Private, 43199, 1st Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment
Killed in Action at Méteren, France, 19 April 1918, aged 33
Buried in Méteren Military Cemetery, France
Grave Reference: 1 E 141

Albert Mitchell
(Click to enlarge)

Private Albert Mitchell was born in December 1885 in Forest Row, East Sussex, the son of Arthur and Susan Mitchell. He was christened on 6 December.

In the 1891 census Albert was recorded as living at The Forest, in 1901 he was living at Forest View, near Broadstone, close to the Golf Course. Albert, aged 15, was recorded as being a golf caddie at Royal Ashdown Golf Club and by 1911 he appeared in the census as being at St. Leonard's Golf Club, . In 1901 Albert was recorded as being a golf caddie at Royal Ashdown Golf Club and by 1911 he had progressed to being a golf assistant at St. Leonards Golf Club, where his brother Arthur was the professional. He was a single man living at 10, St.Saviours Road, St. Leonards, with Arthur and his sister-in-law Nellie. In 1912 he was a golf professional at St.Leonards and at the Nevill Golf Club in Tunbridge Wells.

The extended Mitchell family, who had a long-standing association with Ashdown Forest as foresters, labourers and farmers, were an important local golfing family closely connected to the development of courses on the forest at the end of the 19th century. The Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club was formed around 1889 and the adjoining Cantelupe Golf Club for artisan golfers in 1894. There was a friendly rivalry between the two clubs on neighbouring courses. In the first Cantelupe Handicap Tournament that was won by Alfred Padgham, eight of the first nine places were members of local Mitchell families. One of them, Abe Mitchell, was to become a very famous golf professional.

War Memorial of the Cantelupe Golf Club
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Following the outbreak of war Albert enlisted in the West Kent Yeomanry in February 1915. In 1916 he transferred to the Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment 1st Battalion) and was posted to France. He was wounded the same year at the battle of the Somme. After a period of convalescence in England, he returned to France in 1917.

From November 1915 the 1st Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment was part of the 98th Brigade, 33rd Division. In April 1918 they took part in the Battle of Lys and the 1st Battle of Kemmel Ridge. This was initially an Allied defensive victory. On 16 April the Germans advanced to the base of Kemmel Hill. Despite a potential German breakthrough Belgian and British forces held the line until reinforced by four French Divisions. Through the 16th and 17th the Germans attacked from Ballieul towards and entering Meteren village. The 1st Middlesex and others counter-attacked but failed to push the Germans out of the village. On 19 April the 33rd Division was relieved by Australian and French Divisions.

Private Albert Mitchell of the 1st Battalion The Middlesex Regiment was killed in action near Méteren in France on 19 April 1918. He was aged 33. His grave, numbered 1E141, is in Méteren Military Cemetery in northern France.

Méteren Military Cemetery
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Méteren Military Cemetery, near the Belgian border, held 588 identified casualties. Méteren was occupied by German troops from October 1914, but came under Allied control until the big German offensive of April 1918. It was later regained by Allied, French and South African troops. The cemetery originally held Commonwealth, French and German graves but later the German graves were moved to a separate German Cemetery. It now holds some 768 burials of which 180 are unidentified.

Albert Mitchell would have been awarded the Victory Medal (the Inter Aliied Victory Medal), given to those who had also been awarded the 1914-1915 Star and the British War Medal (automatically awarded to those who died on active service). These three medals were commonly called Pip Squeak and Alfred. On 4 March 1921 the Army Record Office at Hounslow received a request to 'dispose of the medals'.

After Albert's death, Belgian probate was proved in London on 24 August 1918. His sister, Mary Ann Chalkley (wife of Walter Chalkley) received the sum of £369 10s. 4d. Later a War Gratuity of £9 0s. 0d was also authorised for Mary on 12 December 1919. As his executor she had also been authorised to receive credits of £6 4s. 11d. on 9 November 1918.

His mother Susan signed the entry in the Book of Remembrance in Holy Trinity Church, Forest Row. At the time she was living at Forest View, Forest Row.

Kevin Tillett