Ernest Mitchelson Mason, DFC
Squadron Leader, 94 Squadron
Service number 40734
Died 15 Feb 1942
Commemorated on Alamein Memorial
Ernest was born on 29 July 1913 in Darlington, County Durham. His mother Teresa Myers was born to Joseph Myers and Sarah nee Cowen and when she became an actress she changed her surname to Mason. Ernest was the illegitimate child of Edward Hill-Mitchelson, a married theatrical proprietor and manager of the touring company where Teresa was employed.
Further information on Ernest’s life will be available soon.
Ernest was commissioned as an acting pilot officer on 7 March 1938 and undertook training at 4 FTS in Egypt. He was confirmed as pilot officer on 7 March 1939. He was initially posted to No. 48 squadron but managed to switch to fighters with No. 80 Squadron flying Gloster Gladiator aircraft. At the end of 1940 he transferred as part of a flight of 80 Squadron forming into 274 Sqn flying Hurricane aircraft. Ernest gained the nickname ‘Imshi’ an Arabic word meaning go away which he used to yell at traders.
Ernest was awarded the D.F.C. London Gazette 11 February 1941. The recommendation states:
‘This Officer has shot down 13 enemy aircraft confirmed and other probables. On 26 January 1941, he shot down 3 enemy aircraft thereby preventing the enemy formation of 9 from attacking forward troops. Flying Officer Mason has pursued the Italian Air Force for months in both the air and on the ground and he was responsible in a large measure for heavy losses caused to enemy aircraft on Aerodromes and retreating M.T. Convoys. He has continually displayed a fine aggressive spirit with outstanding initiative, dash and courage especially during special missions. This immediate award is being held against the Middle East Command allotment for January.’
In mid-March 1941, Mason led a flight of the Squadron’s Hurricanes over to Malta to reinforce 261 Squadron. In April he was attacked by a Me. 109 of 7/JG26 and had to ditch his aircraft in the sea after suffing a bullet wound to his hand. The impact threw him against the windscreen of his Hurricane, breaking his nose, but he was rescued from the sea and evacuated to Malta to recuperate. Back on operations he damaged an Me. 109 over Malta, and in July assumed command of the Squadron. After reforming it in Palestine, Mason led 261 Sqn in operations in support of the occupation of Iran, claiming his final victory, a Hawker Nisr on 26 August.
Early in 1942 he returned to the Western Desert as Commanding Officer of 94 Squadron, but on 15 February, in a strike against Martuba airfield in Libya, he and three other pilots were shot down and killed, probably by the German ace Obfw. Otto Schulz of 11/JG27. Ten days later, on February 25 1942 an Army patrol found Mason’s body inside his crashed Kittyhawk and buried him where he fell.
Ernest wrote many letters to his mother along with photographs. His aunt, Alys Myers, wrote a book which contains the letters that he had written. “IMSHI – A Fighter Pilot’s Letters to his Mother” by Alys Meyers. Published April, 1943.
Information obtained from “Imshi” – Making-History by Mark Beckwith and Wikipedia.