New book released April 2017
Falling Stars: The story of Anzacs from Ukraine is a collective biography of the men and women who came from the territory of present-day Ukraine to Australia at the beginning of the twentieth century, fought in the Australian Army in the First World War, and made their post-war lives in this strange and distant country. Through interviews, material history, and archival research, it brings their stories back to life.
Elena Govor, Falling Stars: The story of Anzacs from Ukraine, Canberra, Alcheringa Press, 2017, 239 p., ills
Watch this space for more news about the new book!
During the First World War over a thousand Russian-born servicemen enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). They were the largest national group in the AIF after British, New Zealand and Canadian born servicemen. Besides ethnic Russians, these Anzacs included members of a score of different ethnic groups born within the borders of the Russian Empire. Their story is told in my book:
Elena Govor, Russian Anzacs in Australian History, Sydney, UNSW Press in association with NAA, 2005, 310 p., 44 ills
This site provides additional information about each of the Russian Anzacs, as well as statistical and other data. There is a page for each of these servicemen, containing biographical and service details, as well as links to further materials such as archival documents, newspaper articles, photographs, and quotes from books. In many cases these sources have been digitised and are available to view online.
This site was updated in 2014, and from early 2015 all old versions of the site will redirect to this main page. We apologise for any broken links, and advise to update old links to the new address (http://russiananzacs.net).
New! A map which shows the locations associated with the lives of the Russian Anzacs.
Centenary of the First World War
To mark the Centenary of the First World War, this site will, in a weekly blog post, celebrate the Russian Anzacs who enlisted in the AIF that week. Their pages on this new site will be updated with the latest available sources and materials.
August 18, 2017
- Matti Puhakka, a Finnish seaman from Oulu, came to Australia in 1910 and worked as a horse driver.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Brisbane, he served with the 47th and 49th battalions on the Western Front. In March 1918 he was wounded in the forearm, but returned to the front after his recovery.
- After the war he married in Finland and brought his wife Hulda Katherina Pulkkenen to Australia. They lived first in Melbourne and then in Sydney, while Matti continued working as a seaman. In 1936 he was accidentally killed aboard the SS Wanganella.
- Maximilian Kipman came from a well-off, cultured Polish family; he was born Copenhagen, Denmark, while his parents were travelling in Europe. Spending some time in Switzerland and England, he came to Australia in November 1914 together with his younger brother Stanley Kipman. They settled in Sydney and worked as cashiers.
- Maximilian volunteered to the army but was rejected; on the 5th of May 1917 he was accepted as a member of the clerical staff, working in the Quartermaster section of Liverpool camp. He also worked in the Censor’s staff as an interpreter. In July 1917 he was discharged in order to join AIF. He was allocated to the Engineer Officers Training School, but discharged two months later. One the reasons for this could have been denunciations of his ‘pro-German’ sympathies sent in by the members of the public.
- After the war Maximilian worked as a piano tuner in Sydney and NSW; later he became a liqueur salesman. In 1922 he married Henrietta Christina Mclean, whom he later divorced. His second wife, Florence Hooke, died due to an attempted abortion.
- Stanley (Stanislaus) Kipman, the younger brother of Maximilian, was born in Warsaw, travelled all over Europe and came to Australia in 1914.
- He applied to enlist in the AIF in 1914, 1915, and 1916, but was rejected for medical reasons. Finally, like his brother, he was accepted in the Quartermaster section of Liverpool camp. After two months he was discharged to join the AIF. He was accepted to Home service and posted to the wireless section, but was discharged in January 1918 as medically unfit. The denunciations against his brother could have affected his army career as well.
- After the war he lived in Sydney, working as a piano tuner. In the late 1920s he moved to the USA, where he settled in Oakland, California.
Victor Ivan Mikolaizyk
- Victor Ivan Mikolaizyk, a seaman of Russian-Estonian background, came to Australia in 1913 and worked in Sydney as a winch driver.
- Enlisting in the AIF, he served with the 2nd Battalion on the Western Front.
- After the war he continued his occupation as a seaman.
August 13, 2017
- Jacob Danoff, a Russian seaman from Levaia Rossosh in Central Russia, came to Australia in 1913 and worked as a labourer. He was active in the radical Russian community in Brisbane.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Brisbane, he was allocated to the Mining Corps reinforcements, but discharged the next year because of ‘mental disease’.
- He died in 1923 in Sydney.
- Alexander Kiviselg, an Estonian seaman from Pärnu, came to Australia in April 1917 and enlisted a few days later.
- Enlisting in Sydney, he served with the 3rd Battalion on the Western Front. In September 1918, during the advance south of Perone, he was severely wounded in the leg, arm, head and shoulder.
- Recovering, he returned to Australia, but died as the result of an accident in September 1919.
