R. J. Mitchell didn’t have a direct personal connexion with Hornchurch but in an imaginative gesture his genius is acknowledged by the school named after him. The incredibly courageous RAF pilots who flew out of Hornchurch flew in Supermarine Spitfires, which Mitchell designed. The Spitfire was so advanced and capable as a fighter plane it made victory over the Luftwaffe possible.Mitchell’s Spitfire designs were a crucial contribution to victory by ‘The Few’.Hornchurch is indelibly identified with the battle of Britain, the Spitfire and R. J. Mitchell.
The school concludes their brief history of the period by saying,
“We do not seek to glorify war, but to remember the sacrifice of brave people in extraordinary circumstances.”
The school reflects the community by honouring the RAF ‘aces’ of the Battle of Britain. This bonds the school with their community. Many of the school’s students come from streets named after fighter ‘aces’ in the immediate area. The school is located in a place which memorialises those fateful years.
Each passing year pushes those existential days further into the mists of history. So does it matter?
History does matter as it gives a sense of place and identity. The rich heritage that is celebrated by R. J. Mitchell School isn’t jingoistic. It’s measured, respectful and is to be applauded.
For a quick biography see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._J._Mitchell
For the excellent R J Mitchell School’s celebration of the history of the community see http://www.rjmitchellprimaryschool.com/havering/primary/rjmitchell/site/pages/welcome/historyofourschool
For R J Mitchell School in 2013 see https://www.teachprimary.com/learning_resources/view/outstanding-schools-rj-mitchell-primary