Friday, September 18, 2009

G/16155 John Wilfred Mitchell, 12th Royal Sussex Regiment

Chailey Parish Magazine first notes John Mitchell serving his King and Country in its March 1915 issue. In October 1915 it states, Mitchell, Lance-Corporal J, 2/4th Royal Sussex, England and in November 1916 updates this information to report that he is in France. This latter information is certainly incorrect as the 2/4th Battalion, formed at Horsham in January 1915, remained in England throughout the war until disbanded in November 1917. He probably went overseas as a 2/4th Battalion man and was posted, on arrival there, to the 1/4th Battalion.

John Mitchell appears to have served throughout the war, his name appearing up to and including the final published roll call in July 1919.  His medal index card notes two army numbers for him: 2170 and G/16155.

G/16155 belongs to a block of numbers issued to men who joined the Southdown battalions in France and John Mitchell's entry in the British War and Victory medal roll confirms that he was posted to the 12th battalion. Later on, he was posted again, this time to the 8th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment.

He is probably the same John Mitchell who was the fourth eldest child in a family of nine children (eight of them boys). His parents, Charles and Emily Mitchell, were married in 1880 and by the time the 1881 census was taken they were living at 1 Upper Birchland, Newick. Both were aged 22 with Charles (born in Lindfield) working as an agricultural labourer.

Ten years on, by the time the 1891 census was taken, Charles and Emily were living at what looks like Plummers Den Cottage No 1 in Lindfield and had five children: Charles Mitchell (aged nine), Henry J Mitchell (aged eight), Alfred Thomas Mitchell (aged six), John Mitchell (aged three) and Albert Basil Mitchell (aged eleven months).

By the time the 1901 census was taken the family was still living at the same Lindfield address but there were now more brothers – and a sister. New arrivals and their ages in 1901 were: Elsie Mitchell (aged seven), Walter Mitchell (aged five), Wallace Sidney Mitchell (aged four) and Maurice Gilbert Mitchell (aged nine months).

John Mitchell’s brothers Albert, Alfred, Henry, Wallace (Sidney) and Maurice, also served during the First World War. All of them survived. Their distant relatives, the Plummer brothers were less fortunate. Albert, Alexander and Owen Plummer all lost their lives.

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