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.
May 1, 2015
- Alexander Gedwillo came from Riga in Latvia and was of Polish ethnic origin. He probably came to Australia as a seaman and lived in New South Wales working as a carpenter.
- He served in the AIF in Field Ambulance on the Western Front and was killed in the Somme battle in December 1916.
- Evan Kozakoff from Moscow came to Australia having behind 4 years of Russian Army service. He was an engine driver by trade.
- Enlisting in the AIF he was appointed as a nurse on the hospital ship Karoola, worked in the Clearing Station in Gallipoli, but upon reaching Western Front he was discharged for insufficient knowledge of English.
- He planned to return to Russia.
- John Kachan, a Ukrainian from Berdichev, served in the Russian Army in artillery and fought in the Russo-Japanese War.
- He enlisted in the AIF in Bundaberg and served at Gallipoli as a signaller, but got gravely mentally sick and died soon after return to Australia.
- He is missing from the Roll of Honour.
April 26, 2015
Today, in the Centenary of Gallipoli landing, let’s remember the names of Russian born Anzacs who took part in this historic event.
- Alexander Arn, Thomas Baer, and Robert Mayer (1st Battalion)
- Julays Beern, Adolf Eckland, and Arnold Sander (3rd Battalion)
- Abraham Levene, Alfred Markowicz, Erwin Rosberg, Nicholas Sindeeff, and Frederick Turner (4th Battalion)
- George Ball (7th Battalion)
- August Arreta, John Hendrickson, Karl Ljung, Albert Lukander, Alexander Sast, Charles Zander (10th Battalion)
- Alexander Hiltunen, and Edward Watson (12th Battalion)
- Martin Antin, Schija Fels, Martin Hamman, Fritz Zeeman (13th Battalion)
- Paul Zenewich and Thomas Lind (15th Battalion)
- Marian Pshevolodsky, Charles Cepkouski, Rudolph Mahlit, Eliazar Margolin, Charles Reppe, Kazis Walinkevic (16th Battalion)
- George Kamishansky and Francis Dyson (Artillery brigades)
- Sidney Luck (1st Hospital)
- Charles Haroldson (Service Corps)
Antti Kujala (he served as Thomas Lind), a fisherman from Vyborg, was killed during the landing, while Arn, Baer, Beern, Ball, Lukander, and Hiltunen were wounded.
April 24, 2015
Victor Romul Sylvester Vort-Ronald
- Victor Romul Sylvester Vort-Ronald is a bit of a mystery man. He stated he was born in St Petersburg, but sometimes referred to other places in France. He also stated that his father was Scottish, and his mother French. He, nevertheless, served in the Russo-Japanese war. He also claimed to have a good university education with subjects studied including commerce, political economy, history and philology. He probably came to South Australia from the Far East not long before his enlistment in the AIF. He stated his occupation as ‘formerly interpreter’ and a clerk with accounting experience.
- While still in the depot he married an Australian girl, Hilda Hoskins, their son Eugene Romul was born when Victor was already with the army in Britain. Originally he was in the 10th Battalion, but in London he was transferred to the AIF pay corps section. In 1918 he was returned to Australia suffering from fibrosis of lungs.
- After the war he worked for Broken Hill Smelters as Stores Accounting Officer for a while, and his second son Ron was born in 1919. In 1920 he joined no. 1 Flying Training School of Australian Air Force in Laverton, Victoria on an administrative position. He was discharged a year later due to medical problems. He found employment as a storekeeper with the Irrigation Department in Barmera in South Australia. In 1927 he suicided by drowning. His both sons fought for Australia in WWII.
- Constantine Pinkevitch, a Ukrainian from Kiev area, came to Brisbane from Harbin in 1911 and worked in Mount Morgan.
- Enlisting in the AIF, he was allocated to Field Ambulance and served at Gallipoli and on the Western Front, occasionally being detached to work as a cook.
- After the war he returned to Mount Morgan and married an Australian girl, Ellen Reynolds; they later moved to Newcastle where Pinkevitch worked as a turner and mechanic in the Railway workshops. Their two sons served in the 2nd AIF in WWII.
April 17, 2015
- George Plotnikoff from Ekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains was a civil engineer. By the time he landed in Brisbane in 1913 he was a widower approaching to his forty. In Australia he had to work as a labourer.
- When war broke out he enlisted in the AIF and served at Gallipoli and on the Western Front where he was in July 1916 he was wounded in face and left thigh at Pozieres. After recovering in British hospital he was employed by the Russian Government Committee in London. But after the Russian revolution he made his way to Vladivostok and from there returned to Australia in March 1918. He immediately reenlisted in the AIF and returned to the Western Front. But, as his sight became failing he was repatriated to Australia and discharged.
- He had a hard time, being unable to find engineering job and being unfit to work as a labourer. In 1923 he returned to Russia and disappears from the documents.
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.
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