Private Alexander Mitchell


Alexander Mitchell was born on 16 January 1891 at Blaris, Lisburn, County Down, the first of three children of watchmaker Joseph Mitchell and his wife Catherine (née McMaster). He grew up in nearby Dunmurry, but by the time of the 1911 Census was living as a boarder at 27 Longwood Avenue, Dublin, and working as a tenter in a linen weaving mill.

Mitchell enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 11 December 1915 (No.2034). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp until November 1916, when he and around 100 other North Irish Horsemen volunteered to transfer to the Royal Irish Rifles. The formal transfer took place on 7 December (Mitchell was issued regimental number 40902), and on that day the men embarked for France. There they were posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, joining it on the Somme front on 12 December.

In May 1917 Mitchell fell ill with trench fever. After ten days at the 2nd General Hospital he was sent to a convalescent camp, before returning to his regiment.

Mitchell sustained a head wound in 16 August 1917 at the Battle of Langemarck, part of Third Ypres. The battalion war diary for the day listed 27 other ranks killed, 7 wounded and missing, 170 wounded, and 63 missing.

Evacuated to the UK for treatment, it was not until 10 June 1918 that Mitchell was able to resume duty, posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. On 27 July 1918 he was transferred to the Labour Corps (No.642819) and posted to No.664 Home Service Labour Company.

On 9 March 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. He was granted a pension due to 'DAH' – disordered action of the heart – which was attributed to his military service, his level of disability assessed at 20 per cent in August 1920.

On 2 January 1919 Mitchell married Annie Mulligan at the Church of Ireland Parish Church, Drumbeg, County Down.