Dead Soldier Widely Known

by Laurel | February 23rd, 2012

23 February 1919

Edwin Mitchell

Edwin J. Mitchell

News of Killing of Private Edwin J. Mitchell by Hand Grenade Received this Week

The news of the past week that Private Edwin J. Mitchell of Co. I 308th infantry, was killed by a hand grenade on the German side of the Vesle River late in August, came as a shock to his many local friends, despite the fact that nothing definite had been learned of him for months and that the American Red Cross had stated that his name was not included in the names of the American prisoners in Germany. It is probably that Mitchell was better known among the young men in Holyoke than any other soldier going over seas and his letters from over there were always read with interest.

Especially in athletic circles was he known and there was little doing in baseball circles in ward 4 in which he was not intimately concerned. He was born in Holyoke and attended the local schools, his great interest being in St. Jerome high school baseball team, which he coached for several years and in whose success he greatly rejoiced. He organized the Paragon and Criterion clubs, both of which proved successes, and for several years was president of the City Baseball League. He was a playground director and managed the champion playground baseball team.

He was always willing to help out and any hard luck story did not have to be told but once before assistance was offered. Five years before his enlistment, he took up newspaper work and when he entered the army service he was correspondent for The Springfield Daily News and assistant in the local Republican office. He enjoyed the newspaper game and made good from the start, could always be depended upon and accomplished a large amount of work without apparent effort. While he will be missed from the many activities in which he was engaged it is as a loyal and devoted friend that his passing will mean the most and will be the deepest felt, for no more local friend ever existed or one who could be more absolutely depended upon.

Edwin J. Mitchell

Edwin J. Mitchell

That he made a good soldier was no surprise to those who knew him, for he never would be false to a trust. Opposed to war, yet he realized the necessity of the call and in one of the later letters received form him, he evidently feared that his distaste of war might lead his friends to believe that he would hang back and he asked that there be no fear but that he would do his duty and fight his best when the call came. “Don’t think that I will be a slacker or will not do my whole duty when the fighting starts,” he wrote.

He left Holyoke February 26, 1918 for Camp Devens and at midnight, march 15 was aroused from bed to entrain for Camp Upton and on the 16th passed through Holyoke on the way to camp, the last chance he had to see his home city. Although he hoped for a furlough at Camp Upton, he was unable to secure one as the 77th division, to which the 308th regiment was attached were getting under way to go overseas and early in April he sailed for France, arriving there on April 21. From that time until late in June he was under intensive training with his regiment and went into the reserve trenches early in July and from them into the front line trenches. He wrote a number of interesting letters regarding what he saw while in active service. Late in July his letters suddenly stopped and finally word came that he was missing in action on August 22, nothing further being learned until the past week when a letter from the chaplain came to his brother at Washington, stating that he had been killed, evidently while on a raid on the German trenches, and that his grave was located on the further side of the Vesle River.

From The Springfield Republican.

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