Mitchell, Frank

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Frank Mitchell

631891, Private, Labour Corps
Formerly 4404/531847, Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles (15th London Regiment) Territorial Force
Died after discharge, 15 July 1921, aged 40
Buried at the Great Orme’s Head Cemetery, Llandudno

CWGC registered (no family details)

Frank Mitchell’s case is perplexing. Although his grave is registered with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and his grave is marked with the standard CWGC stone, he is not remembered on any of the Llandudno Memorials. His death in July 1921 would explain why he is not recorded on the Roll of Honour or inscribed upon the War Memorial, but it could have been included on the Marble Tablets in the Memorial Chapel of Holy Trinity Church which were dedicated in 1924. His death from a perforated stomach ulcer must have been considered attributable or partially attributable to his service at the time, otherwise he would not have been considered as one of the war-dead. It is possible that his parents did not consider his death as being service-attributable or perhaps they were unaware of the building of of the Memorial Chapel.

Frank Mitchell was born in Leamington Spa in 1880. He was the son of John Appleby Mitchell and his wife Eliza Maria Mitchell (née Dornan). The Census of the following year records the family of three living at 44 Convent Garden; John Mitchell traded as a family grocer and bath chair man. Ten years later, the family lived at 60 Clarendon Street, Leamington Spa. John Mitchell was described as a bath chair proprietor and grocer. Frank (10) was described as a scholar and he had been joined by three siblings: Rosa (9), Fred (8) and Archibald (2). The family must have moved to Llandudno circa 1893 because from that year, Archibald was recorded at school in the town. In 1901, the family was living at 9 East Parade Llandudno. John Mitchell was now recorded as a town porter and his wife as a lodging house keeper. Frank was described as a bath chairman; Fred was a shop assistant and Archibald was still at school.

In 1903, John Mitchell was declared bankrupt. Nevertheless, he appears to have bounced back for in 1911 he was working on his own account as an outside porter; he and his wife lived at 10 Taliesin Street, Llandudno. A schoolmaster and his family were recorded as lodgers but none of their children were registered at that address: Rosa had married in 1903 and lived in Herefordshire; records for her brothers have not yet been found. A note in a future army medical report states that Frank had previously been a postman and in 1909 had had pain in his stomach lasting for a year.

On 20 November 1914, Frank Mitchell enlisted into the Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles, a Territorial Battalion otherwise known as the 15th (County of London) Battalion of the London Regiment. Those enlisted in 1914 were largely drawn from the Civil Service. He was posted to the 2/15th Battalion which was assigned to the 179th Brigade of the 60th Division. His service number was 4404. He was troubled from time to time with indigestion. The battalion landed at Le Havre on 23 June 1916. On 18 July 1916, he was admitted to hospital with ametropia. Two days later he was admitted to an ophthalmic hospital. He was classified “PU” (permanently unfit?) on 22 January 1917. At around this time he was renumbered 531847. In any event, Frank was no longer fit as a combatant and was ultimately transferred to the Labour Corps. His new service number was 631891 – a soldier with a consecutive number (892), also with eyesight problems, was transferred to the Corps on 18 August 1918. Frank Mitchell was discharged from the army in May 1919. In July 1919, he was taken ill and was diagnosed on 25 September with neurasthenia – a condition presenting mental and physical fatigue with muscle weakness which is no longer reported having been reclassified from neurology to psychology. On 29 December 1919 he was examined at Bangor Military Hospital after complaining of bad nerves and eyesight. It was noted that he had slight tremors of his eyelids and hands. He was awarded a 20% pension of eight shillings per week for a year.

Frank Mitchell died aged 40 at the Ministry of Pensions (formerly Military) Hospital Bangor on 15 July 1921 of a perforated gastric ulcer. He was buried at the Great Orme’s Head Cemetery and because he died before 31 August 1921 and because his death was deemed partially attributable to his service, his grave is registered with the Commonwealth War Grave Commission. Though his last posting was with the Labour Corps, Frank’s headstone names his regiment as the Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles. This is because the Labour Corps was not viewed in an heroic light.  CWGC records indicate that his address was 10 Talioson (sic) Street, Llandudno.

Frank has a standard CWGC headstone in the Great Orme Cemetery and is also remembered in the same location on the headstone of his parents who died in 1925 and 1927. Frank died too late to be remembered on the Llandudno Roll of Honour (1921) and possibly on the War Memorial (1922). Why he is not remembered in the Memorial Chapel of Holy Trinity Church (1924) is unknown.

Known memorials:

  • Parents’ headstone in the Great Orme’s Head Cemetery.

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