Wadim Baidakoff, a Russian from Tiflis (Tbilisi) in Georgia, came to Western Australia on a Russian steamship in 1908. He worked as a sleeper hewer on the railway construction in south-east area of the state.
He fought at Gallipoli with the 11th Battalion and later served in Egypt as a tugboat master with inland water transport.
After the war he moved to Sydney and worked as a nightwatchman and special constable at Milson’s Point, later becoming a fish shop proprietor in the area.
Phillipp Gorbach, a sailor from Odessa, came to Australia soon after the outbreak of the war.
Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney, he sailed to Egypt with the 4th Battalion in March 1915, returning a few months later as an escort on a troopship. While in training camp in Liverpool, he joined a soldiers’ protest of the poor conditions at the camp, which turned into riots when thousands of soldiers broke out of the camp and invaded Sydney, drinking the bars dry and rampaging through the Sydney streets. Gorbach, like many others, was court martialled, sentenced to 90 days of hard labour and discharged with ignominy.
He stayed in Sydney for a while, working on coastal vessels and in December 1916 came to San Francisco where he applied for naturalisation and even registered for Army service. By 1930 he lived in New York, running a tin shop.
Nicholas Fedorovich from Odessa, a journalist working for newspapers in the Russian Far East, came to Queensland from the Russian Far East in 1911, becoming a cane cutter.
He sailed to Gallipoli with a group of Russians in the 9th Battalion. Contracting enteric fever there, he received leave and went to Russia to visit his mother, but was held up by the Russian authorities. Only several months later he managed to return to London and rejoin the AIF, serving in the HQ in London as an interpreter. He published a short story, ‘Kismet’, about a wartime romance.
Returning to Australia, he took up a soldier selection at Stanthorpe and later married a Russian woman.
Oscar Norton Gambrill came from a family of a British merchant who lived in St Petersburg for many years. His father died when he was 12. In 1914 Oscar came to Australia and tried himself as a station hand in Longreach, in outback Queensland.
With the Light Horse Regiment he served in Gallipoli; he continued his service on the Western Front with the Division Ammunition Column as a driver, but was later transferred to his Division HQ.
After the war he took a commercial course in Clark’s college in London and was discharged in England, planning to work for a company in Southern Russia. Later he worked as a trader in Egypt, ending up a company director. He died in Egypt and was buried in Cairo.
Edward Lakovsky was born in Iuzovo (now Eastern Ukraine), later his family moved to Odessa and in the early 1900s, in the wake of Russian pogroms, sailed to Western Australia. Initially they lived in Kalgoorlie and Broken Hill.
Enlisting in the AIF in South Australia, Edward sailed with the 10th Battalion to Egypt. He did not reach Gallipoli, being returned to Australia as medically unfit.
He married soon after his return and raised a large family in Melbourne, working as a boot repairer.
Alexander Popow, born in Glukhov, Ukraine, came from the family of Russian Army General Aleksandr N. Popov. Alexander studied electrical engineering at the University of Liège, Belgium, and worked for the Russian government.
Enlisting in the AIF, he served with the 2nd Field Company Engineers at Gallipoli, where he was wounded a few weeks after landing in June 1915. In November 1916, in the battle for the Somme on the Western Front, he survived multiple shell-wounds only to develop gas gangrene, and spent nearly six months in English hospitals, undergoing three operations, which left him with 63 scars on his left leg alone.
Luckily he recovered, came to the USA in 1919, settled near Boston working in metallurgy research. Here he changed his name to Peter Popow Alexander.
Lamotte Alexis Sage from Odessa probably had French ancestry, as his father’s name was Louis and sister’s was Dolora. Nevertheless, Lamotte’s religion was recorded as ‘Slav’, which must have meant Russian Orthodox; he claimed a three-year service in a ‘Cossack Regiment’, while his sister lived in Archangelsk – all this suggests long-lasting connections with the Russian Empire. Landing in Albany in 1898, in Western Australia, he found employment in the south-western areas of the colony, working as a timber cutter, sleeper carter and hewer on the construction of the railway lines.
Although he was in his forties, he enlisted in the AIF and soldiered through the whole war in the artillery regiments as a gunner and a driver.
While in a British hospital he met English girl Rosa Hales and they married before Sage was sent to the Western Front. In 1919 they returned to Australia with a young daughter. They lived in Western Australia, where Sage took up farming.
Nicolas Korotcoff, a Russian from Samara, spent two years in Manchuria deserting from the Russian Army. In 1912 he landed in Cairns and worked as cane cutter in Port Douglas in North Queensland.
Enlisting in the AIF in Cairns he joined a group of Russians in the 5th reinforcements of the 9th Battalion. In June 1915 they landed at Gallipoli. In 1916 Korotcoff was transferred to the 11th Field Artillery Brigade, serving as a driver on the Western Front. He was wounded at the battle for Passchendaele in October 1917. When, after the Russian revolution of 1917 Russia withdrew from the war, a group of Russians which included Korotcoff applied for discharge and were returned to Australia ‘on account of Russian nationality’.
