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Page history last edited by Lenore Frost 3 years, 6 months ago

Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington, 1914-1918


Mitchell L W        Lieut   Leslie William              38 Inf Bn    25    Clerk    Single    Pres       

Address:    Essendon, Locke St, 15   

Next of Kin:    Mitchell, W, father, 15 Locke St, Essendon   

Enlisted:    14 Jun 1915      

Embarked:   A70 Ballarat 19 Feb 1917



Lieutenant Leslie William Mitchell


by Lenore Frost



When Leslie Mitchell enlisted in Melbourne on 14 June 1915, he was seen to have immediate leadership potential. He was aged 25, engaged in clerical work, and stood 5 feet 10¾ inches, height always being favourable for officers. In his application for a commission, Mitchell stated that his education was Junior public.  As he doesn't appear in the lists for Scotch College, nor in any local government or private school honour boards, it is possible he attended the original Essendon Grammar School in Park St, Moonee Ponds, attending one of the local girls' schools in his infant years.  The old Essendon Grammar School closed in 1905.


He was selected for officer training and initially sent to No 6 Officers' Training School at Broadmeadows, and later to the No 1 Training School, Duntroon.


Exterior of the Mess Hut at the Officers' Training School, Royal Military College (RMC), Duntroon.  AWM P02241.005


On 12 May 1916 he was made a Sergeant at Castlemaine, and Gazetted to 2nd Lieutenant on 1 June 1916.  From there he was sent to the Ascot Vale Isolation Camp, serving as Adjutant from 31 July 1916 to 2 November 1916.  After movements between Ballarat Depot and Seymour Camp, he was finally appointed to the 7th Reinforcements of the 38 Inf Bn at Royal Park and embarked for overseas service on 19 February 1917 on the A70 Ballarat.   Unfortunately the voyage was not without incident, and the ship was torpedoed on Anzac Day 1917 when nearing England.   The troops were safely evacuated, and were landed on the same day at Devonport.


The transport HMAT Ballarat after being torpedoed by a German submarine off the

southern English coast on 25 Apr 1917. In the background a British destroyer is

standing by to take the troops.  AWM Collection C01592.


On 26 November 1917, Mitchell was marched in to the 10th Training Battalion at Durrington. From the 2nd to the 9th of June he attended a Gas School and qualified as a Gas Instructor.  A few days later he was taken on strength of the 38 In Bn and seconded for duty as Group Gas Instructor, No 3 Group.Over the next few months he was reported in various places on the Salisbury Plains.


Part of Lieutenant Mitchell's gas instruction presumably included the care of horses during a gas attack. 

The death of numbers of horses would have a huge impact on the course of events.  AWM K00035.


On 3 February 1918 Mitchell proceeded overseas to France via Southampton.  He was promoted to full Lieutenant in the field on 1 February 1918.  On 12 February Mitchell was taken on strength again at 38 Inf Bn.  It is not clear whether he participated in the usual Battalion operations over the next few months, but again on 16 Jun 1918 he was detached for duty with the 10 Brigade Headquarters.   On 28 June 1918 he was appointed to be the gas officer for 10 Infantry Brigade.  On 28 November 1918, after cessation of hostilities, he resumed Regimental duties.


As an officer who had embarked later in the war, was not married, had not been wounded, Mitchell was not eligible for an early return to Australia, and he spent the next nine months either on leave in London and Paris, or  filling in gaps in various offices  such as the AIF headquarters as an orderly officer to the Commandant; in the Finance Section; as an Education Officer; and finally was required to work his passage home in the AA Pay Corps.


Mitchell returned on the Plessy, arriving in Melbourne 5 Sep 1919.  His appointment as an officer in the AIF was terminated on 24 January 1920.


Mitchell married Wilga Myrtle Pike in 1920. In the 1922 Electoral Roll they appeared at Vivian St, Strahan in Tasmania, Leslie working as an accountant.  By 1930 they had relocated to 36 Bromborough Rd, Roseville in New South Wales, where Leslie worked as a salesman.  In 1934 and 1937 they were listed at 26 Proudfood St, Surrey Hills, Victoria, but thereafter they returned to New South Wales living in various suburbs of Sydney over the next few decades. 


Leslie William Mitchell died in Sydney in 1968, parents William and Kate Mitchell.  (NSW BDM Index)



Ancestry electoral rolls, Victoria, New South Wales

Australian War Memorial - Lieutenant Mitchell's B2455,  and photograph collections

Honour Rolls names collected by the author, recorded on this website.

New South Wales Deaths Index

Ryerson Index to Death Notices and Obituaries in Australian Newspapers

Victorian Births Deaths and Marriages Index



From the Ryerson Index:

MITCHELL    Leslie William    Death notice    06 AUG 1968   Sydney Morning Herald     8 AUG 1968

MITCHELL    Wilga Myrtle    Death notice    02 APR 1993  aged  98  late of Mosman, formerly of Roseville    Sydney Morning Herald    07 APR 1993


War Service Commemorated

Essendon Town Hall L-R

St John's Presbyterian Church

Essendon Gazette Roll of Honour With the Colours

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