- Alexander Stuhrit, a Latvian from Libava (Liepaja), claimed to serve for 4 years in the American Navy. In February 1917 he worked on ships in South Australia as a donkey-man. He got into trouble with the police for assault and soon afterwards enlisted in the AIF.
- He served as a sapper with the 3rd Tunnelling Company on the Western Front.
- While in Scotland, he married Agnes Aitken, but returned to Australia on his own, and after a number of further assaults and troubles with the law, left for the USA. He married there and worked on American ships.
- John Rautio, a Finn from Oulu, came to Australia in 1890 and worked as a gardener in Sydney.
- He enlisted in the AIF, but was discharged four months later as being ‘overage’ (he was 46 years old by that time).
- His trail disappears after the war.
- William Brining, a Latvian seaman from Riga, enlisted in the AIF in Newcastle.
- He served with the 36th and 34th battalions on the Western Front. He was killed on 31 August 1918 at the battle for Peronne.
- His mother in Riga was found after the war and received an Australian pension.
August 8, 2017
- George Pavoloff was born in the St Petersburg area and came to Australia 1916, working as a barber and hairdresser.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Grafton, he served with the 1st Battalion on the Western Front. In March 1918 he was gassed and in September 1918, during the advance south of Peronne, was wounded in the leg.
- After the war he returned to Australia, but no information can be found after that time.
Hemming Karl Hemming
- Hemming Karl Hemming, a Finnish seaman from Abo (Turku), by the time of his enlistment lived in Melbourne, working as a turner.
- Enlisting in the AIF, he sailed with the 1st Pioneer Battalion for the Western Front, but became sick while in Liverpool and was returned to Australia.
- He died in 1924 in Heidelberg, Victoria.
- Kaarl Kinninen, a Finnish seaman, enlisted in the AIF in Perth.
- He served with the 11th Battalion on the Western Front. In August 1918, during the Amiens advance, he was wounded in the leg and shoulder and repatriated to Australia.
- After the war he returned to Western Australia and received a pension in 1920, but disappears from the records after that.
- Harry Anderson, a Finn from Helsingfors (Helsinki), was farming in Western Australia.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Perth, he served with the 10th Light Horse Regiment in Egypt.
- After the war he returned to Western Australia.
John Victor Michelson
August 6, 2017
- John Victor Michelson, a Latvian seaman, came to South Australia in 1912. He settled on Witera Station near Talia, working as a farm hand.
- In April 1917 he enlisted in the AIF in Adelaide, and married Mary Irene White, a girl from Milang, a few months later; their first child was born when he was serving in the AIF overseas. He served with the 3rd Light Horse Regiment in Egypt.
- After the war he took up farming in Olive Hill and Cungena, West Coast of South Australia, working as a carpenter and contractor. He and his wife raised a large family and two of their children served in the AIF in WWII. John himself enlisted in the AIF and served in a garrison battalion. After the war he was the president of the local sub-branch of the R.S.L. in Milang.
Matts Anders Lehrback
- Matts Anders Lehrback, a Finnish seaman from Uleaborg (Oulu), came to Australia in 1884 on the Russian barque Felix and deserted his ship in Geelong. He continued working as a seaman and stevedore, settling in Fremantle, where he joined the Freemason Lodge and married Louisa Rasmus. They had four children. Matts later worked as a water-police constable, station hand and miner in Western Australia.
- He enlisted in the AIF in April 1917, but was discharged a month later as an ‘overage’ person (by that time he was nearly fifty).
- After the war he lived in Western Australia working as a labourer; his son Carl Sanfrid served in the AIF in WWII.
Waine Henry Pontynen
- Waine Henry Pontynen, a Finnish sailor from Helsingfors (Helsinki), came to Sydney in 1916 and worked as a house painter.
- He enlisted in the AIF in Brisbane and served with the 4th Machine Gun Battalion on the Western Front.
- After the war, while in England, he married an English widow, Catherine Sharp (née Cummins) and came with his wife to Brisbane, where he worked as a painter.
- Joseph Skovronski, a Polish man from Warsaw, came to Brisbane in 1912 via the Russian Far East, where he spent a number of years before emigration. His brother Stanley Skownonski lived in Australia as well. Upon arrival Joseph worked as a signwriter in Brisbane and Sydney.
- Enlisting in the AIF he served with the 1st Field Company Engineers on the Western Front.
- After the war he settled in Sydney, married an Australian girl, Isabella Toakley, and continued his occupation as a painter, decorator and a successful artist.
- John Arman, an Estonian from Pärnu, in 1916 moved from Halifax, in the cane-cutting area of Queensland, to Greta in New South Wales, working as a labourer.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney, he served with the 45th and 56th battalions on the Western Front. In October 1918 he was killed during the attack on Hindenburg Line.
- His family in Estonia was never found.
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