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.
September 17, 2017
Carl Gustav Sauvola
- Carl Gustav Sauvola, a Finnish seaman from Brahestad (Raahe), came to South Australia in 1904 and worked as a labourer and later as an ‘electrical labourer’. In 1908 he married an Australian girl, Emily Louisa Kerr; their first children were born in Port Adelaide, but after the death of their two daughters they moved to Melbourne.
- Carl enlisted in the AIF in Melbourne, but was transferred to the home service, 3rd District Guard Corps – by that time he was 40 years old. In December 1918 he was discharged, but in January 1919 enlisted for home service in the Central Flying School, Laverton.
- After the war he lived with his family in Melbourne, working as a fitter’s labourer.
- Alfred Miller, a Polish man from Lodz, was a motor mechanic by trade. He came to Western Australia in 1914 and later moved to Adelaide.
- He tried to enlist in the AIF in October 1916, but was rejected because of defective vision. Enlisting in August 1917 in Adelaide, he was allocated to the Army Medical Corps, but was discharged in December 1917, getting the position of an instructor for motor and electrical work for returned men.
- In 1920-1921 he travelled all over Australia in search of work and finally settled in Melbourne.
- Charles Anderson, a Finnish seaman, came to Australia in 1914 and worked as a miner.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Nymagee, NSW, he served with the 2nd Tunnelling Company on the Western Front. In October 1918, during the advance on the Hindenburg Line, he was wounded in the arm and returned to Australia.
- After the war he lived in Sydney.
- Jack Shilony enlisted in the AIF as a ‘Russian Jew’; in one case he stated he was born in Jerusalem in Palestine, in another case, in Marseilles in France. Most likely he grew up in Palestine, where his parents were living. He came to Western Australia in 1913 and was working as a moulder apprentice. In 1916-1917 he worked as a ward orderly in Perth Public Hospital.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Perth, he served with the 10th Field Ambulance on the Western Front.
- After the war he stayed in Perth, working as a hospital attendant and later as a laundry man. In 1925 he married Julie Staricoff. After his wife’s death in 1937 he married Olga Rosenberg. Retiring, he moved to Melbourne in the late 1970s.
Emil Everd Hofdahl
September 13, 2017
- Emil Everd Hofdahl, a Finnish seaman from Tammerfors (Tampere), came to Australia in 1916, deserting his ship.
- He tried to enlist in October 1916, but was not successful. He was accepted at the second attempt, in August 1917, and was sent to work to the Australian General Hospital as an orderly. In April 1918 suspicions arouse that he was a German, although he stated that he did not know the German language, and he was discharged.
- After the war he continued serving as a seaman.
- Jacob Nevola, a Finnish seaman from Wasa (Vaasa), came to South Australia in 1914.
- In 1916 he twice enlisted in the AIF, but was discharged because of drunkenness. His third attempt, in July 1917, was successful and he served with the 50th Battalion on the Western Front. In June 1918 he was wounded in the knee, but rejoined his battalion.
- Before leaving for the front he married an Australian woman, Alice Newton, and lived in South Australia, working as a labourer and gardener. He had a number of convictions because of drunkenness, especially after his wife’s death in 1934, and tragically drowned in the Murray River while drinking with a group of swagmen.
John Henry Nelson
- John Henry Nelson, a Finnish seaman from Helsingfors (Helsinki), came to South Australia in December 1916 and worked in the smelters and on coasting crafts.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Port Adelaide, he served with the 48th Battalion on the Western Front. A month after his arrival to the front, in May 1918, he was wounded in the right hand, losing four fingers. The ship Barunga, on which he was returning to Australia, was torpedoed by the Germans, but he survived.
- After the war he married an Australian girl, Vera Constance Hooper, and lived in Adelaide, working as a labourer.
- Hyam Ospovat, a Jewish man from Dvinsk (now Daugavpils, Latvia), grew up in England and was working on the ships as a steward. In May 1917 he came to Australia.
- He enlisted in the AIF in Newcastle in July, but was discharged soon after as medically unfit.
- In 1918 he married an Australian girl, Ella Ada Hughes, and had a son. He could not find employment and, while in Queensland, drowned in 1920 while crossing the flooded Flinders River.
