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  • Christina Drummond

Private George Allan Mitchell V.C., 1st Battalion, the London Scottish (Gordon Highlanders)

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1944, Private George Allan Mitchell V.C., 1st Battalion, the London Scottish (Gordon Highlanders), was killed in action at Damiano Ridge in Italy.

He attended Farmer Road Boys’ School (later named after him) in Leyton, and enlisted in the army before the outbreak of the second world war. He went to Italy with his battalion in late 1943 as part of the invasion, and in the early hours of the morning of the 24th of January, 1944, his actions gained for him the award of the Victoria Cross.

His company had been ordered to carry out an attack on the Damiano Ridge; the only two officers were wounded early on, the platoon commander was killed right after ordering a movement against enemy machine guns, and there was no platoon sergeant. As they advanced, they were met with point-blank range heavy machine gun fire. Private Mitchell charged alone up the hill with a rifle and bayonet, through intense fire, and killed the machine-gun crew, enabling his platoon to continue. Once again they came under heavy fire by the enemy, and Private Mitchell went forward followed by what remained of his section; they killed six Germans and took twelve prisoners. Shortly afterwards, another enemy machine gun fired on them, and Private Mitchell went forward, alone again, and killed the crew.

His citation takes up the story: “The section now found itself immediately below the crest of the hill from which heavy small arms fire was being directed and grenades were being thrown. Private Mitchell's ammunition was exhausted, but in spite of this he called on the men for one further effort and again led the assault up the steep and rocky hillside. Dashing to the front, he was again the first man to reach the enemy position and was mainly instrumental in forcing the remainder of the enemy to surrender. A few minutes later, a German who had surrendered, picked up a rifle and shot Private Mitchell through the head.” He is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Minturno War Cemetery ( also known as the New Military Cemetery, Sessa Arunca ) overlooking the Garigliano River and Damiano Mountains.

George, from Highgate in London, was 32 years old.

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