July 28, 2015
John Elias Anderson
- John Elias Anderson was a carpenter from Abo (Turku) in Finland.
- He enlisted in the AIF in Sydney, but was discharged for ‘disorderly conduct’.
- He disappears from Australian records after that.
- Onnie Backman from ‘Yarkup’ in Finland was farming in Bunbury in Western Australia before the war.
- He came to the Western Front with the 28th Battalion and was killed during the battle at Pozieres in July 1916.
- All attempts to find the non-existant ‘Yarkup’, and Backman’s relatives in Finland, were unsuccessful.
Waldemar Franz von Kroeber
- Waldemar Franz von Kroeber was born in a Russianised German family in St Petersburg. He came to Western Australia as a sailor in 1909 and worked on Bunbury jetty as a lumper.
- He served with the 16th battalion on the Western Front. In August 1916 he was gassed and suffered shell shock at Mouquet Farm, but recovered and returned to the trenches. He fought to the end of the war, being several times in hospital with different diseases.
- After the war he lived in Fremantle working as a labourer. In 1933 he married an Australian, Eva May Cook. In 1925 he joined the Communist Party of Australia, but although he later left it, he and his family were under observation of the Australian security forces.
- Victor Ahl, a Finn from Borga (Porvoo) came to Australia in 1889. He lived in New South Wales and Queensland, working in Kingaroy in Queensland by the time of his enlistment in the AIF.
- In spite of his age (he was 45 years old in 1915), he was accepted into the AIF and sailed to the front with the 31st Battalion. However in Egypt he became sick, was returned to Australia and discharged.
- After the war he lived in Queensland, occasionally getting into trouble with police for his drinking problems. In 1924 he succumbed to sickness and died in Roma Hospital.
Vaino Armos Balhorn
July 21, 2015
- Vaino Armos Balhorn was born in Finland and, emigrating to Australia, lived in Sydney and Muswellbrook, New South Wales, working on the railway.
- Enlisting in the AIF, he served on the Western Front in artillery detachments as a gunner. In January 1917 he remained ‘in telephone dugout to maintain communication whilst their battery was being shelled, after the detachment has been ordered to a flank owing to no cover being available’, as wrote his commander. The dugout was blown up by a direct hit, killing Balhorn’s comrade, while Balhorn sustained a fracture of the base of the skull. He was saved by the gunner Kelly, who dug him out. While Balhorn was in hospital in England came the announcement that he was mentioned in despatches ‘for devotion to duty by remaining’ on his post ‘under heavy fire’.
- Repatriated to Australia as medically unfit, Balhorn married an Australian girl, Gladys Louisa Smith, had a family, and worked in the Naval Store department on Garden Island in Sydney. Both his sons served in the Army during the WWII and he himself was awarded the Imperial Service Medal in 1954 ‘for marked devotion in his 35 years service with his department’.
- Boris Soans, an Estonian seaman from Revel (Tallinn), in 1906 graduated from the Nautical school there and toiled the sea. Before the war he lived in Port Adelaide in South Australia.
- He arrived with the 32nd Battalion at the Western Front in June 1916. A month later he was killed at the Sugarloaf Battle.
- His father was found after the war and received his medals.
Carl Edgar Collath
- Carl Edgar Collath from Talsen in Latvia came to Sydney in 1908, and worked there as a labourer and a painter.
- He served with the 54th Battalion on the Western Front suffering from a number of ailments and shell shock.
- After the war he married Alice Mary Penman, the girlfriend of his mate killed in action. He was probably Edgar Joseph Goodwin, in whose memory they would place an advertisement in the newspaper on the date of his death. The Collaths had a family in Sydney where Carl worked as a railway employee, occasionally suffering from memory loss caused by shell shock at Paschendale. Their son Lawrence Edgar served in the 2nd AIF in WWII.
Dr Michael Klatchko
- Dr Michael Klatchko, born in St Petersburg, came from a cultural Russian Jewish family. He was a dental surgeon and a specialist in plastic surgery of jaws and face.
- At the outbreak of the war he was stranded in Egypt and attached to the AIF working in Australian hospitals there. In September 1916 he accompanied wounded soldiers being repatriated on the Borda to Australia; upon arrival he was employed by the Russian consulate in recruiting Russians across the country.
- His career ended quite unexpectedly and suddenly: in 1917 he secretly married and left for Vladivostok with a girl, Phyllis Olga Duckett, from an upper-class Melbourne family. They had a daughter, Masha, and finally settled in Shanghai. Sadly his wife committed suicide in 1936, and Michael and Masha endured the Japanese occupation of Shanghai.
Tobias Oscar Richard Wirta
July 15, 2015
- Tobias Oscar Richard Wirta from Abo in Finland worked as a labourer in Kalgoorlie before the war.
- He came to the Western Front with the 48th Battalion in June 1916 and was killed in September 1916 at the battle for Mouquet Farm.
- His mother in Finland was found after the war and received Australian pension.
