William Mitchell (RAF officer)

Air Chief Marshal Sir William Gore Sutherland Mitchell, KCB, CBE, DSO, MC, AFC (8 March 1888 – 15 August 1944) was a senior commander in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the first RAF officer to hold the post of Black Rod.

Sir William Gore Sutherland Mitchell
Born(1888-03-08)8 March 1888
Cumberland, Australia
Died15 August 1944(1944-08-15) (aged 56)
Westminster, England
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army (1906–18)
Royal Air Force (1918–41)
Years of service1906–41
RankAir Chief Marshal
Commands heldInspector-General of the RAF (1940–41)
RAF Middle East (1939–40)
Air Member for Personnel (1937–38)
British Forces in Iraq (1934–37)
RAF Cranwell (1933–34)
Aden Command (1928–29)
No. 1 Flying Training School (1924–25)
No. 1 (Indian) Wing (1920–24)
No. 52 (Corps) Wing (1920)
No. 20 Group (1918–19)
12th (Corps) Wing (1916–18)
No. 10 Squadron (1916)
Battles/warsFirst World War Waziristan[1]
Second World War
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross
Air Force Cross
Mentioned in Despatches (5)
Other workCommandant London Air Training Command
Black Rod

RAF careerEdit

Commissioned into the Devonshire Regiment in 1906, Mitchell spent his early military years as an infantry subaltern.[2] He attended the Central Flying School in 1913, being awarded his Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate no. 483 on 17 May 1913, before becoming a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps.[2] During the First World War he saw rapid advancement, serving as Officer Commanding No. 10 Squadron, Officer Commanding 12th (Corps) Wing and Officer Commanding No. 20 Group.[2]

After the war he moved to India and commanded No. 52 (Corps) Wing and No. 3 (Indian) Wing (subsequently redesignated No. 1 (Indian) Wing).[2] He was appointed Officer Commanding, No. 1 Flying Training School in 1924, Group Captain – Administration at RAF Halton in 1925 and Officer Commanding Aden Command in 1928.[2] He went on to be Director of Training at the Air Ministry in 1929 before being made Air Officer Commanding RAF Cranwell in 1933, Air Officer Commanding British Forces in Iraq in 1934 and Air Member for Personnel in 1937.[2]

Mitchell served in the Second World War as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief RAF Middle East from March 1939,[3] and then Inspector-General of the RAF before retiring in 1941.[2]

In retirement he served as Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod.[4] He held the post of Commandant of London Air Training Command from 1942 until his death in 1944 from a heart attack.[2]



  • Playfair, Major-General I.S.O.; with Stitt R.N., Commander G.M.S.; Molony, Brigadier C.J.C. & Toomer, Air Vice-Marshal S.E. (2004) [1st. pub. HMSO 1954]. Butler, J.R.M (ed.). The Mediterranean and Middle East, Volume I The Early Successes Against Italy (to May 1941). History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series. Naval & Military Press. ISBN 1-84574-065-3.

External linksEdit

Military offices
New title
Command established
Commander, Aden Command
Succeeded by
Cuthbert MacLean
Preceded by
Hugh Dowding
Director of Training
Succeeded by
Christopher Courtney
Preceded by
Arthur Longmore
RAF College Commandant
Succeeded by
Henry Cave-Browne-Cave
Preceded by
Charles Burnett
Air Officer Commanding British Forces in Iraq
Succeeded by
Christopher Courtney
Preceded by
Frederick Bowhill
Air Member for Personnel
Succeeded by
Charles Portal
Preceded by
Hazelton Nicholl
As Air Officer Commanding
Commander-in-Chief Middle East Command
Succeeded by
Sir Arthur Longmore
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir William Pulteney
Black Rod
Succeeded by
Sir Geoffrey Blake