The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Keith Bedford
- Regimental #:
- ‘D’ Company, 15 Platoon
- Place of Birth:
- Dongara, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- William Bedford Mitchell
- Mothers's Name:
- Frances 'Fanny' Priscilla Mitchell (nee Pearse)
- Church of England
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Selarang Camp Changi
- ‘A’ Force Burma; Green Force, No. 3 Battalion
- Camps Thailand:
- Kanchanaburi, Bangkok (medical orderly), Nacompaton, Linson Wood Camp
- Camps Burma:
- Victoria Point, Thetkaw 14km, Meiloe 75 km, Aungganaung 105 km, Khonkan 55km (1.7.1943 as medical orderly)
- Return Details 1945:
- Thailand-Singapore by aircraft; Singapore-Fremantle, HMT Moreton Bay
Mitchell enlisted AIF 9 Apr 1941 and later joined ‘D’ Company No. 15 Platoon under Commanding Officer Lt. Meiklejohn. Please read further
He was wounded in action at 0400 hours on 9/2/1942. Admitted to 2/12th Australian General Hospital on 10/2/1942 with a gunshot wound to his left hand. Transferred to No. 2 Convalescent Depot on 12/2/1942 before being discharged to unit on 16/2/1942.
Following Allied capitulation to Japan he was at Selarang Camp Singapore. It was from here the POWs would embark on work parties around the island for the Japanese.
He was selected to work on the Burma end of Thai-Burma
Railway with ‘A’ Force Burma, Green Force No. 3 Battalion. This Force included a large contingent of 2/4th men as did ‘D’ Force Thailand, S Battalion. Keith was many with ‘D’ Company mates and a number of men from Northampton.
Keith sailed to Victoria Point, then travelled to the northern part of the railway, Thetkaw 14km, Meiloe 75km (hospitalised 30 March) and moved to Aungganung 105km.
It was from here on 1 July 1943 that Keith moved to Khonkan 55km Camp as a medical orderly. Khonkan had been designated by the Japanese as a ‘Hospital’ Camp – without any medical facilities and supplies. There were very large numbers of ‘A’ Force sick sent here. Albert Coates was appointed by Japanese to run this camp and by end of December the bulk of the sick and Coates departed.
By the end of December 1943 and the railway had been completed, the Japanese moved all the POWs working in Burma south to one of four large camps in Thailand. Mitchell was then moved to Kanchanaburi hospital camp to work as an orderly (we know Jack Schurman was also here).
As luck would have it, he was fortunate not to be selected to work in Japan with the ‘Rakuyo Maru’ Party which included a large number of 2/4th men. (‘Rakuyo’ Maru was sunk in South China Sea in September 1944 and most on board perished).
Mitchell instead was selected Linson Wood Party to chop wood for Japanese locomotives – others in this party included Bill McEwen, Ted Cornell and Bill Carlyon from Northampton.
Keith was sent to Nacompaton Camp, which was also a hospital Camp. At the end of the war he was taken to Bangkok to fly back to Singapore from where he sailed home on HMT ‘Moreton Bay’.
Keith Bedford Mitchell was only son of William Bedford Mitchell (Jnr) and Francis ‘Fanny’ Priscilla Pearse who married 1898 Busselton. Keith was born in 1903 Dongara and had five sisters.
‘Fanny’ Pearse was born Dongara 1874 to Francis Pearse and Emma Snook who married Fremantle 1870. Fanny’s father Francis, a Dongara merchant and landowner built the Royal Steam Roller Flour Mill in Dongara in 1894 – then the most up-to-date mill in WA. The Mill closed in 1935 and is now owned by National Trust of Australia (WA).
The above information has been taken from Monuments Australia.
Below: Mrs Fanny Mitchell – mother of Keith.
Keith’s father William Bedford Mitchell (Jnr) born 1869 Bunbury was third of thirteen children born to William Bedford Mitchell (Snr) and Caroline Morgan who married 1865 Busselton. William (Jnr) died in 1928. His older brother and uncle to Keith was Sir James Mitchell.
Sir James Mitchell GCMG (27 April 1866 – 26 July 1951) was 13th Premier of Western Australia, serving on two occasions, the Lieutenant-Governor of Western Australia for 15 years and 22nd Governor of WA.
Keith attended Hale School.
He married about 1941 to widow Francis Isla Seed (nee Butcher)
He died 20 March 1963 at Cottesloe aged 60 years. He was buried Karrakatta Cemetery.
Below: farewell to Keith Mitchell 1954
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Kanchanaburi, 50k - Thailand
- Linson Wood Camp, 202k - Thailand
- Nacompaton, Nakom Pathom Hospital - Thailand
- Aungganaung,105Kilo - Burma
- Khonkan, 55Kilo Hospital 360k - Burma
- Meilo, 75 Kilo, 340k - Burma
- Bangkok - Thailand
- Victoria Point, Kawthoung - Burma. \'A\' Force, Green Force No. 3 Btn
- Thetkaw 14 Kilo - Burma