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.
January 3, 2017
- Karl Petterson, an Estonian seaman from Revel (Tallinn), came to South Australia in 1910 and worked as a labourer on wharves in Port Adelaide, later moving to Sydney. He had a de facto wife, Monica Madeline Armadale, and a son, Arthur Armadale, born in 1913.
- Enlisting in the AIF, he sailed with the 20th Battalion to the Western Front. In October 1917, less than two months after his arrival to the front, he was killed at the battle for Passchendaele in Belgium.
Kustaa Wilhelmi Myllymaki
- Kustaa Wilhelmi Myllymaki, a Finnish seaman, came to Sydney from America in July 1916. He was married and his wife remained in Finland.
- Enlisting in the AIF, he sailed with the reinforcements to the 30th Battalion to the Western Front, but got sick in England and was returned to Australia as medically unfit.
- After the war he stayed in Sydney, and becoming paralysed, was unable to receive a pension from the Repatriation Department. He died in 1925.
- Nicholas Evert came from Gdov in St Petersburg Province; his father was Estonian and his mother was Russian. As a seaman he spent over ten years in the USA and Canada, arriving in South Australia in October 1916.
- Enlisting in the AIF, he served with the Machine Gun Battalions on the Western Front.
- After the war he worked as a labourer in Victoria and South Australia, becoming a member of the Socialist Labour Party. He died in 1927.
January 2, 2017
- Peter Tkachuk, a Ukrainian from Dubno in Volyn Province, was a blacksmith and a seaman by trade. He deserted his ship in Australia in October 1916.
- He served in the 2nd and 7th Light Horse regiments in Egypt and Palestine as a trooper and was later transferred to the 9th Battalion on the Western Front.
- After the war he continued working as a sailor, but got sick and spent the rest of his days at the Gladesville Mental Hospital, NSW, where he died in 1926.
Paul Ephriam Zundolovich
- Paul Ephriam Zundolovich was born in a Jewish family in Telshai district in Lithuania, was baptised, and studied in Rome to become a Roman Catholic priest. He came to Australia in 1892 and worked in outback NSW.
- Enlisting in the AIF, he accompanied Australian troops to England as a chaplain.
- After the war he continued his work in outback NSW.
- John Skalberg, a Latvian from Wolmar (Valmiera), who also claimed to be born in St Petersburg, graduated from high school in Russia. By the time of his enlistment in the AIF he was living in Melbourne, working as a labourer.
- He served with the Machine Gun Companies on the Western Front. In May 1918 he was wounded at Camiers and, after months in hospitals and in the Depot, returned to Australia.
- After the war he settled in Melbourne, where he was working as a salesman. In 1929 he married an Australian girl, Helen McFadyen. During WWII he enlisted in the AIF and served as a clerk in the Account section.
- Alexander Timofejeff, a Russian from Petrograd, enlisted in the AIF in Sydney.
- He was allocated to the 13th Battalion, but discharged in March 1917.
- After the war he disappears from the records.
Frans Victor Tamminen
December 26, 2016
- Frans Victor Tamminen, a Finnish carpenter, probably came to Australia as a seaman.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Melbourne, he served with the 4th Australian Light Horse regiment in Egypt. He was wounded in May 1918, but continued his service.
- He died soon after returning from the war in 1920.
August Arthur Huhta
- August Arthur Huhta, a Finnish seaman from Helsingfors, landed in Australia in April 1916 deserting his ship in Melbourne. Before his enlistment in the AIF he worked as a labourer.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney, he left his unit five months later and was discharged as a deserter.
- He continued working as a fireman after leaving the AIF.
- Zacharias Pieven came from a Cossack family in the township of Saltykova Divitsa in Chernigov Province. He worked as fitter and mechanic in Odessa, Nizhni Novgorod, and Harbin, where he married Klavdia Kroloiski. Pieven sailed to Australia in 1911 and his wife and newborn daughter soon joined him. They settled in Sydney, where their son was born in 1913, but a year later Klavdia tragically lost her life.
- Zacharias, working as a fitter at the NSW Government Railway Workshops, enlisted in the AIF in November 1916, but was discharged as medically unfit on the same day. Five months later he died.
- An Australian family brought up his children, who preserved the Zacharias family archive.
- George Didenko was born in Akkerman (now Belgorod-Dnestrovsky, Ukraine). Working as a ships’ fireman, he came to South Australia in 1911.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Adelaide, he sailed to the front with the 5th Pioneer Battalion, but was found medically unfit while in England and returned to Australia.
- After the war, George lived in Adelaide up to 1920, but after that he disappears from the Australia records; most likely he had left Australia for good.
December 21, 2016
- Henry Shulgen, a Polish Jew, by 1914 lived in Cairns working as an optician, watchmaker and jeweller. He tried to enlist in the AIF in April 1915 in Cairns, but was not successful.
- Moving to Sydney, he married an Australian woman, Rachel Greenfield, and tried to enlist again in November 1916, but his service did not last long. His service records have not been found.
- After the war he lived in Sydney, working as a jeweler.
- Alexander Mentze, a Latvian seaman, came to South Australia with his Russian friends Edward Seltin and Oscar Strauberg in November 1916. They deserted ship and, under the pressure of the Russian consul, enlisted in the AIF a few days later.
- Alexander was discharged from the army soon after enlistment because of an old injury to his elbow.
- He subsequently worked in the coastal shipping of South Australia and New South Wales, settling in Sydney where he married an Australian woman, Mary Green.
Edward Ottomar Seltin
- Edward Ottomar Seltin, a seaman from Rujenê in Latvia, served for two years on the ships in England before deserting his ship in Australia.
- He served with the 5th Pioneer Battalion on the Western Front. In March 1918 he was wounded at Messines, but after recovering rejoined his battalion and served to the end of the war.
- Settling in Sydney, he married an Australian girl, Florence Sherwood, and had a son Edward, who later recorded his memoirs. Seltin Sr worked as a coal lumper and later became a tram driver.
- Oscar Strauberg, also a Latvian from Riga, served together with Seltin in the 5th Pioneer Battalion on the Western Front.
- After the war he worked on the coastal shipping out of Port Kembla until he lost his arm in an accident on a ship.
- Fedor Stenger, an artist (most likely a performer) from Riga, came to Australia not long before enlistment; his wife and two children stayed in Singapore and India, where earlier he was probably a planter.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Melbourne in October 1916 under the pressure of the Russian consulate, he was discharged a month later for family reasons. Nevertheless, going to Sydney, he re-enlisted a week later. He served with the 1st Pioneer Battalion on the Western Front until he was wounded in April 1918 at Hazebrouck.
- He was returned to Australia and discharged in Sydney, but after that he disappears from the Australian records.
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