King Edward’s School and the Great War

Memorial Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918


Mitton, Thomas Ewart

Second Lieutenant ▪ 1st Echelon, General HQ Signals Company

Thomas Ewart Mitton, born on 26th April 1897 and known as ‘Ewart’, was admitted to King Edward’s School in January 1911 as a Foundation Scholar, having previously attended Wintersloe Preparatory School in Moseley. He lived with his parents, Mabel (née Tolkien, aunt of JRR Tolkien), and Thomas, also an Old Edwardian and founder of Hunt and Mitton Brassfounders, and his three siblings at ‘Abbotsford’, Wake Green Road, Moseley. Ewart’s brother Eric, also an Old Edwardian, served as a Captain, and briefly as an Acting Major, with the Royal Engineers, and was mentioned in dispatches three times during the course of the war. The Mittons were a prosperous and well-known Birmingham family, who, according to the Birmingham News in August 1932, “played a prominent part in the public and religious life of the district for the past fifty or sixty years.”

At School, Ewart was a talented all-rounder. He played for the 1st XV, and was described as “a good hooker, inclined to lose his head when gets the ball”. He was also a member of the Debating Society and in January 1916 whilst debating the motion, “That there is no Romance in modern life,” he remarked that “Germany’s great Romance was the Baghdad railway.” In addition, he was musically talented, moving the audience with “his splendid recitation of Gunga Din” at the School Concert in December 1915. Academically he excelled, studying in the First Class under the tutelage of the Headmaster himself, and winning the Governors’ Prize for English Verse at Speech Day in July 1915. Like his cousin JRR Tolkien, Ewart was a poet, and in March 1915 whilst still at school, he wrote The Dardanelles, a poem about the action at Gallipoli in which several Old Edwardians were killed.

In February 1916, immediately after leaving school, Ewart gained a commission in the Royal Engineers as a Second Lieutenant, serving as a Signals Officer, just like his cousin, JRR Tolkien. He went to France in March 1917 with the 1st Echelon, General Headquarters Signals Company. On 24th December 1917, he was accidentally killed on the railway near Ypres. He is buried in Duhallow Advanced Dressing Station Cemetery, Flanders, and is commemorated on both St Agnes’ Church and St Mary’s Church War Memorials.