Arthur James Mitchell
2nd Battalion Sherwood Foresters Regiment
Killed In Action - 20th October 1914
On completion of his 7 years’ service Arthur returned to New Whittington, he was now back in civilian life, knowing that if his country needed him he may be called back up to serve. On the 1911 census he was aged 27 years old and had returned to work as a coal miner. The family still live at 87 South Street, nothing much had changed. Two of Arthur’s sisters were not at home; Lucy would now be 21 years old. Her name has been written on the census but then a line crossed through it. I have not found her on any other census return for that year so it does look like she may well have normally been living at home. Lucy’s crossed out name may well have been an act of rebellion on behalf of the women’s suffrage movement that was popular at this time. Lucy could very well have crossed through her own name on the census return as a protest if she was a suffragette; no vote, no information for the government!
James Craig the husband of Rose Ellen was also to enlist in the months that followed; he arrived in France on 31st August 1914 with the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders.
On the 20th September it was reported that the Germans had taken over the trenches to right of the B.E.F line, these trenches were important to the defence of the surrounding B.E.F trenches and so an attack was made by the battalion to retake the trenches. Arthur may have witnessed the Germans marching away members of the B.E.F who were now prisoners of war. The battalions attack was met by heavy machine gun fire by the German army. The trenches were taken back by the battalion however there were losses.
It is also noted how immensely outnumbered the B.E.F was on those 48 hours of attack. The registers and rolls of the men were lost when the battalion headquarters was shelled so it is difficult to state exactly how many men suffered during those two days but the numbers are estimated in the regimental history as -
The village of New Whittington would spend the coming years receiving messages similar to that of the postcard sent to Mrs Magness. The Derbyshire Times would become a place of notification of these deaths, missing in action and of course some promotions and acts of bravery were also mentioned.
If you are descendant of the Mitchell family and would like to add your own family "story" then please do feel free to contact me.
With thanks to -
Members of the WW1 Forum for all their expert advise when I have needed it http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/
Mike Briggs for the pages of the Regimental History of the 2nd Battalion Sherwood Foresters.
Reference and further reading -
2nd Battalion War Diaries http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/war-diaries-ww1.htm
Newspaper articles - Derbyshire Times