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P/O Kenneth Osborne Mitchell (JR439) RCAF

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Cairn memorial to P/O Mitchell

On the 18th March 1944 RCAF squadrons 439 and 440 were moving from RAF Ayr to RAF Hurn (Bournemouth) via RAF Woodvale in Lancashire. The 2 squadrons consisted of a mixture of Hawker Hurricanes and Hawker Typhoons in preparation for the D-Day landings. During the first leg of the flight to RAF Woodvale P/O Mitchell was seen to lose control of the Typhoon and dived into the ground near the Dumfries to Stranraer railway line, just to the west of the Little Water of Fleet viaduct.

In the same flight Hawker Hurricane IV from 439 squadron (LD594) was also lost. It wasn’t until the next day that JR439 and P/O Mitchell were found, the speed at which his Typhoon hit the ground meant that Kenneth Mitchell could not have survived.

The large remains of the aircraft and Kenneth were recovered, P/O Mitchell laid to rest in Ayr cemetery next to the pilot of Hurricane LD594. The cause of his sudden loss of control was never found, it could have been down to being overcome by fumes, structural failure or simply the pilot becoming disorientated.

 

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Viaduct on the way to the crash site


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Typhoon wreckage surrounding the cairn


Kenneth Mitchell was just 22 years old when he was lost in JR439. A Cairn was built some time ago at the location of the accident, part of the reduction gear cemented into the top. Parts from JR439 are some of the first to be reverese engineered and were vital to record. In addition, the items collected from the site will be invaluable for reverse engineering areas of the airframe where drawings do not exist.

More photos from the recovery of JR439 can be viewed in the Gallery by clicking here.