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).
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.
April 17, 2015
Alexander Peter Karelin
- Alexander Peter Karelin came from Vladivostok to North Queensland in 1907 as a sailor. He was an educated man from a well-off St Petersburg family; his father worked in the St Petersburg Naval Office. In Australia Alexander worked as a railway-construction labourer at Proserpine, Rockhampton and Blackall in Queensland and, in letters sent to the Russian newspaper in Brisbane, wrote about working conditions in Queensland.
- Enlisting in April 1915, he fought at Gallipoli with the 9th Battalion, but contracted enteric fever there and was returned to Australia. With other members of the 9th Battalion he singed the photograph of Gallipoli landing testifying his blending into the Gallipoli mateship.
- Recuperating in Australia he re-enlisted and rejoined his unit in France, fighting at the Somme. In April 1917 at the battle for Lagnicourt, when the Germans counter-attacked, his moment came. His commanding officer wrote how he ‘led a party across 150 yards of open roadway swept by machine gun and rifle fire and took up a position where he brought fire to bear on a party of the enemy which was attempting to outflank the company’. For ‘his coolness and courage’ he was awarded a Military Medal – the award was made the day after he was killed in action at Second Bullecourt.
- There was a diary in his kit but it never reached his Russian family.
Albert Nickalay Morozoff
- Albert Nickalay Morozoff, a seaman from Odessa, deserted his ship in Port Adelaide in November 1914.
- Enlisting in the AIF six months later, he served at Gallipoli with the 10th Battalion and then continued his service on the Western Front with the 50th Battalion. In August and September 1916 he was twice wounded at the battle for Mouquet Farm and then wounded again in January 1917 in the arm and invalided to Australia. Recuperating there he reenlisted, but came to England when the war was nearly finished.
- He left Australia soon after the war, worked on the ships in the Pacific and died in San Francisco in 1945.
- Charles Lautala, a Finnish seaman from Hamina, came to Australia in 1896 as a young man. He lived in Sydney, Repton and Nambucca Heads working as a labourer and fisherman.
- Enlisting in the AIF he served at Gallipoli with the 19th Battalion; he was wounded there in the wrist in September 1915 but upon recovery returned to the trenches and fought till the final evacuation in December 1915. He continued his service on the Western Front, where in July 1916, he was severely wounded at Pozieres, receiving gun shot wounds to his arm, leg and back. He survived and was invalided back to Australia.
- After the war he lived in Nambucca Heads working as a fisherman.
April 11, 2015
- Vasily Boltinkof, an engine fitter, came from the village of Boguchar near Voronezh in Central Russia. In 1912 he boarded a ship in India together with Jackow Petroff and landed in Fremantle. They worked together in Holyoake district, but then Boltinkof moved to Sydney and Melbourne.
- His service in the AIF was not long: he was discharged six weeks after entering with a note ‘to rejoin his regiment in Voronezh’.
- He disappears from the records after that.
Arthur Florentin Carlsson
- Arthur Florentin Carlsson from the Kimito in Abo area in Finland came to Australia in 1907 and worked as a labourer and a miner in Gippsland, King Island and in Derby in Tasmania.
- He was the first Russian subject to enlist in the AIF in Tasmania. He served with the 7th Field Ambulance in Gallipoli and on the Western Front. In July 1916, in the battle for Pozieres, he received a gunshot wound to the forehead and shell shock and was invalided to Australia.
- After the war he lived in Derby with his wife.
April 7, 2015
- Frank Novotny was a Bohemian from Prague, which was within the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time. He came to Australia in 1911 and lived in Sydney working as a tailor.
- In 1915 he enlisted in the AIF as a Russian Pole from Warsaw. While training in the camp, he wrote a letter to the military authorities, admitting that he was a Bohemian, rather than Russian, and asking to allow him to serve in the AIF, as, he argued, ‘we, Bohemians, are the bitter enemies of Germans’. Nevertheless he was discharged as an enemy subject.
- Gregory Smagin came to Brisbane from Eniseisk in Siberia soon after the war broke out, leaving his wife in Russia.
- Enlisting in the 15th Battalion in Townsville, he travelled to Gallipoli per Karoola with Glowacki and Roomianzoff. Later he served as a gunner in the 4th Division Ammunition Column on the Western Front. In July 1918, after Russian withdrawal from the war and Britain support to the ‘White’ Russian Army, he refused soldering in the Australian Army. He was placed under close arrest, investigated, and finally returned to Australia ‘on account of Russian nationality’.
- After the war Smagin married a Russian woman and lived in Innisfail, working for the city council. In 1929, during a conflict with another Russian, Nikolas Dvorik, who allegedly claimed that he was living in the trenches like a worm, Smagin initiated a court case where his AIF comrade Stanley Siwczynski came to his defense as a witness.
- John Volkoff, a carpenter from the village of Malyi Iukhtunur in Viatka Province, came to Brisbane in 1912 via the Far East.
