Clement Barber Mitchell

Corporal 14000, 8th Bn, Norfolk Regiment
Died 11th August 1917, aged 20
Remembered at Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
& on both Blakeney War Memorials

Clement’s birth was registered in the June Quarter, 1897 for Walsingham District while Blakeney School Admissions Register gives his date of birth as 4th April 1897. He was baptised 13th June, 1897 in Blakeney Parish Church, the son of single mum Phoebe Mitchell. Phoebe was born in Blakeney 1876, the daughter of Robert and Martha Mitchell formerly Massingham. The 1901 Census records that Clement was living with his grandparents whilst his mother was working as a servant in London. By the time of the 1911 Census, Clement aged 13, was boarding in the home of Mary Jane Nurse in the High Street and his employment was given as an Errand Boy to a Cycle Agent.

There are no surviving records for Clement only that he enlisted at Norwich (no date) and was awarded medals for his service on the fields of France and Flanders. However the Norfolk News, 5th September 1914 reported that 11 Blakeney men signed up to Lord Kitchener’s new army on Blakeney Quay on Saturday and left the village the following Monday morning. Meanwhile they had been joined by even more recruits making 18 at least. Then a week later the Norwich Mercury 12th September lists all 18 men with C. Mitchell being one of them.

The battalion experienced many difficulties in the early days, lack of equipment, clothing, boots as well as tents and even eating utensils. Everything was shared amongst the men who were all fired with the same enthusiasm for the adventure that lay ahead. The first winter was spent at Colchester training and then on 25th July 1915 they embarked at Folkestone to join the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front. Together with the 10th Essex, 6th Royal Berkshire and 8th Suffolk Regiments, the 8th Norfolks made up the 53rd brigade.

Two years later, in July, 1917, they moved to Ypres ready for the 31st that was to be the start of the 3rd Battle of Ypres. During the first nine days of August they were at the rear of the action then, on the morning of the 10th, came the order to advance to Chateau Segard to take part in an attack at 7pm from trenches in front of Inverness Copse. Together with the 6th Berkshires they were to take over the front line of the 54th brigade. A good deal of confusion ensued that day and evening and part of the line was still held by the 11th Fusiliers and the 2nd Bedfords of the 54th brigade.

There was much confusion and the Norfolks were not in place until well into the night. They were attacked early the next morning, 4.30 am, suffering many casualties, with Clement numbered amongst them. The battalion was so depleted that in less than six months, the 8th Norfolks paraded for the last time. They were disbanded on January 29th 1918.