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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The naming of the new aeroplane was carried out by the directors of Supermarine, who for a time were considering calling it “The Shrew”. However, the decision was finally taken to keep the name given originally to the Type 224 – the Spitfire. Mitchell’s sister-in-law Elsie recalls him saying: “Bloody silly sort of a name.”
    In 1932 Mitchell was awarded the CBE for his outstanding work. In 1933 he was diagnosed with cancer of the rectum and in August that year he had a colostomy bag strapped to his side. He was a shining example to cancer sufferers of how you can carry on without fear of embarrassment or indignity.
    In 1936 Mitchell was again diagnosed to have cancer and in February 1937 went into a London hospital but was home soon afterwards. Mitchell had to give up work, but watched the Spitfire test flights at Eastleigh airfield from his car when he should have been at home resting.
    He flew to Vienna for treatment in April 1937 but returned to England at the end of May.
    During the last months of his life he would sit in his garden, admire the flowers and listen to the birds singing. He died of cancer on 11 June 1937 aged 42. Responsibility for the development of the Spitfire fell to ‘Joe’ Smith, who had been Supermarine’s chief draughtsman for many years.
    The era of the monoplane piston-engined fighter lasted only about 15 years from around 1935 to 1950. The Spitfire was unique in that it was the only aircraft to span this whole period and stay supreme. This was the true mark of Mitchell’s genius.
    Thanks primarily to Mitchell’s genius, Britain was able to give to its heroic young pilots a fighting plane which was the equal, or better, of anything then available in the world. Indeed, so good was this airframe, that it remained in service until 1963, and even achieved latterly a speed of 680mph, which was almost twice that of the original version. It was arguably the greatest machine ever designed both in form and function. He was never to know the Spitfire’s success.
    Brother Mitchell resigned from Jasper Lodge in February 1934, citing his inability to attend regularly. He did, however, join Lodge of Concord No. 4910 in Southampton in September 1931. His last attendance there is recorded as being in January 1936. That Lodge clearly kept in contact thereafter with Bro Mitchell.


Below
A 1940 water colour by Raymond McGrath of fitters working on a Spitfire



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