John Kristianson Westerberg
AWM memorial panel 174
John Kristianson Westerberg
Courtesy of Marina Wallin
Place village Rickul, Nucko (Noarootsi), Haapsalu, Estonia
Ethnic origin Estonian/Swede
Religion Church of England
Father Kristian Westerberg (1855-1906), gamekeeper
Mother Mare Stenberg (1859-1936)
Arrived at Australia
on ca 1912
Residence before enlistment Tirroan, Mount Perry Line, Gin Gin, Qld
Occupation Seaman & foreman carpenter
Service service number 2962
unit 4th Pioneer Battalion
place Western Front, 1917-1918
final fate KIA 11.02.1918
cemetery 112 Hooge Crater Cemetery Zillebeke, Belgium
Naturalisation Served as naturalised British subject
From Marina Wallin's letters:
I'm a niece of John/Johannes Westerberg, born in Estonia 1891 and killed in Belgium 1918. I've read your book with great interest and now understand how and why a young sailor, who recently emigrated to Australia, could join the army of his new country. Johns mother and siblings never got to find out where he died. Long it has been believed that he died in Turkey. It's wonderful to finally have found out what happened to him.
My uncle John/Johannes Westerberg was born 3 of February in 1891. His father - Gamekeeper Kristian Westerberg (1855-1906). His mother - Mare Stenberg (1859-1936). My mother Maria (1900-1990) was the youngest of eight siblings. They were all born in Rickul(village) in Nucko (today Noarootsi) about 45 km from the town Hapsaluu in Estonia. All these Estonian-Swedes had Swedish names because they belonged to a minority-group of Swedes living in the north-west of Estonia since the 13th century. Most of these Estonian-Swedes were fishermen and peasants. The community had Swedish schools and priests, all of them were speaking and writing in Swedish. That may explanin why Johannes letters never made it through the military censorship. I´ve read in your book that all letters not in English were censored.
Johannes was a seaman and a carpenter. In January 1912 he sent a post-card to his sister Maria (my mother) from Hamburg. And there is a photo of him from Barry Dock, England, so presumably that was the habour from which he sailed to Australia. I guess that he arrived in Australia in 1912. There is another photo of him together with his older brother Alexander (born 1884) taken in Perth. I don´t know exact when Johannes arrived in Queensland. We have a letter dated 1916 from my grandmother Mare to my mother where she writes "Have heard from Johannes, he is in Australia and is engaged to a Norwegian girl".
Initially it was information on the older brother Alexander we´ve been in search of for about two years without any luck. He came to Australia in 1906 and worked as a miner and woodcutter in WA (around Boulder). I´ve learned that from copies of Aliens Registration 1916-1921. The last contact my mother had with her brother Alexander was in 1920. After that we don´t know what happened to him.