Private William Ralph Mitchell
William Ralph Mitchell was born in Dacre, Ontario, August 19, 1897, the fifth of six children. While he was in his teens his family moved to Haileybury and after finishing school William found work as a bank clerk. He also joined the active militia unit of Haileybury, the 97th Regiment.
When the war began William was anxious to enlist, but kept a promise to his mother and didn't join until he turned eighteen. On September 29th,1915 he enlisted in Haileybury, becoming a member of the Algonquin Regiment, 159th Battalion, Signal Section.
After training at the Armoury in Haileybury, William left for more training in England in October, 1916. By May 1917 he was in France part of the signal section of the 24th Canadian Infantry Battalion. During the battle to capture Hill 70 in August 1917 William was hit by gunfire: on August 19th, 1917,his 20th birthday, he was informed that he had lost his left eye. He lived the rest of his life with a steel plate in the back of his head and shrapnel in his brain. After being fitted with an artificial eye William left for home in April, 1918. He was honourably discharged on June 25th, 1918 and spent the rest of his working life as a express messenger for CNR.
He later married, and had six children, and fourteen grandchildren. He proudly displayed his veternan's badge and his Discharge Certificate in his home.
This account was contributed by William Mitchell's daughter, Betty (Mitchell) Brigham.
A Soldier's Diary