Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Although both Lawrence and his father George Augustus were born in Portsmouth, his grand-father George Henry was not. The records are not clear about George Henry's parents but it is known that he was born at Cowes on the Isle of Wight in 1842. His mother was called Jane and she seems to have been widowed in the 1840s but his father's name has not been traced.
The 1851 census contains the earliest record of George Henry in Portsmouth when he was staying with relatives at 12 Bedford Street. Ten years later he was at 14 Salem Street, just south of Guildhall Square, a lodging house run by his mother. He was then described as a coach builder's apprentice. In 1864 he married Fanny Hall in Portsea but by the time of the census in 1871 the couple were living in Salisbury with their first four children - George Augustus (b. 1865), Frances (b. 1867), Florence (b. 1870) and Margaret (b. 1871)
The family were back in Portsmouth by 1881 living at 20 Claremont Terrace, Fratton. With them were a further four children, Agnes (b. 1873), Sydney (b. 1876), Archibald (b. 1877) and Ethel (b. 1881). George Henry was described as a carpenter and his son George Augustus as a railway clerk. By the 1891 census the family had moved to 28 Orchard Road, Southsea, one more child, Henry had been born in 1885 and George jnr. had left the railway to become a builder's clerk. George Augustus also left the household that year when he married Elizabeth Jane, daughter of John and Catherine Adams of 2 All Saints Road.
George and Elizabeth were recorded at 212 Kingston Road for the 1901 census. With them was their son Lawrence Adams Mitchell who had been born in 1896. George was still a builder's clerk but was also branching out as a stationers and fancy goods dealer whilst Elizabeth was working as a teacher. Both markedly improved their position over the next ten years with George becoming a Chief Clerk at the builders whilst Elizabeth had been promoted to Head Teacher; both were still in their mid forties and probably felt they merited a comparable improvement in their location. By 1911 they had moved to Havant, then later to Warblington.
Lawrence Adams Mitchell was 18 years of age at the outbreak of the Great War. It's not known when he enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery but it may have been before August 1914 as by 1918 he held the rank of Captain (and had been awarded the Military Cross). He died on 22nd October 1918 and was buried at Belle vue either the following day or in 1922 when some graves were moved from Briastre Communal Cemetery.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) list Captain Lawrence Adams Mitchell MC, Royal Field Artillery, died 22/10/1918. Buried at the Belle Vue British Cemetery, Briastre (Grave Ref: A.26.). Son of George and Elizabeth Mitchell, of The Halt, Warblington, Havant, Hants.
Lawrence Mitchell is commemorated on the Buckland United Reformed Church WW1 Memorial and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X.
Tim Backhouse
November 2014