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.
March 16, 2017
Roland Arthur Cooper
- Roland Arthur Cooper came from a family of a British engineer who was working in Russia. He was born in Mariupol in Ukraine and later lived in Volsk, but in 1909 the whole family moved to Sydney. Cooper was trained as a draughtsman, and with the outbreak of the war, he served in the Militia in Sydney before his parents allowed him to enlist in the AIF in 1917, when he was nineteen.
- He served as a gunner and a driver in the artillery regiments on the Western Front in 1918.
- Returning to Sydney after the war, he worked as a newsagent, taking over his father’s business. In 1932 he married Eileen Emily Moss.
- Alexander Rayzner, a Jewish man from Odessa, had lived in Hong Kong for four years prior to his arrival in Australia. Coming to Australia in 1913, he worked as a tailor in Sydney.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney, he was assigned to the Light Trench Mortar Battery, serving in a Depot, and was discharged half a year later as medically unfit.
- After his discharge Rayzner moved to Victoria, living in Melbourne and Armadale, where he settled with Ethel Bennett in 1918 and continued his occupation of a tailor.
Nicholai Charles Uppeneeck
- Nicholai Charles Uppeneeck, a Latvian from Riga, who had some experience of service on the submarines in the Russian Navy, came to Australia in 1911.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Adelaide, he was discharged four months later as medically unfit.
- After the war he married an Australian girl, Ettie Lavinia Grigsby, and raised a large family, working as a bicycle mechanic.
March 14, 2017
- Gilbert Solomon, a Jewish man from Siberia, came to Australia around 1911 and settled in Perth.
- He was discharged from the AIF soon after his enlistment as medically unfit.
- After the war he lived in Katanning, working as a tailor.
- Alexis Kouvaldin, a Russian seaman from Moscow, served for 5 years in the Russian Navy before he came to Australia in 1916.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney, he served with the Australian Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company on the Western Front.
- After the war lived in Newcastle, working in the port.
- Alexis Bridihin, a Russian blacksmith from Orel, came to Brisbane via the Russian Far East in 1911. He found employment at the Ipswich railway workshops. His wife Tatiana and their children joined him four months later.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Ipswich, he was allocated to the Australian Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company, where Alexis Kouvaldin was also serving. He served on the Western Front to the end of the war.
- After the war the Bridihin family with three young children moved to Wamuran, where they were engaged in growing fruit. Being among the first settlers, they had a local road named after them as Bridihin’s Road. Their youngest son Alexis was killed in a tragic accident when he was sixteen, while the elder son Boris served in the AIF during WWII in New Guinea.
- Abraham Bowson, a Jewish man from Lomza in Poland, came to Australia in 1907. By the time of his enlistment in the AIF he married to a woman named Jetta and was working as a dealer.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney, he served with the 3rd Battalion on the Western Front. In April 1918, at the battle for Hazebrouck, he was wounded in the foot and back, and was returned to Australia.
- After the war he worked as a baker and cook. During WWII he enlisted and served in a garrison battalion.
March 12, 2017
- Samuel Doposky was probably Jewish. He came from Warsaw in Poland and worked at a smelter in South Australia.
- He enlisted in the AIF in Adelaide, but deserted two days later.
- He stayed in Australia after the war, being listed among passengers travelling from Melbourne to Brisbane in 1928. Any other records about him have not been found so far.
Evert Aleksanter Kallio
- Evert Aleksanter Kallio, a Finnish seaman from Abo, came to Brisbane in January 1917 and enlisted in the AIF a few days later.
- He served with the 2nd Light Horse Regiment in Egypt.
- After the war he married an Australian girl, Mildred May, and lived with his family in Brisbane, working as a labourer. He got sick with TB and died in 1936, leaving seven young children.
- John Kataja, a Finnish seaman from Wasa, enlisted in the AIF together with Kallio.
- They served together with the 2nd Light Horse Regiment in Egypt.
- After the war he returned to Finland and served in the Karelian Guard Regiment there.
- William Nyland, a Finnish seaman from Abo, came to Newcastle in 1912 and worked as a mechanic in the mines.
- He enlisted in the AIF in West Maitland, but was discharged as medically unfit three months later.
- After the war he married an Australian girl, Ethel, and lived with his family in Newcastle, working as a miner. Their elder son and daughter served in the AIF during WWII.
March 10, 2017
- Isaac Lazarus, a Jewish man from ‘Nienstaught, Russia’ (most likely this was Taurage in Lithuania) came to Australia around 1890. First he took up peddling in South Australia, where he married Johanna Boon in 1894. Soon after that they moved to Ballarat and then to Bendigo, where he worked as a dealer. They had eight children and three of his sons born in Australia served in the AIF.
- Although he was in his forties, Isaac enlisted in the AIF and sailed with the 58th Battalion to England, from where he was returned to Australia because of old age.
- After the war he was engaged in poultry and pig farming and the family supplemented their income by keeping a boarding house.
- Christian Orgeson, a seaman from Estonia, had a Danish father and a Finnish mother. He came to Sydney in 1917 and worked as a sailmaker.
- Enlisting in the AIF, he served with the 35th Battalion on the Western Front. A month after his arrival, at the battle for Broodseinde near Ypres, he was wounded in the hand and returned to Australia.
- After the war he lived in Sydney working as motor mechanic, but in the 1920s he moved to America, continuing his occupation of a seaman.
Otto Harold Soderholm
- Otto Harold Soderholm, a Finnish seaman from Abo, came to Australia in 1914 and worked in Victoria as a farm labourer.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Warrnambool, he served with the 21st Battalion on the Western Front. In July 1918, being affected by a gas shell explosion, he left his unit and was court martialled, but the sentence was remitted and he was sent back to the trenches.
- After the war he married an Australian girl, Nellie Doreen Shepherdson, and lived with his family in Fish Creek and Alberton, Victoria, working at a cheese factory. During WWII he served in the garrison battalion.
John Konrad Erickson
- John Konrad Erickson, a Finnish seaman, enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in Trentham, New Zealand, and served in Gallipoli. Falling ill, he was returned to New Zealand and came to Australia.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Port Pirie, he sailed with the 10th Battalion to the Western Front, but became ill in England and was returned to Australia.
- After the discharge, in March 1918, he sailed to the USA, where he registered as a native of Sweden for Army service there. His trail disappears after that.
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