Mitchison, Andrew (Private, b.1889 - d.1916)

Accession Number PR03864
Collection type Private Record
Record type Collection
Measurement 1 wallet: 1 cm.
Object type Diary, Letter, Digital file
Maker Mitchison, Andrew
Place made France
Date made 1915-1916
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain

Copying Provisions Copyright expired. Copying permitted subject to physical condition. Permission for reproduction not required.
Transcript Download PDF document of Mitchison, Andrew (Private, b.1889 - d.1916) (file)

Collection relating to the First World War service of 2450 Private Andrew Mitchison, 19th Australian Infantry Battalion, Egypt and France, 1915-1916. The collection consists of an original handwritten diary, which begins with Mitchison’s embarkation on the SS Themistocles on 5 October 1915, arriving in Suez on 2 November. The diary follows Mitchison’s training in Egypt and subsequent movement to the front line in France, in March 1916. He talks of the long marches through villages, enroute to Flanders. His entry on Easter Sunday, 23 April 1916 reads: ‘Out in the trenches digging, all going well till the huns started to shell us, and they made it that hot we had to thin out and followed us all the way with shells. Saw Lieutenant Olive of Engineers blown to atoms by shell. Had to pick him up in pieces, and a sapper hit in the face from same shell. The sapper was working with me. We are going back to trenches tonight, and this is how we put in our four days spell, 2 in the trenches digging, one to town, on duty half day fatigues at camp, half day to myself and wrote letters then. Not a bad day to put in. Still I’ll never forget our Easter Sunday. The worst experience so far’.

Over the next three months Mitchison participated in offensives around Fort Rompu (west of Armentieres) and Warloy-Baillon. On 23 July 1916, he wrote: ‘Left Warloy last night, marched in steady time. Arrived at the outskirts of the town of Albert. Slept out in a paddock. Very cold no blankets. This is where the big push is. The guns never cease a minute. We have to go through it all tonight. I hear that this is the place where the statue is hanging from the church tower, which the enemy shelled at the beginning of the war. It’s still hanging the same…’ This entry was written on a Sunday, the previous day, Saturday 22 July, Mitchison wrote a letter home to his family; this letter is also included in the collection. Poignantly the letter includes ‘… Mother dear should you receive this letter, you will know that something serious has happened to me…’. It is very clear in Mitchison’s letter that he doubts he will survive the carnage. His adjacent diary entry describes Pozieres as ‘Hells Glen’.

From July through to August Mitchison took part in the major offensives around Pozieres. His last diary entry is on Tuesday 21 August 1916. He was killed in action three weeks later, on 16 September 1916, aged 28. He is buried near Ypres.