Sunday, 23 November 2014

Able Seaman Reuben Mitchell DSM

In Ballarat's Avenue of Honour there has been a tree planted for R.J.E. Mitchell.  The tree's number is 1446 and it was planted by R. Herbert.  I thought rather than see this person as just a name on a plaque in the Avenue of Honour, it might worthwhile to find out about this person and his war experiences.   So over the coming months  new posts about Reuben will be posted on the blog as we follow him through the war.  His name was chosen at random so there is no special reason why he was chosen to blog about, just that he had a tree in the avenue and he had a connection to Ballarat.

For this first post it might be a good idea to introduce Reuben so as to get an idea of his family and his life prior to the war. Reuben was born on 28 July 1894 in Ballarat the youngest child of Thomas and Alice (nee Holman).  Reuben had 4 siblings, Dorothy, Richard, who died when he was 7 months old, Richard James and Thomas.  They lived with their parents at 206 Creswick Rd, Ballarat.

Reuben stood at 5'7" tall, he had brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion.  In 1910 he decided to join the Royal Navy straight from school. He enlisted on 19 March 1910 and was based on the Australia Station.  He served on several ships  before joining HMS Challenger for her voyage back to England.  While based at Portsmouth he volunteered for submarine service and on completion of his training at HMS Dolphin based at Fort Blockhouse and HMS Vernon which included training in HM submarines A6, A13 and E4 he joined HMAS AE2 for he voyage back to Australia as an Able Seaman.

At the outbreak of the war in 1914 Reuben was still serving on HMAS AE2 and saw action off German New Guinea and in the Pacific in the closing months of 1914.

Hopefully this snapshot has provided an overview of Reuben prior to the war and the family he left behind in Ballarat when he enlisted in the navy.


  1. Reuben was my g-grand uncle. He was taken as a POW in Turkey in January 1918 whilst he was serving with the British Navy on the E14 which was sunk. Trish

    1. Many thanks for your comment Trish. We plan of posting more posts about him in coming months so please keep reading our blog. Any further information you can supply about him would be greatly appreciated.