Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Although Frederick, his mother and all six of his siblings were born in Portsmouth, his father Henry came instead from Guildford and moved to the Borough in the early 1880s. The reason for Henry's change of location is not known for certain but it seems likely that it was connected to his work on the railways as he was a clerk for them both before and after the move.
Henry had been born in Guildford in 1859 to parents Francis and Mary Mitchell and had only been in Portsmouth a year or two when, at the end of 1884, he married Caroline Matilda, daughter of Stephen and Sarah Lawrance of 29 St. George's Square, Portsea. The 1891 census records the couple living at 11 Sydenham Terrace, adjacent to the railway line into the centre of the town. With them were four children, Francis (b. 1886), Marguerite (b. 1887), Beatrice (b. 1889) and Ada (also known as Winifred, b. 1891).
By 1901 the family had moved to 274 Fawcett Road in Southsea and grown by the addition of three more children, Frederick Lawrance (b. 1894), Elsie (b. 1897) and Mercy (b. 1899). Another ten years passed and the family were living at 128 High Street, Old Portsmouth, which Henry had bought from Harold Wyllie, the son of the great maritime painter William Wyllie. The move represented a significant improvement in the family's circumstances. In 1911, most of the daughters were still in the household but Frederick Lawrance had already left to join the army.
It is interesting to note that the family home on High Street was known as Leinster House, and that it was Frederick's choice to join the Leinster Regiment. It is not known what connection the family may have had to Leinster. At the time the Great War was declared Frederick's battalion was in Cork and did not get sent to France until 12th September 1914 when they landed at St. Nazaire. As part of the 6th Division they took part in the actions on the Aisne Heights and at Chivy. Frederick had then been in the regiment long enough to have been promoted to sergeant but he didn't live to enjoy it for long as he was killed in November 1914.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission list Sergeant Frederick Lawrance Mitchell (9354), 2nd Battalion, Leinster Regiment, died 20/11/1914. Buried at the Strand Military Cemetery, (Grave Ref: IX.F.1.). Son of Henry and Caroline Matilda Mitchell, of 128, High St., Portsmouth.
Frederick Mitchell is remembered on the Anglican Cathedral WW1 Memorial Cross, and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War', Section X.
The history of 128 High Street, Old Portsmouth is dealt with at length in the 1860 Old Portsmouth Project.
Tim Backhouse
November 2014