- Nicholas Kotzebue came from the famous Baltic German family of Kotzebue from Estonia. He was born in Ekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains where his father worked in the goldmining industry. At four, after his father’s death, the family returned to Estonia. As a teenager Nicholas spent some time in Germany, served in the French legion and travelled as a seaman in Asia and America. He came to Western Australia at the turn of the nineteenth century and worked as a labourer and mechanic, moving later to Warrandyte in Victoria.
- Enlisting in the AIF, he served on the Western Front with the 2nd Field Company Engineers, and subsequently studied at the Anzac wireless school. Then he had a brief spell, from April to August 1917, with the 1st Anzac Intelligence Police. He returned to his unit and in early 1918 was invalided back to Australia with a chest penetrating gunshot wound received at Ypres in September 1917. He also suffered from mental disturbance, fearing that he would be ‘disclosed’ as a German.
- Luckily he recovered after the war and enriched Australia with a number of mechanical inventions.
- Marian Adamzewitch, a Belarussian from Minsk, worked as a ship’s fireman on coastal vessels in Australia.
- He enlisted in the AIF in Brisbane, but was discharged a month later as medically unfit.
- He moved to the USA, continuing his employment as a fireman and registered for Army service in Boston.
Paul Richard Eugene Napoleon Nicholas Falck
- Paul Richard Eugene Napoleon Nicholas Falck came from a well-off family in Helsingfors (Helsinki) in Finland, where he received a good education. He came to Australia in 1908 as a sailor.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Tasmania he served with a machine gun detachment on the Western Front with the rank of Lance Corporal. He was gassed twice and in September 1918 was killed by a shell in Bullecourt.
- His family in Finland was found after the war.
Albert Alfred Alexejew
- Albert Alfred Alexejew was born in Riga, where his father was working in the City theatre. He came to Melborne in 1911 and worked as a labourer.
- He served on the Western Front with the 57th Battalion. In 1917 he was wounded twice, in January and in May, at the Bullecourt battle. In the latter case he experienced nervous exhaustion from being buried, and shell shock.
- After the war he married Australian girl,Edith Martha Campey, and lived in Macedon Upper, north of Melbourne.
July 5, 2015
- Bernchard Wihtol from Riga lived in Stockingal, NSW, working as a bricklayer.
- He enlisted in the AIF in Sydney, but did not embark with his 1st Battalion and disappears from the records.
- Carl Kills was born, most likely, in Voskovtsy village in Volyn Province in Ukraine and was probably an Orthodox Ukrainian. He came to South Australia from South Africa in 1910 and worked in Port Pirie, later moving to Melbourne.
- Enlisiting in the AIF, he was discharged four months later with the formula ‘unlikely to become an efficient soldier’.
- After the war lived in Melbourne, where he married and worked as a carrier and later as a goods dealer.
Stanley John Siwczynski
- Stanley John Siwczynski was born in Tomaszów in Poland; he was a saddler by trade. Leaving Poland, he spent a year in Germany and then came to Brisbane in 1912.
- Enlisting in the AIF as John Stanislaw Siwezynski, he served on the Western Front in the 49th Battalion as a saddler; in 1917 he was appointed corporal. In January 1918 he was awarded the Belgian decoration Croix de Guerre. In September 1918 he was withdrawn from the battlefront and returned to Australia with a group of Russians ‘on account of Russian nationality’.
- After the war he spent three years in the USA, working at the motor vehicle factory in Michigan. He married there and in 1924 brought his wife and daughter to Australia. They lived in the Northern Territory and Sydney, but the marriage broke up and Stanley took the daughter with him to Queensland, where he had a hard time during the depression working as a motor mechanic and cane cutter.
Albert Benjamin Fredrickson
- Albert Benjamin Fredrickson from Finland came to Australia in the late nineteenth century and worked in Western Australia as a prospector.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Norseman, he served with the 32nd Battalion on the Western Front, attaining the rank of Lance-Corporal. In October 1917 he was wounded in the head in the battle for Passchendaele and invalided to Australia.
- In 1921 he died in the sanatorium of Wooroloo, in Western Australia.
Alfonso Eugen Edman
- Alfonso Eugen Edman, a Finnish seaman from Helsingfors (Helsinki), came to Australia in 1914.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney, he served with the 18th Battalion at Gallipoli and then on the Western Front. In June 1916 he took part in a raid on enemy trenches; a month later he was severely wounded at Pozieres, receiving wounds to his leg, head and right arm. After two months in hospitals he was returned to the trenches and killed in the Somme battle in December 1916.
- His mother received his awards after the war.
- Fradolf Mattson from Mariehamn in Finland came to Newcasltle in NSW as a seaman in 1913.
- He enlisted in the AIF in Sydney on the same day with his countryman Alfonso Edman and they sailed on the same ship, Runic, to the battlefront, but they served in different battalions. Mattson served with the 13th Battalion at Gallipoli and with the 45th Battalion on the Western Front, where in 1917 he was transferred to the machine gun company.
- Returning to Australia, he settled in the Newcastle area, working as a labourer, married an Australian girl, Esther Annie Smith, and had a family.