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.

Welcome!


Latest Posts


Tamppinen, Kaipanen, Doobrofsky, Isaacs, Halin, Samson

January 4, 2018

Vaina Tamppinen

  • Vaina Tamppinen, a Finn from Helsingfors (Helsinki), came to Queensland as a baby with his parents, the followers of Matti Kurikka, in 1900. His father died soon after the arrival and his mother remarried. By the time of his enlistment in the AIF he was farming in Nambour in Queensland.
  • In November 1917, at the age of 18, he enlisted in the AIF in Brisbane. With the reinforcements to the 31st Battalion he reached the Western Front in October 1918 and stayed there for the next nine months, working after the Armistice in the Australian Graves detachment.
  • After the war he married Lillian Grace Edith May Krosch, and lived in Nambour working as a carter, labourer and shopkeeper. He also conducted work for the local RSL.

Emil Kaipanen

  • Emil Kaipanen, a Finnish seaman from Helsingfors (Helsinki), came to Australia in 1908 and worked as a sailor on the ships.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney, he reached the Western Front with the 35th Battalion in July 1918. A few days after his arrival to the front, he was wounded to the right arm and evacuated to England.
  • After the war he returned to Australia and was working on the missionary ship ‘John Williams’. In 1920 he naturalised, but soon after that disappears from the Australian records. It is quite likely that he died in England in 1924.

George Doobrofsky

  • George Doobrofsky, a Russian from Petrograd, arrived at Australia as a sailor in November 1917 from California, where he had registered for army service.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney, a week after his arrival, he sailed to England with the 1st Pioneers Battalion, but reached the Western Front only after the Armistice.
  • After the war he continued working as a seaman and labourer, occasionally getting in trouble with the law; in the 1930s he was suspected to be a Communist.

Harry Isaacs

  • Harry Isaacs, a Jewish man from Jakobstadt (Jekabpils) in Latvia, spent several years in Argentina and England before coming to Australia. In 1912 he came to Australia with his wife, Minnie, and settled in Melbourne, where he worked as a hair dresser and hawker.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in November 1917 in secret from his wife, he was discharged three weeks later because his wife was in ill health.
  • After the war he lived with his growing family in Melbourne, visiting South Africa, where their relatives lived. During WWII he joined the AIF again and served as a batman in Kantara in Greece.

John Halin

  • John Halin, a Finnish rigger from Abo (Turku), came to Australia in 1908 and worked on the ships, being based in Port Adelaide and Newcastle.
  • He enlisted in the AIF in Newcastle in November 1917, but was discharged soon afterwards.
  • In 1920 he left for the USA, where he continued working in his occupation of a rigger. In 1925 he married a Finnish woman Ruth and settled in California. During WWII he registered for US Army service.

Antonio Samson

  • Antonio Samson, a Pole from Kurkliai in Lithuania, came to Australia in June 1917 as a seaman.
  • In November 1917 he enlisted in the AIF in Sydney, but was discharged two months later.
  • Soon after that he disappears from the records.

Rossi, Trellick, Gyllensten, Saari, Smelga

December 25, 2017

Enoch Rossi

  • Enoch Rossi, a Finnish seaman from Kuopio, came to Sydney at the end of 1915.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Townsville in October 1917, he served with the 49th Battalion on the Western Front.
  • In 1919, while in London, he married Finnish woman Ilma Keihonen and returned to Australia with her. After the war they lived in Brisbane, where he worked as a fitter. The marriage did not last long. By 1926 Enoch moved to Melbourne, changing his surname to Ross. There he worked as a labourer and cement worker. During WWII he enlisted in the AIF and served in the garrison battalion.

Harry Trellick

  • Harry Trellick, a Latvian seaman from Libava (Liepaja), came to Australia in 1906 and worked on the ships in Victoria.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Melbourne, he served with the 3rd Pioneer Battalion on the Western Front.
  • After the war he married an Australian girl, Lily Guthrie, settled in Melbourne and continued serving on the ships.

Carl Eric Gyllensten

  • Carl Eric Gyllensten from Helsingfors (Helsinki) came to Sydney in 1912. Australian newspapers later reported that he turned out to be a Russian Count who lost his fortune in the financial crash of a London bank. He worked as a surveyor, visiting Darwin and Papua in New Guinea.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Port Augusta, SA, Gyllensten was allocated to the Medical Corps reinforcements and served in England. After the war he took a course in surveying at King’s College, London, and returned to Australia in September 1919 as a nursing staff member aboard a troopship.
  • After the war he settled in South Australia, taking a block of land in Berri not long before his premature death.

