAYING/COMMUNICATIONS:
The momentous events in the skies over Kent marked 26th June 1940 as the day that the 'Battle of Britain' began. Many of the bomber crews up in the north eastern counties, were unaware of happenings in the south, or its significance, for them it was 'ops again tonight' as usual. Orders came through from Group by 15.00hrs; 8 aircraft required for bombing and a further 7 for minelaying. The bombers’ targets consisted of Marshalling yards, trains, aerodromes and canal barges. Take-off began at 21.00hrs with 2 aircraft departing every 5 minutes. The minelayers were to operate in the Kiel area, and it was over the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal that F/Lt Mitchell's P4305, sustained flak damage, which brought the Hampden down. F/Lt Mitchell and air gunner, P/O Reavall-Carter survived to become POW's. The remaining two crew members, Sgt's Bill Spickett and Ron Dutton, were sadly both killed; they are buried in Kiel War Cemetery.
P/O Reavall-Carter took part in the famous 'Great Escape' from Stalag Luft III at Sagan. He was actually caught at the exit from the tunnel and put back inside the camp. Perhaps this helped save his life, for had he been re-taken at large, he would most probably have been one of the fifty who were murdered by the Germans after being recaptured.
F/L B.A. Mitchell Pilot (P.o.W.)
P/O L. Reavell-Carter (P.o.W.)
Sgt R.L.J. Dutton W/OP (Killed)
Sgt W.A. Spickett (Killed)
49Sqn were send (anonymously) two pages of a document which describes in very great detail the loss of this aircraft.
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Courtesy of Dom Howard we have a PoW postcard sent by F/L Basil Mitchell.
My dear Peggy - Had two letters from you this month, many thanks indeed.
They take 3 or 4 months by post, if you send then air mail they take a month.
All well and cheerful here and pretty hot weather now, must be near 90ºF.
Drain(?) has gone at last. He had a long time in Lincoln.
All much excited here about Russia and hope it will shorten the war.
It seems amazing that I have been here a year in a day or two and, oh boy, will I make up for it when I get home.
Had a letter from Crofty a day or two ago.
Hope I hear from you soon.
With love, Basil.
Sadly, he had a long time to wait before the war ended.