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

The book is available from the following stockists:

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 (

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.


Latest Posts

Fuks, Lileystrom, Levet, Mast, Lakovsky

August 18, 2018

John Henry Fuks

  • John Henry Fuks, an Estonian from Derpt (Tartu), served in the Russian Army and participated in the Russo-Japanese War. He came to Australia in 1913 as a fireman and lived in Melbourne and Sydney working as a seaman, engineer and fitter.
  • Enlisting in the AIF as Jan Heinrich Fuks, he came with the 1st Pioneer Battalion to England, but arrived too late to go to the Western Front. He worked in a military hospital as a wardsman and interpreter.
  • While in England, he married Kathleen Bride Collins and returned with his wife to Australia. They took a soldier scheme farm at Yenda and raised a large family there. Their son John David fought in WWII in Malaya.

Hjalmar Lileystrom

  • Hjalmar Lileystrom, a Finnish seaman from Kotka, was living in Melbourne by the time of his enlistment in the AIF.
  • He enlisted in the AIF in Melbourne and took the oath, but was discharged a few days later.
  • In the following years he continued his occupation of a fireman.

Jacob Hendry Levet

  • Jacob Hendry Levet, an Estonian seaman from Revel (Tallinn), came to Australia in May 1917.
  • He enlisted in the AIF in Melbourne the day after Lileystrom, and his service did not last long either. He continued serving on British ships as a merchant seaman and was awarded a medal by the British government.
  • After the war he continued seafaring, naturalising in the USA. He continued to serve on the ships during WWII and died in 1942.

Joseph Mast

  • Joseph Mast, an Estonian from Arensburg (Kuressaare), came to Australia together with Levet in May 1917 as a greaser.
  • They joined the AIF together, and Mast was soon discharged as well.
  • After the war, he continued seafaring in the Pacific Ocean and in the Baltic Sea in 1920s.

David Lakovsky

  • David Lakovsky, a Jewish man, was born in Ekaterinoslav (Dnipro) in Ukraine and emigrated with his family to Australia as a child in 1903. They lived in Fremantle, Kalgoorlie, and Broken Hill, finally moving to Sydney, where David had some training in the Home Defence.
  • Enlisting in the AIF at the age of 19, he was allocated to artillery units and had some training in Liverpool in England, but arrived on the Western Front soon after the Armistice.
  • He was discharged in London and went to America, where he changed his name to David Lake. He married Hannah Brumer and returned to Australia in the 1920s, later working as the general sales manager of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures.

Blasser, Jarvenpaa, Soin, Lambert

August 11, 2018

Kurst Blasser

  • Kurst Blasser from Dago (Hiiumaa) Island in Estonia lived in Sydney working as a sailmaker and rigger by the time of his enlistment in the AIF.
  • Enlisting in December 1917, he joined the 34th Battalion on the Western Front in July 1918, but was injured a week later and repatriated to Australia.
  • After his discharge he tried to enlist once again, in May 1919, to be a concentration camp guard, but was not attested. In 1920 he applied for a war pension, but disappears from the records after that.

Ivar Jarvenpaa

  • Ivar Jarvenpaa, a seaman from Hämeenlinna in Finland, came to Australia in 1913, deserting from his ship, and worked in Sydney as a labourer.
  • He enlisted in the AIF and took the oath, but was re-examined and rejected a few days later.
  • He stayed in Sydney, and in June 1919 died in Waterfall Sanatorium.

Leonard Soin

  • Leonard Soin, a seaman from Abo (Turku) in Finland, came to Australia in 1913 and served on the ships in Sydney; he also had the trade of fitter and turner.
  • He first tried to enlist in Western Australia in 1915, but was rejected because of poor English. In December 1917 he was accepted and reached the Western Front in October 1918 with the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade, serving as a driver.
  • After the war he married an Australian girl, Florence Hayes, and lived in Sydney, continuing his occupation as a seaman, but after the death of their daughter Elsie in 1929, their marriage did not last and Leonard moved to Victoria, where he worked as a fitter.

George Washington Lambert

  • George Washington Lambert was born in St Petersburg, where his father, an American engineer, was working. His father died before George was born and his mother with the children moved first to Germany and then to England. In 1887, when George was 13, they emigrated to Australia. Here he studied art and became a professional artist. In 1900 he married Amelia Beatrice Absell and had two sons.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in England, George Lambert was appointed an official war artist. During 1918-1919 he visited Egypt, Palestine, the Western Front, and Gallipoli, where he made numerous sketches which were later turned into famous battle paintings including ‘Anzac, the landing 1915’ and ‘A sergeant of the Light Horse’.
  • Lambert returned to Australia in 1921, continuing his career as an artist and winning the Archibald Prize in 1927.

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.

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