WILLIAM MITCHELL

Canada's History - - VIMY 100 - Sub­mit­ted by Dan Mitchell, William Mitchell’s great-grand­son.

IT’S THE STARKNESS of the tele­grams sent to sol­diers’ next of kin that strikes you most.

There’s no room for sen­ti­ment, no men­tion of heroic deeds to ease the pain of their loss — just a few short lines that, once read, hit like a punch to the gut.

“To Mrs. E. Mitchell … Deeply re­gret in­form you 406357 Pte. William Mitchell, in­fantry, of­fi­cially re­ported killed in ac­tion April twelfth, nine­teen seven­teen.”

Mrs. E. Mitchell — Ellen — was William’s wife. One can only imag­ine her grief as she re­layed the news of Daddy’s death to their four young chil­dren.

William Mitchell was born in Eng­land in 1877 and fought in the Boer War. He moved to Canada and lived in Mer­rit­ton, On­tario, at the time of the war. Ac­tive in his lo­cal mili­tia, he en­listed in Hamil­ton on April 15, 1915, with the 36th Bat­tal­ion. In France, he was as­signed to the 58th Bat­tal­ion. He took part in the as­sault on Vimy Ridge, and some­time be­tween April 10 and 12 he was killed and then buried in a com­mon grave. Af­ter the war, his body was ex­humed and re­buried in La Chaudiere Ceme­tery in France.

Ellen and William Mitchell and fam­ily, circa 1911.

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