I am trying to locate any records on my great uncle who was my grandmother's youngest brother.  My grandmother, Gardenia Ruby Mitchell Walters O'Donnell said he put his age up to enlist in WW1 and was killed in France in 1916.  I don't what his real name was.  She referred to him as Abby and I think he was born in 1900.  Abraham has been suggested, although my uncle was called Richard Albert O'Donnell and I did wonder if his name could have been Albert and my uncle was named after him.  My father Brian Edward Hall was named after his father Edward, so I thought that perhaps that could have been the case.

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Comment by Tonia (from NAA) on March 7, 2012 at 22:13

Hi Janice

I did a quick database search and found 19 men with the name Albert Mitchell who served in WWI.  Many more Mitchell's have Albert as a second name. There were 2 men with the name Abraham Mitchell. 

To search for WWI service records:

- go to naa.gov.au and click on the yellow 'Search the collection' button on the right hand side of the page

- click on 'Search as a guest'

- click on the green 'NameSearch' tab along the top portion of the screen

- enter the family name and select the World War I category of records using the drop down box (you will get a large search result).

- click on the 'Refine this search result' button

- enter the given name 'Albert' and click 'Search' - you should get 39 results, where Albert and Mitchell appear in the items title.

- click on 'Display' to see a listing of the items in our collection.

Repeat the steps above to search for Abraham Mitchell  (replacing Albert' with 'Abraham').

The text in the item listing just refers to the database registration, similar to the information you see on a library catalogue about books. Next to the text you will see an icon that looks like a document.  Click on this to see a digital copy of the actual service record.  

You can look through the two lists to see if you can identify which is your great uncle.  Information such as next of kin and place of birth can be really useful for determining whether the serviceman could be your great uncle. You should then look in the digitised item, which will provide you with information about the person's service history, including where they served and if they were killed in action.

Best of luck in your search



NAA staff

Comment by Debra on March 8, 2012 at 15:30

Hi Janice,

Do you know where your grandmother was born and who her parents were?



Comment by Janice Derwin on March 8, 2012 at 16:36

Hi Debra

Yes, my grandmother was Gardenia Ruby Mary Walters Mitchell, mother Elizabeth Young Daniel Mitchell, father George Mitchell.  She was born Kangaroo Ground Millfield, 20 February 1895.  Abby was the youngest and my grandmother said he put his age up to go to WW1 and was killed in France in 1917.  At the stage in my life while my grandmother was still living, I was rearing a family and didn't have time to think of family research and when I became really interested in family history, my grandmother and my father were both gone, as well as my uncles, so nobody to get information from.  My great grandmother, Elizabeth Young Daniel Mitchell left George Mitchell, who had a secretive second family at the same time, and lived with Frank Cronan for twenty odd years until her death.  I don't know if Abby was born to George Mitchell or Frank Cronan.

Comment by Janice Derwin on March 8, 2012 at 20:02

Hi Tonia

I did try both Albert (39) and Abraham (only 2) but no luck with either.  And I did put in Next of Kin Elizabeth Young Mitchell, but no help there either.  So, dead end?

Comment by Debra on March 8, 2012 at 22:05

Hi Janice,

I have found him - his real name was Walter.  I saw that Gardenia's birth was registered as Gardina with no father named, so Elizabeth was possibly already living apart from George by then.  Walter's birth was also registered with no father named in 1900 at West Maitland.  He enlisted in 1915 so was only 15 years old - he said he was 18 years and 1 month and his mother gave permission for him to enlist.  I wonder if his birth was registered late?  There is a comment about how young he looks on page 18.

Search for MITCHELL Walter : Service Number - 589

You will need some tissues :(


Comment by Debra on March 8, 2012 at 22:21

Hi Janice,

His entry on the AIF Project's website has details of the Menin Gate Memorial.


The AWM's Roll of Honour


Photographs of his inscription at Menin Gate



Comment by Janice Derwin on March 8, 2012 at 23:53

Oh Wow, my goodness, Debra.  I have been trying to find out something about him for so long.  I did send away for army records about twenty years ago but I was looking to Abraham Mitchell and when records came back which were obviously not mine, it was very disappointing and I gave up.  I have been poking around on-line for family records, with limited success.  Thank you for so very much for your work on this.  It is so very good to be able to know of him.  I wonder where "Walter" came from.  It's nothing like Abby.  Now somebody can really remember him and the sacrifice he made as a mere sixteen year old.  I can remember my grandmother telling me that his mother had a bad dream one night and woke up crying out his name and a short time after she heard he had been killed in France.  But that's all my grandmother told me or knew about it - I guess France in those days was a million miles away.  What is the page 18 you mention?  How can I get all this information printed and the yellow details page printed?  What a pity there is no photograph of him.  Would there be a company army photograph kept anywhere?  Wait, there must be a photograph somewhere if someone is commenting on how young he looks on page 18.  Please tell me more if you have anything.  I am a novice at this but I am so very grateful to you.

Comment by Debra on March 9, 2012 at 0:14

Hi Janice,

Walter's service record is digitised - just go to http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/using/search/  then click on "search as a guest".  When the search box comes up, type in Walter Mitchell 589 and click on "search".  His record will come up and you will see a link on the right hand side of the page that says "view digital copy".  Just click on that and the service record will open.  You can enlarge the page and turn the pages using the arrows at the top.



Comment by Debra on March 9, 2012 at 0:57

Sorry, I should have said, it is not until page 7 that you see Elizabeth's name changed from Mitchell to Cronan, and there is some discussion about her name in letters later in the document.


Comment by Janice Derwin on March 9, 2012 at 22:10

Hello Debra

Thank you so very much again for all this.  I would never, ever have found it without your help.  I have read it all through a couple of times.  And, yes, tissues were needed. A mere boy, who would never have known what he was going into, probably thinking adventure.  And how his mother suffered.  But no photographs.  What about the company?  Wouldn't there have been a photo of that, where we can see a photo of "Abby"?  I know I have one of my father's company in WW2.


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