Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Typical of many families in Portsmouth, the Mitchell's were more or less defined by their roles in the Royal Navy. Herbert Lewis Mitchell's father James who was born in Dundee came to Portsmouth around 1880 either to join the Navy or as an initial posting. He was possibly already with his wife Isabella who was also born in Scotland, but if not, then the 1891 census certainly shows them together at 9 Prince's Street, Portsea.

James, who was an artificer, was away at sea for the census in 1901, but Isabella is shown living at 90 Telephone Road, Southsea with their children, James (b. 1892), Herbert Lewis (b. 1894), Edgar (b. 1898), Isabella or Edith (b. 1899) and Margaret (b. 1901). James was at home for the 1911 Census which shows that he had attained the rank of Chief Artificer Engineer. The family were then living at 106 Francis Avenue, Southsea.
Herbert Lewis had joined the Secondary School in Victoria Road North, Southsea in 1905 and stayed there until 1909. By the time he left, Herbert had been successful in the Examination of the Civil Service Commission and, following his father's lead, became a Boy Artificer on H.M.S. Fisgard. At the conclusion of his training he was sent to H.M.S. Hindustan and later to H.M.S. Invincible.
He took part in three important naval engagements, being present at the Battle of Heligoland Bight on 28th August, 1914, when German cruisers were sunk, at the Battle of Falkland Islands on 8th December, 1914, when the German East Asia Squadron was destroyed, and again at the Battle of Jutland on the 31st May, 1916. In the last and greatest fight the Invincible, leading the Third Battle Cruiser Squadron, was hit and sunk at about 6.30 in the evening. The Admiral, the Captain and, with a few exceptions, the whole crew perished.
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 Engine Room Artificer Herbert Lewis Mitchell (M/1125), date of death, 31/05/1916, aged 22. He has no known grave.
Herbert Mitchell's name appears on the Southern Grammar School WW1 Memorial, the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 15), The (original) St. Matthews Church Memorial and the Cenotaph.
The entry for Herbert Mitchell in the Southern Grammar School booklet indicates that he had two brothers who were also killed in the war. As he only had two brothers they must have been James and Edgar but neither has been conclusively identified on the CWGC website whilst both are probably named on the Cenotaph.
Tim Backhouse
December 2013