I would like to find information re; Pte Farmer. W 37th Bn.A.I.F. (deceased). 1917. Can anyone help - please?

Archive Reords are not very clear at this time. Any clues would be gratefully received. Thank you. JS

Views: 256

Comment by Debra on September 4, 2012 at 10:38

Hi Joyce,

Is this the person you are interested in?


Are you trying to find who his parents were?


Comment by Tonia (from NAA) on September 7, 2012 at 14:29

Hi Joyce

The National Archives of Australia holds the service records for men and women who served in WWI and WWII, and all of the WWI records have been digitised. To search for Pte Farmer's service record:

1) Go to http://naa.gov.au/collection/using/search/index.aspx 

2) Click on the 'Begin your Search' button

3) Click on the green NameSearch tab along the top part of the screen.

3) Enter the surname (Farmer), select 'Army - World War I' from the category of records drop-down menu and click search.  You will retrieve a large number of records, but you should be able to narrow down which one is the one you are looking for by looking at information in the title field, such as next of kin (NOK), place of enlistment (POE), place of birth (POB) and date of birth.

4) If you know his first name, you can refine the search by clicking on the 'Refine search' button and entering his first name. 

4) Once you have identified the individual you are looking for, or you want to look at an record in more detail to decide whether it is the correct one, click on the item in the list and you should see the database details for the item.

5) Click on the 'View digital copy' link on the top right hand side to look at a digital copy of the actual service record.

Hope this helps


(NAA staff)

Comment by Craig Tibbitts (from AWM) on September 20, 2012 at 14:59

Hi Joyce,

I'm sure the soldier identified by Debra above is the right one.  He's the only W. Farmer of the 37th Battalion, AIF, who died in 1917.  I can tell you that William Farmer died during the attack on Passchendaele, Belgium on 12 October 1917.  In his service records (see link provided by Debra above), you'll see a few references to him being buried '250 yards north of Hamburg'.  'Hamburg' was a nickname location marked on 1917 maps of the Ypres-Passchendaele battlefield.  In fact the burial spot referred to would be about 500 metres north of the present day Tyne Cot war cemetery.  Private Farmer is commemorated on the memorial there.


We also have some other records relating to him at the Australian War Memorial which you can view online.

His Roll of Honour record (make sure you also click on the PDF named 'View Circular').

His Red Cross Wounded and Missing record.  This contains info about his death from eye witnesses.



Craig Tibbitts

Research Centre

Australian War Memorial

Comment by Debra on September 26, 2012 at 1:18

Hi Joyce,

Looking at the info on William's records, Flora McKinnon says that she was his stepmother "for several years", she didn't know his date of birth, and she thought that he had no blood relatives still living.  From this, I think that she certainly didn't care for him from babyhood and he only came into the family at around 16.  It is possible that he had been a ward of the state and had been "apprenticed" to Flora's family when he turned 16.

If his birth was registered, and that was his correct name, then the only one that I can see is a William George Farmer whose birth was registered in 1899 at Carlton.  His mother was Jessie Farmer with no father named so that could lead to him being taken into care at any stage of his life if she was unable to look after him.

Jessie could be the same one who is mentioned in a news article in 1895 (noting that William says in his service record that he was born in Brunswick):

"The Melborne Argus", 31 October 1895, page 6




At the Brunswick Police Court yesterday, a girl named Jessie Farmer was charged with being an idle and disorderly person. Her father, George Farmer, stated that she was 18 years of age, and was utterly beyond his control. He had treated her with every kindness, and her stepmother was most anxious that the girl should remain at home.   She refused to stay with them. Mrs Farmer gave similar evidence.  

Mr. Crook, J.P. - There is something behind all this. The girl, who appears to be very respectable, seems to be more anxious to shield her father, than her father is to shield her.  

Inspector Gray stated that Miss Phillips, of the South Yarra home, was willing to take the girl with her, and as the defendant was only too glad to get away from her parents' home, the Bench allowed her to go with Miss     Phillips at the same time ordering the father to pay 5s. per week towards her support.

"The Coburg Leader", 2 November 1895, page 1




Jessie Farmer was similarly charged by her father, Geo. F. Farmer, a store keeper in Flinders Lane. The prisoner was 18 years of age, she had left her home on three separate occasions, the last time was on the 3rd of July. Inspector Grey said that one of the ladies from the South Yarra Home was in attendance and would take the girl. The prisoner made no charge against her father or her stepmother, but said she would go to the Home. Her father agreed to pay 5s a week for her keep. She was then discharged and left the court with the lady.

The Home referred to was actually the fabulously named "South Yarra Home for Fallen and Friendless Women"

Jessie Farmer was the daughter of George Francis Farmer and Josephine (aka Joanna) Milldove or Millduff.  I can't see a death for her mother so perhaps she just disappeared into the sunset, and George didn't marry the stepmother as far as I can see.

Here is an online link that you can use to contact the government agency which holds the records for state wards. http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/vic/biogs/E000718b.htm

The records are closed for 99 years, but if you explain the situation they may check for you. The records are usually very detailed and if he was a ward then Flora McKinnon should be named there, as well as his mother and the circumstances she was in.


Comment by Joyce Stone on September 26, 2012 at 7:07

Hello Debra - You have been very kind looking up 'my' Wm. Farmer.  I wonder if  'my' Wm. Farmer was born before 1899.  If he was born in 1899 he would have been killed when he was only 17 years old.  Now we thought that he would have to be at least 18 years old before he could enlist??  I know some gentlemen/ youths were not entirely truthful about their age and saw the military as an 'adventure', especially if he did not have any close/blood family.  Also the photographs I have of him, we think he is more mature than 17.


We thought the newspaper reports interesting, and for the father to agree 5s. a week for his care, was a very generous offer and his occupation must have been most lucrative.


Thank you for your help.  Regards Joyce


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