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MITCHELL, Geoffrey Arthur Nevett (1894-1973)

Geoffrey Mitchell (Cadets 1910).

Geoffrey Mitchell (Cadets 1910).

MITCHELL, Geoffrey Arthur Nevett (1894-1973)

Born on 6 June, 1894 at Ballarat to parents Arthur Nevett Mitchell (c1865-1923) and Constance Sinclair nee Seal (1865-1904), Geoff Nevett was enrolled as a boarder at the College from 1907 to 1914. He was enrolled by his mother, Mrs Seal (sic) of ‘Eyrecourt’, Mercer Rd, Malvern. An all-round sportsman, he was a member of the 1908 Athletics Team, the 1st Football XVIII of 1911 and 1912, the 1st Cricket XI of 1912 and 1914 and a member of the 1st Rowing Crew for four years from 1911 to 1914. In 1914, he was Stroke of the crew and Captain of Boats. From 1912 to 1914 he was a School Prefect.

He left School to enlist in the AIF registering on 24 August 1914 to serve with the 4th Australian Light Horse (Regimental Headquarters). At the time, his father, A N Mitchell of the Ozone Hotel, Queenscliff, was listed as next of kin on the embarkation roll.

Angus R Urquhart (1896-1966), an Old Collegian, wrote to the Headmaster on 25 May 1916 from St John's Wood, London, of Geoffrey Mitchell's wounding and evacuation from Gallipoli: ‘I saw Geoff Mitchell quite a lot before he left for the front; he had rather a narrow escape at Gallipoli - a shrapnel shell burst quite close to him, one bullet gave him a very nasty wound in the leg, while another just caught him under the chin, but luckily enough, did not break any bones.’

He was discharged from the AIF in Egypt on 18 April 1915, and went on to France where he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) or, the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). There is some confusion on this transfer. Pegasus of May 1915 reported: ‘G Mitchell has received a Commission as Lieutenant, and when last heard of was leaving Egypt to proceed to Aldershot for further training.’ Pegasus of May 1917 reported on his work: ‘I am afraid you will think I have forgotten the Old School, since I have not written for so long. A little over a month ago I was attached to 1st Anzac Corps for duty, and since then have met several Old Boys. I had tea with Jim Kininmonth (1891-1954) a few days ago and heard lots of news from him. I also got a copy of Pegasus. Was very interested in the plans for the new buildings, and am looking forward to seeing the Old School again ... I was promoted to Captain in the RFC last September, and am now in charge of the two balloons working with this corps.'

1st Rowing Crew, 1914 with Geoff Mitchell as stroke.

1st Rowing Crew, 1914 with Geoff Mitchell as stroke.

He was awarded the Air Force Cross, and Mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig's Despatches in December 1917. The Pegasus of December 1919 reported his decoration by the King: ‘We are pleased to report that Geoff Mitchell was presented by the King, in August, with an Air Force Cross, which was awarded to him seven months ago. When last heard from, Geoff was stationed at Southampton, he then expected to be sent to a Repatriation Camp to wait a passage to Australia. Since then, he has visited the North of Scotland, and had an excellent time shooting and salmon fishing.’ The Edinburgh Gazette of 5 June, 1919 listed the promotion of Geoffrey Arthur Nevett Mitchell (Royal Fusiliers) to Major.

From early in 1919 until the end of 1931 he was employed as a rubber planter in Malaya. For the last four years he was managing a 5000-acre plantation in Kelantan, where he was reputed to have a good understanding of the Malayan country. On 15 May 1923 he married Miss Elsa (or Gwendoline?) Mary Field Morris, the daughter of Ernest and Mabel Elizabeth Field Morris, and at the time of his enlistment in World War II they had one child, Gilian Nevett Mitchell (1929-2012), born on 15 January 1929.

During World War II, he served as a Flight Lieutenant in the RAAF in the role of Adjutant at 1 Recruit Centre, Melbourne from August 1941 to September 1945. He was discharged from the RAAF on 15 October 1945. He died at Lancefield on 23 July 1973.

His younger brother, Ronald Sutherland Murray Mitchell (1896-1971) was also educated at the College from 1907 to 1915.

Sources: Pegasus December 1914 p8 Valete; Excerpts from James Affleck, Geelong Collegians’ at the Great War p262-263; Excerpts from James Affleck, Geelong Collegians at the Second World War p384.
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