Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

It's by no means uncommon to find a son following in the footsteps of his father, especially when the father was in the navy, but it doesn't happen very often when the father is a piano tuner. Nevertheless, the career choice for both Charles Gerald and his father John Herbert Mitchell involved the pianoforte.
John Herbert was not a native of Portsmouth having been born at Halifax in Yorkshire in 1859. It was there too that he married Sarah Jane Lamb in 1886. She was born in Great Ouseburn, also in Yorkshire in 1863. It's not clear exactly when or why the couple moved to Portsmouth but they had certainly done so by 1891 when the census recorded them at 9 Eton Road, off Rugby Road, Southsea, with their first two children, Charles Gerald (b. 1887) and Clement (b. 1890).
Between 1899 and 1900 Charles Gerald was attending the Higher Grade School on Victoria Road North which stood just a few yards north of the family home. School records do not tell us how well he did there but they do suggest that he had identified piano tuning as a career very soon after leaving. By 1911 the family had moved the short distance to 66 Bradford Road and John Herbert had exchanged piano tuning for that of their repair. It's tempting to suggest he did so due to a failure in his hearing and that Charles Gerald had stepped in to replace those skills.

Whether that is true or not it did not last as sometime after 1911 Charles Gerald emigrated to Rhodesia, South Africa where presumably he plied the same trade. After the outbreak of the Great War he responded to the call for volunteers to serve overseas by joining the Colonial Forces, enlisting as a Gunner in the South African Heavy Artillery. With the 73rd Siege Battery he was conveyed to France.
On the l0th April, 1917, while this unit was taking part in the great British Offensive in front of Arras, Charles Gerald Mitchell was killed. His body was laid to rest to the north-west of the town in the Ecoivres Military Cemetery. Later his Captain wrote:- "Your son was a good comrade and soldier and the South African Artillery loses one of its best members by his death."
Further Information
The photograph above is taken from a memorial booklet published by Southern Grammar School from which extracts also appear above.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website lists Gunner Charles Gerald Mitchell (1032), South African Heavy Artillery, date of death, 20/04/1917, buried at the Ecoivres Military Cemetery, Mont-St. Eloi (Grave Ref: VI.F.28.).
Charles Mitchell is remembered on the Southern Grammar School WW1 Memorial and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.