Korotcoff returned to Northern Queensland working as a cane cutter and night watchman. During WWII he enlisted in the AIF again, serving in the Volunteer Defence Corps.
Yan Soolcovsky, born in Mlava, Poland, came to Townsville from the Russian Far East in 1914. Later he lived in Gympie, working as a butcher.
He enlisted in the AIF with the Russian Romanovsky and sailed to the front with a group of Russians in the 9th Battalion’s 5th reinforcements. He served at Gallipoli and on the Western Front where he was wounded at Mouquet Farm in 1916 and at Polygon Wood in 1917. As a result of the second casualty, his left hand was amputated.
In 1920 his health failed and he died in Brisbane with his fiancée at his side.
Nicholas Romanovsky was born in Achinsk in Siberia and worked on the railway as a construction engineer and probably came to Australia from the Far East.
He enlisted in the AIF together with Soolkovsky and fought at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. He was wounded together with his mate at Mouquet Farm and at Polygon Wood. Two days after the last casualty he died of his wounds.
Rudolph Mahlit, a Latvian teacher, organised the first social-democratic circles in Latvia. Exiled to Siberia, he fled to Japan and came to Western Australia in 1912. He worked in the Collie area as a timber hewer and foreman and was loved by all in the district.
Enlisting in the AIF, he participated in the Gallipoli landing with the 16th Battalion. On 2 May 1915 he was wounded at the battle for Bloody Angle, at Quinn’s Post. He rejoined his unit after recovery, only to die not long after, during the attack on Hill 60 on 27 August.
Sidney Herbert Parsons was born in St Petersburg in 1870, where his British parents lived for many years. In 1886 all their family emigrated to Sydney, where young Sidney worked as a saddler. By the time of the war he was married and had a daughter.
He served in the 2nd Battalion as Corporal and Sergeant at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. He was wounded three times: during August battles at Gallipoli in 1915, and at Pozieres in 1916 and at Bullecourt in 1917 on the Western Front.
After the war he worked as a tram driver in Sydney.
Francis Deramer came from a cultured noble family in Poland; he served in the Russian Army as an officer and received education as a construction engineer in St Petersburg. In 1913 he came to Brisbane from the Russian Far East.
He served with the 9th Queensland Battalion at Gallipoli as a Corporal. Getting sick there, he was taken to hospital in England and discharged in 1916, taking up an employment at the Russian Government Committee in London. After the Russian revolution of 1917, he joined the British Army Royal Engineers and served in Siberia, being awarded a Meritorious Service Medal for his service.
In 1923, marrying an English girl, he came to Queensland with his young family, but a few years later returned to England.
During WWII he served in the British RAF as Flight Lieutenant.
Michael Baranoff was born in Morshansk in Central Russia, and acquired the trade of engine fitter and driver in the Government Locomotive Works there. He came to Queensland from the Russian Far East in 1911.
He enlisted in the AIF twice, in Brisbane in 1915 and in Cloncurry in 1916, but was discharged both times as medically unfit.
James William Barr, a British man, was born in Riga, Latvia. Coming to Sydney, he worked as a clerk and accountant. He enlisted in the AIF on 8 January 1915 and three weeks later married an Australian girl, Elsie Ward. Their first daughter was born while he was serving overseas.
Barr served in Gallipoli and then, as a corporal and sergeant, on the Western Front. He was gassed at Hill 60 Hollebeke in Belgium in February 1918 and repatriated to Australia.
He died in 1923 in the Military Hospital in Sydney, leaving his wife and young child.
Edward Abelscaln, a Latvian seaman, enlisted in Melbourne and served at Gallipoli with 13th Light Horse Regiment. He obviously was fluent in English, as, while in Egypt he took a course at the School of Instruction and, when at the Western Front, was transferred to the Australian Provost Corps and appointed Lance Sergeant.
He was awarded with the Military Medal for his bravery and initiative during the battle for Passchendaele in October 1917, organising traffic under heavy shelling on the Bellewaarde Plank Road where it had been blocked by a shell crater. His commander in the recommendation for award noted his ‘energy, coolness, and example’.
Abelscaln was discharged in London, planning to return to independent Latvia to care for his father.
The story of Latvian Henry Adjutant’s settlement in Australia began dramatically. In 1906 he arrived in Australia on the barque ‘Thistle Bank’, the seamen of which complained that on the voyage to Australia they were half-starving. Adjutant deserted from the barque with his mate John Paulin, an Austrian. Several months later, when they were working near Ensay in the Snowy Mountains, they had a heated argument and Adjutant stabbed Paulin with a knife. He was sentenced to nine months imprisonment. In the following years he worked as a labourer in Gippsland.
He landed at Gallipoli with the 14th Battalion in May 1915. Being wounded there in June, he was evacuated to Australia. While in Melbourne he married an Australian girl, but soon resumed his army service, performing nursing duties on the troop ships travelling between Egypt and Australia.