- He enlisted in the AIF in Townsville together with Smagin; and came to Gallipoli with the 15th Battalion per Karoola. Two days after landing, in August 1915, he was killed in the Lone Pine battle.
- His family in Malyi Iukhtunur was never found.
April 2, 2015
- Leonard Noweetsky was a draughtsman from Zmerinka in Ukraine; his mother lived in Khabarovsk in Siberia.
- He enlisted in the AIF in Rockhampton, a week after the six ‘Russians’, and was attached to the gun section of the 26th Battalion. He survived Gallipoli, but was killed at Tel-el-Kebir in an accident when a road-making roller came loose and hit his horses, making them bolt in fear and drag him down the road.
- His mother was never found.
- On 1 April 1915 six Russians came to the recruiting depot in Rockhampton to enlist in the AIF. Two of them were Belarusians – Justin Glowacki from Zhabinka near Brest and Andrew Jabinsky from Borisov near Minsk. Two Ukrainians were from the Kiev area: Nicholas Roomianzoff was from Sabadash and Joseph Rudezky from Skvira. Russian George Vasilieff was from Vladivostok and Ossetian Thomas Habaeff came from Humalag in the Caucasus Mountains. They all were in their mid-twenties and arrived in Australia from the Russian Far East one or two years earlier. Three of them – Glowacki, Rudezky and Vasilieff – had earlier served in the Russian Army. They had a variety of occupations: Glowacki was a cook, Jabinski – an engineer, Rudezky – a chauffeur, Vasilieff – a locksmith and Habaeff and Roomianzoff were labourers. Habaeff, landing in Melbourne, followed the pattern of settlement usual for Ossetians in Australia: he worked at the Port Pirie smelters and then in mines in Broken Hill and Newcastle, until he shifted to Queensland. All the rest took the usual employment in Queensland: building railways, mining and cane cutting. Rockhampton, where they decided to enlist, was the centre of cane growing industry at the time.
- Upon enlistment Glowacki (who served as Usten Glavasky) and Roomianzoff were allocated to the 9th Battalion, while all the rest went to the newly formed 26th Battalion and sailed to Gallipoli per Ascanius and Karoola. Although all got sick, as did many other soldiers, with conditions ranging from dysentery to frostbite, none of the six were wounded at Gallipoli. On the Western Front, where they were all transferred, they were not so lucky. In August 1916 at the battle for Pozieres, Jabinski was gassed and shell shocked, while Rudezky was wounded in the left arm. Ten days later, in the battle for Mouquet Farm, Roomianzoff was wounded in the leg and right arm; in April 1918 he was wounded once again in the right arm. In May 1917 Habaeff was severely wounded at Bullecourt, receiving penetrating gunshot wounds to his chest and back. In spite of his wounds, Roomianzoff was the only one out of the six who stayed on the front till the end of the war and saw the announcement of the armistice there. Glowacki was withdrawn from the front in September 1918 ‘for family reasons’, while wounded Rudezky and Habaeff were evacuated in 1917 as medically unfit. Jabinski and Vasilieff were discharged in 1917 in London; Vasilieff was employed by the Russian government committee there, while Jabinski worked as a munitions worker.
- Glowacki’s numerous tales of his war service were preserved by his daughter Barbara Jago and were published in English and in Russian.
- After the war, Vasilieff’s trail disappears. All the rest of the men returned to the North Queensland and for a while led nomadic lives, shifting from place to place in search of work. By the 1920s their life paths took them in different directions. Rudezky fell sick with TB, probably contracted during his service. While recuperating in Stanthorpe Sanatorium he courted a local girl, Agnes Burns. They married and had six daughters. He died in 1931 in Dalby. Jabinski, unable to reunite with his wife and daughter left behind in Russia, married an Australian woman, Alice Chapman. They settled in Newcastle, where he worked as a fitter. Roomianzoff led a nomadic life in North Queensland and the Northern Territory for many years, working as a labourer and waterside worker; he died in Cairns in 1974.
- Thomas Habaeff (his original name was Tembulat Dudarkoevich Habaev), after years of a wandering life and work in the cane fields, choose to return to Ossetia, his motherland. At first, as a war invalid, he received an Australian pension via the British consulate in Moscow. When, during WWII, the Australian consulate was opened in the Soviet Union, they tried to locate Habaeff and learnt that he had died in 1939. Now, as the Russian archives are opening, we can learn more about his sad end: in 1938, while working as a fitter in Beslan, he was arrested by NKVD and died while in confinement.
- Justin Glowacki found employment in the mid 1920s as a steward on ships on South Pacific liners. In 1927 he moved to Paris and then to Warsaw, working as a caretaker in a bank. In Warsaw he married young Stefania and they had two daughters. Justin was working as a steward on British merchant ships in the Atlantic when the Second World War broke out. He served till the end of war as a merchant seaman, while his family endured the horrors of war. In 1945 he managed to rescue them from Warsaw and send them to Australia, where their youngest daughter Barbara was born to tell their story.
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