War Veteran Returns Home After 60 Years


The 26 members of the Jamaica Society Leeds will be vacationing on the island in mid-March, and for one member of the group, it will be a very special visit to the homeland he has not seen since he was 18 years old.
Marcus Mitchell’s strong Jamaican accent belies the fact that he has not visited his homeland for some 60 year. Mitch, as he is affectionately known, left Jamaica in 1944 to join the British Royal Air Force (RAF), where he fought in Word War II.
He told JIS news that he was looking forward to this visit to Jamaica although he knows that much has changed over the years.
“I am thinking that it’s a blessing after such a long time to see my beloved island. It will be a bit of a surprise for me and different because when I was there, there use to be trains running. It will be a very big surprise for me”, he said.
Mitch was born in Manchester but lived in Franklyn Town in Kingston and attended the Allman Town School where his sister Lucille Maude Morrison, later served as principal.
“I remember Kingston very well as it was then. There was a meat market on Princess Street, the police Station on East Queen’s Street, Powel’s Bakery and going to Hope Gardens. When I left home there was no Montego Bay airport and the airport in Kingston was Palisadoes. I remember the trains and I use to really like the trains,” he fondly recalled.
Mitch spent five years in the RAF following which he worked in various jobs before marrying wife Girda in 1950. The couple have two children, a son and a daughter.
In 1962, Mitch joined the Territorial Army and remained a member for 16 and a half years after which he worked in the coalmines and operated his own painting and decorating business until his retirement. Mitch is a founding member of the Jamaica Society Leeds.
Mitch told JIS News that he had been toying with the idea of returning to Jamaica for sometime and it was through the encouragement of friends and the Jamaica High Commission in London, that the upcoming visit had become possible. “I am really looking forward to going back now”, he stated.
The group’s 15-day visit to the island, from March 10 to 24, will include: the launch of the publication ‘A Journey Through our History, the Story of Jamaicans in Leeds and the Jamaica Society Leeds’; tour of the Appleton Estate; and rafting on the Rio Grande in Portland. The group will also make a presentation to infirmaries in Jamaica.

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