- Bruno Luoma was a Finnish seaman from Abo (Turku).
- He enlisted in the AIF in Tasmania, but was discharged soon after, probably because of his lack of naturalisation.
- After the war he continued seafaring and left for the USA.
Frank Joseph Wicks
September 10, 2017
- Frank Joseph Wicks was born in St Petersburg or Warsaw; by the time of his enlistment in the AIF he was working as a labourer in Queensland.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Charleville, Queensland, he served with the Tunnelling Corps as a sapper on the Western Front.
- After the war he married an Australian girl, Mary Parkinson, and lived with his family in Bendigo, working as a labourer. During WWII he joined the AIF again.
- John Evanoff (served as Jacob Evonoff), a Russian seaman from Novo Dilizhan, in Elizavetpol Province in the Caucasus (now Armenia), came to Australia in April 1917 and enlisted in Sydney two months later.
- He served with the 53rd Battalion on the Western Front. In April 1918, two weeks after his arrival at the front, he was gassed, but continued his service. In September 1918, at the battle for Peronne, he was wounded in the leg and repatriated to Australia.
- In 1919, soon after his discharge from the army, he married an Australian girl, Catherine Mary Lindbeck, and lived with his family in Sydney working as a labourer for the Water Board Department, and later as a miner.
Walter Alen Weckman
- Walter Alen Weckman, a Finnish seaman from Vyborg, deserted his ship due to cruel treatment from the captain soon after their arrival at Fremantle in February 1917.
- He enlisted in the AIF in July 1917, and served with the 51st Battalion on the Western Front. In July 1918 he fell ill and was evacuated to England; on 9 November 1918, two day before the Armistice, he died of pneumonia.
- His relatives in Finland were found after the war.
John Edward Hendrickson
- John Edward Hendrickson, a Finnish seaman from Abo (Turku), enlisted in the AIF in Fremantle in July 1917 together with Weckman.
- Three months later he was discharged as medically unfit.
- No records about his life after the war have been found.
September 1, 2017
- Peter Wiselenski came from a peasant family in Slonim, Belarus. Leaving his home as a teenager, he spent five years in the USA, came to Brisbane in July 1917 and enlisted in the AIF a week later as Pete Wishkenlski.
- He served with the 2nd Tunnelling Company on the Western Front as a sapper.
- Returning to Australia, he married an Australian girl, Mary Eliza Revell. They took a land block in the soldiers’ settlement of Red Cliff, Victoria, where Peter worked as a farmer. Their son Peter Kelvin served in the AIF in WWII and Peter elder served in the volunteer defense corps.
- Alexis Kopin, a Polish carpenter, came to Brisbane from the Russian Far East in 1912. He worked in the cane-cutting areas of Central Queensland.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Melbourne in June 1917, he was sent to the Machine Gun Company for training. Two months later he asked to be discharged or to be transferred to the infantry, which raised his commanders’ suspicions.
- Finally he was discharged, applied for a passport from the Russian consul, and left for Russia in December 1917.
Sven Eugen Carlsson
- Sven Eugen Carlsson, a Finnish seaman from Helsingfors (Helsinki), came to Australia in December 1916.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Melbourne, he served with the 7th Battalion on the Western Front. In April 1918 he was wounded in the head, but recovered and returned to his battalion in August 1918. Two weeks later he was gassed, but survived. He was awarded Bronze Medal for his service.
- He was discharged from the army in London in July 1919 and his life after that is unknown.
- Alexander Hildon, a Finnish seaman from Oulu, came to Western Australia in about 1909 and worked as a farm hand in the Fremantle area.
- Enlisting in the AIF in June 1917, he was allocated to the 2nd Pioneer Battalion, but departed for the front only a year later. He was still in England when the war ended, but he was sent to the Western Front after that.
- After the war he lived in Fremantle, working as a labourer.
John Edward Larson
- John Edward Larson, a Finnish seaman from Kotka, came to Western Australia in 1906 and worked in the country as a labourer. He married an Australian girl, Rebecca Mary Beard, and had three children.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Perth, he served as a sapper with the 44th Battalion and the 11th Field Company Engineers on the Western Front.
- After the war he lived in Fremantle, working as a labourer. He died early, in 1928, leaving 7 young children.
Read more on the blog