ISSUE 17, April 2006
Editorial
Historic: The Brother who designed the Spitfire
Travel: The charm of Kerala
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's speech and Quarterly Communication
Public Relations: Hottest spot in town
International: Emulation in Bulgaria and Mauritius takes a leap forward and Hungary's Royal Arch library
Library & Museum: Recent acquisitions
Masonic Bibles: Lodges and their Bibles
    Royal Masonic Girls' School: My thanks to the Freemasons
Holocaust: The Count of Auschwitz
Education: International conference on the history of Freemasonry and Events
Specialist Lodges: Masonry universal - via radio
Masonic Charities: Grand Charity continues to help those in need and New Masonic Samaritan Fund and Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
Grand Charity: The Tsunami - one year on and Important Gift Aid information
Letters, Book Reviews, and Gardening

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Above
The statue to RJ Mitchell on display at the Science Museum, London

Below
A spitfire in the distinguishing black and white stripes used for identification on D-Day

   The word ‘genius’, like many in the English language, has become much over used in recent years and in consequence greatly devalued. There are, however, few men who more richly deserve this description than the ‘Forgotten Hero’ Reginald Joseph Mitchell.
    In so far as the general public recognises his name, Reginald (RJ) Mitchell is forever linked as the designer of the iconoclastic Spitfire fighter plane. His achievements, however, were so much more.
    Within Freesasonry, even fewer will know of his membership of the Craft from aged 26 until his tragically early death aged 42.
    Mitchell was born in 1895 at Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, one of five children. His father was a Yorkshire teacher who later owned a significant printing company in the area. Mitchell senior was himself a Freemason and the founding organist and later Master in 1923 of Jasper Lodge No. 3934 meeting (as it still does) at Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. It was into this Lodge, on Friday, 13th May 1921, that R J Mitchell was initiated as a Lewis.
    Mitchell’s education and early years gave little indication of what was to come. There is anecdotal evidence that as a youngster he was already fascinated by the new invention called the airplane (it should be remembered that it was only in 1903 that the Wright Brothers achieved powered flight and several more years before any working airplane flew over Britain).
    Otherwise his education was unremarkable. He was clearly bright, and a competent athlete but, as is so often the case, little to mark him out at that stage of his life. Indeed, at his father’s insistence, Mitchell was apprenticed at 16 to a local electrical engineering company, a job he apparently hated. He also attended night school, where he later taught for a time.
    It must have come as a bolt from the blue when, having applied for and secured a job in faraway Southampton with the small Supermarine company, he told his family of his immediate move to take up the appointment.
    The company he joined was a modest part of the newly-created British aviation industry, and at the time Supermarine specialised in building seaplanes. Such planes had many advantages during this period, not least the ease of finding somewhere to land!
    It was at Supermarine that R J Mitchell did all his work as an aircraft designer. When the company was absorbed into the Vickers industrial empire in 1928, Mitchell was made a director, and his financial was situation enhanced considerably.



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