First World War Poetry Digital Archive

Trench diary of George Mitchell

George Oswald Mitchell (G.O.M.) was one of the relatively small number of British soldiers who served right through the First World War from 5th August 1914, when his Bradford Territorial Battalion was mobilised, up to and beyond the Armistice on 11th November 1918. His view of the war was initially that of a private in the infantry, seeing front line action in the spring and summer of 1915 with the 1/6th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment in and around
Neuve Chapelle as well as the Ypres salient. He was then, as a corporal, one of the first members of the Royal Engineers Special (gas) Companies, launching the massive gas attack on the first day of the Battle of Loos on 25th September 1915. Promoted to sergeant, G.O.M. took part in many other gas attacks during the remaining three years of the war. He was finally commissioned as a second-lieutenant before being demobilised in 1919. He kept a trench diary from the day he landed in France until 25th September 1915 and subsequently noted the places in which he served and the engagements in which he took part. The diary and notes have been lodged in the Department of Documents at the Imperial War Museum. There is a copy of the diary in the Royal Engineers Library at Chatham.

Selected extracts from the diary have been quoted in Philip Warner, The Battle of Loos (1976, republished 2000): Donald Richter, Chemical Soldiers (1994): Judith Cook, Priestley (1997): and Niall Cherry, Most Unfavourable Ground – The Battle of Loos 1915 (2005). There are more extensive extracts, together with an account of G.O.M.'s background and family and descriptions of the engagements in which he fought, in Jeremy Mitchell, Shrapnel and Whizzbangs - A Tommy in the Trenches 1914-18, illus. and maps (2008).

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