Hugo Michael Walter Saari

  • Hugo Michael Walter Saari from Marihamn in Finland came to Australia in 1914, probably as a seaman, and worked as a labourer.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney, he served with the 15th Company Engineers and the Motor Transport Section in France, arriving there after the armistice.
  • After the war he vagabonded all over Australia, worked as a seaman and often got into trouble with the police for his disorderly behaviour, being known by his Australian nickname, Pappinburra Bill.

John Smelga

  • John Smelga, a Latvian seaman from Riga, came to Melbourne in October 1917 and enlisted in the AIF three weeks later.
  • Enlisting in the AIF as John Smilga, he sailed with the 39th Battalion to the Western Front, but received a head wound on the ship and, upon reaching London, was finally returned to Australia.
  • While in London he married Florence Quinn, who joined him in Australia in 1920. They settled in Melbourne, where he was working as a waterside worker.

Fager, Aalto, Lahti, Lindquist, Abrahamovitch

November 11, 2017

David Fager

  • David Fager, a Finnish seaman from Helsingfors (Helsinki), was working in Port Pirie as a labourer by the time of his enlistment.
  • He enlisted in the AIF in Port Pirie, but was discharged a few days later as medically unfit.
  • After the war, in 1919, he appears in the Police Gazette of South Australia as an Italian subject living in Port Pirie, but after that his trail disappears.

Gustaf Nikolai Aalto

  • Gustaf Nikolai Aalto, a Finnish seaman from the Abo (Turku) area, came to Australia in 1911 and was working on the ships in Sydney.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney, he arrived with the 2nd Battalion in England, but became sick and was returned to Australia.
  • After the war he moved to Mackay in Queensland, where he worked as a labourer and waterside worker. For years his address was ‘Town Beach, Mackay’, where he was probably camping.

Albert Lahti

  • Albert Lahti, a Finnish seaman from Vyborg, came to Australia in 1914 and continuing seafaring, visiting different Australian ports.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney, he served with the 35th Battalion on the Western Front.
  • After the war continued serving on ships sailing from Sydney.

Lars Walter Lindquist

  • Lars Walter Lindquist, a Finnish ship’s fireman from Helsingfors (Helsinki), was in Sydney working as a labourer by the time of his enlistment.
  • Enlisting in the AIF together with Lahti, he served on the Western Front with the 4th Battalion and 1st Ammunition Unit.
  • After the war he lived in Newcastle.

Henry George Abrahamovitch

  • Henry George Abrahamovitch, a Jewish man from Warsaw (he also stated to be born in Odessa), came to Australia as a seaman in about 1903. He worked in Victoria as a rabbit trapper.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in October 1917 in Melbourne, he served as an orderly in hospital, but was discharged two weeks later as medically unfit. He made a new attempt to enlist in May 1918, but his service did not last long. During the war he published two patriotic songs and contributed articles to newspapers.
  • After the war he carried his swag around New South Wales. During WWII he made a new attempt to enlist in the AIF in spite of the fact that he was sixty years old.

Kensman, Lottanen, Rytko, Farm, Smitt

October 17, 2017

John Joseph Kensman

  • John Joseph Kensman, a seaman from Libava (Liepaja) in Latvia, was living in the Sailors’ Home in Port Adelaide by the time of his enlistment in the AIF.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Adelaide in October 1917, he was discharged two months later as medically unfit.
  • In 1918 he returned to the USA and attempted to enlist in the US Army; by that time he was working as a riveter in the Submarine Boat Corps.

Wilhelm Lottanen

  • Wilhelm Lottanen, a Finnish seaman from Vyborg, came to Australia in 1915 and by the time of his enlistment was in Sydney, working as a labourer.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney, he served with the 3rd Battalion on the Western Front, where he was gassed in August 1918.
  • After the war he married an Australian girl, Catherine McGirvan, and settled in Newcastle, where he worked as a labourer.

Anton Rytko

  • Anton Rytko, a Finnish seaman from Sakkijarvi, came to Sydney in June 1916 and worked as a labourer.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney, he served with the 4th Pioneer Battalion on the Western Front.
  • After the war he lived in Sydney, working as a labourer.

Oscar Emmanuel Farm

  • Oscar Emmanuel Farm, a Finnish seaman from Helsingfors, came to Australia in 1905 and lived in Sydney.
  • Enlisting in the AIF together with Rytko, he served with the 4th Pioneer Battalion on the Western Front.
  • After the war he lived in Sydney and died early.

Frederik Smitt

  • Frederik Smitt, an Estonian seaman from Piarnu, came to Australia in December 1916, deserting from his ship.
  • He enlisted in the AIF together with Rytko and Farm and served with the 4th Pioneer Battalion on the Western Front.
  • After the war he lived in different cities in Australia and continued working as a seaman.

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