ANZAC DAY Blog Challenge - Alan Seabrook Mitchell (1917 - 1943)

Following the success of the Australia Day Blog Challenge and the Waitangi Day Challenge, a new blogging challenge has been set. This is a joint challenge for Aussies and New Zealanders.

Do you have an Australian or New Zealander in your family tree who was killed in military operations? If so, we'd like to hear about not only their sacrifice, but the way their loss shaped their family history.

This challenge is quite difficult for me because I'm not sure who to choose. In my close family no one went to war. Fortunately, my father and grandfathers were the wrong age, so we were spared the anguish of war. However, there are several young men in our extended family who were killed and now I have the task of choosing one.

This information is taken from my book Crossing the Seas to Build a Future with further information I have discovered since writing. Research is never completed is it?

Allan Seabrook Mitchell (1917 - 1943)

Alan, the second of three sons of William Charles Mitchell and his wife Ruby Vera Gladys Seabrook of Melbourne was born on 25th September 1917. On 12th September 1941 he joined the RAAF and became part of the 460 Squadron.

The 460 Squadron was formed on 15th November 1941, and commenced bombing operations on 12th March 1942, flying 538 Wellington sorties from Breighton, Yorkshire. Conversion to four-engined bombers commenced in October 1942 and bombing re-commenced with Lancasters, in November 1942. The squadron moved to Bimbrook, Lincolnshire in May 1943, and operated from there until hostilities ceased.

P. Firkins has written a book titled Strike and return: The unit history of No. 460 R.A.A.F. Heavy Bomber Command in World War Two. This fantastic book describes each of the bombing raids conduced by the 460 Squadron. This means I could find out exactly what happened the night Alan Seabrook Mitchell died.

October opened with a series of heavy attacks in support of Bomber Command's continued devastation of the German war industry....The following night (2/10/43) Munich was again attacked and damage to railway communications and the I.G. Farben instrument factory made the raid worth while, although it was far from being the perfect operation.
Two new tactical innovations were introduced on this raid in an effort to increase the bombing accuracy of the crews. The first was for Pathfinders to drop flares over the Wurm Lake so that the aircraft could make a timed run to the centre of Munich and the second was to assist the bombers escape the heavy, almost crippling losses being inflicted by night fighters. This was done by an angle interposed in the bombers' withdrawal route, so that the Germans, already airborne and ready to attack, would assemble in incorrect positions. This tactic was adopted from the navy's 'diversionary routing,' which had been employed successfully in the Atlantic to escape U-boats known to be massing for attack. As a result of the second of these tactics being used the losses were reduced very considerable, only seven of the total force of 273 being lost, but ironically two were from the squadron. (Firkins 2000, p. 88-89)

Nelmes and Jenkin's book G-for-George A Memorial to RAAF Bomber Crews 1939 - 1945 also describes the night of 2 October 1943.

Time up 1851, time down 0255. Bomb load 1 x 4000lb HC, 48 x 30lb incendiaries, 600 x 4lb incendiaries, 30 x 4lb incendiaries "X" filled. Attacked at 2238 hours from 19 000 feet. No cloud, visibility good. Target seen with the aid of red, yellow and green and built up areas, also DR run from lake - bombed centre of reds. Many glowing fires and smoke concentrated around markers. Boozer servicable. "We should not have to go back again as it was a very good prang. many aircraft had navigation lights on half way across the English Channel", said the pilot on his return.

Of the 296 (not difference from above) 8 planes were lost. Of the 18, 460 Squadron planes,  two -  JA856 C for Charlie and W4301 H for Harry were lost. (Nelmes 2010, p. 124)

Unfortunately, one of the two losses from the squadron was the Lancaster JA856 being flown by Flight Sergeant Frank Leathley Robinson Lloyd. Pilot Officer Alan Seabrook Mitchell, a Bomb Aimer, was on his first bombing raid that night.  Alan and Frank were killed along with Sergeant R Hurrell (Navigator), Sergeant R E Woodford, (Wireless Operator), Sergeant G Douglas (Engineer), Sergeant A Sim, and Flight Sergeant F Sheehan (Upper and Read Gunners).

The Bomber command accounted for less than 2% of Australians who enlisted in WW2, yet they accounted for almost 20% of all combat deaths. (Alan Stephens) It seemed their survival odds were not high.

Alan Seabrook Mitchell is buried at the Durnbach War Cemetery (Plot 9 Row B Grave 2) in Germany. Durnback is a village 16km east of Bad Tolz, which is 48km from Munich. The majority of the 2 934 burials are those of airmen. Alan's name can be found on memorial panel 108 at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. His details are also on the Roll of Honour database.

Mitchell, A.S.  (409567) Memorial Panel 108 Australian War Memorial
The following are details of the other airmen killed with Alan Mitchell that night.

Lloyd, Frank Leathley Robinson, 29, son of Clarence and Amy Lloyd of Normanhurst, NSW. Royal Australian Air Force. Buried 9.B.1
Hurrell, Raymond, 22, son of Mr and Mrs S.E. Hurrell, of West Bromwich, Staffordshire. Royal Air Force Reserve. Buried 9.B.4  
Woodford, Reginald Edgar, 20, son of Edgar and Elsie Woodford, Leicester. Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Buried 9.B.5
Douglas, George, Royal Airforce Volunteer Reserve. 9.B.6 (No details about age and next of kin)
Sim, Leslie Alexander, Royal Airforce Volunteer Reserve. 9.B.3 (No details about age and next of kin)
Sheehan, Francis, Royal Canadian Air Force 9.B.7-11. (No details about his age or next of kin)

It is comforting to know that they are buried together.
After the war it was determined that the plane crashed at Deisenhofen, 13 miles SSE of the centre of Munich. AWM

The following obituary appeared in The Argus and his parents and family placed In Memorium notices in the paper for many years.

The Argus Friday 17 December 1943, p. 5.


  1. Thanks for your post. the RAAF/RAF were so brave ..their losses were enormous and you've brought the family costmto life.


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