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John Mitchell

John Mitchell was born in Bradwardine, Manitoba and grew up in Marsden, Saskatchewan. He enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan in 1915 but by the new year had enlisted in the 96 Battalion CEF. The following is an excerpt from Private John Mitchell: Memories of World War I : β€œAt the age of 19 he enlisted on February 1, 1916, in the 96th Highland Battalion of the C.E.F. A long training period followed, during which he qualified as a Signaller. He was given leave to go home for seeding in the spring, returning to army life in May. After his period of training at Camp Hughes, Manitoba, he had a final five-day leave at home before embarking on the Laconia for overseas on October 16, 19l6. His army life is documented in a little pocket diary with brief daily entries, which is quite remarkable, considering the conditions under which it was written. His laconic, personal comments give a surprisingly complete picture of the progress of the war. Many references are made to John Gordon, his friend from Marsden, also in the army, whom he was able to see occasionally. The entire winter of 1916 was spent in training in England, impatiently awaiting the call to France. At last in June, over a year from leaving Camp Hughes, came the draft to France and active duty. As the war raged on, keeping the diary became more difficult, and he discontinued it on September 5, 1917. On November 5 at Passchendaele he was wounded in the right leg, and sent to England. With his leg almost useless, he was forced to remain for several months in British hospitals. In April he came back to Canada on the Aquitania, arriving at Halifax on May 1st, then by train to Regina, Saskatoon, Lashburn, and home.” He returned to the University of Saskatchewan and in 1924 graduated with a B.S.A. While working as an Instructor in Soil Science, he completed a M. Sc. Degree (1929) and a PhD (1931) from the University of Wisconsin. He was appointed Professor of Soil Science and soon after became Department Head. He died in 1955 at the age of 58. Two years later, the Soils and Dairy Science Building was renamed the John Mitchell Building. Material for this section was selected from the University at War Collection MG 328 and include a biography of Private John Mitchell who served as a Signaller in the First World War, a transcription of his daily diary entries made during his period of service and a copy of his attestation papers.

This material comes from the Photograph Collection, the University at War collection , and the yearbook.