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Strom, Klemettila, Erickson, Rautlin

August 31, 2015

Oscar Strom

  • Oscar Strom, a Finnish seaman from Helsingfors (Helsinki) came to Australia in 1914.
  • When he enlisted in the AIF in Sydney, his name was misspelt and he was recorded as Srom; he also gave his place of birth as Piarnu, in Estonia. He served as a gunner in the 1st Division Ammunition Column on the Western Front. He got sick and was returned to Australia in mid-1917.
  • After the war he married an Australian girl, Sarah Jean Hincks, and had a family in Sydney, taking a variety of jobs from tram driver to orchadist. During WWII he enlisted in the AIF again.

August Klemettila

  • August Klemettila from Viipury (Vyborg) in Finland, came to South Australia in 1907 as a seaman and worked in Bowden.
  • He served with the 48th Battalion on the Western Front, being awarded with the Military Medal for his bravery at the Lihons advance in August 1918.
  • After the war he settled at Saddleworth, marrying an Australian woman, Mary Eveline Wilson. They had six young children by the time Klementilla died in 1943 and his sons would proudly wear his medal on Anzac Day.

Otto Erickson

  • Otto Erickson, another Finnish seaman, from Oravais near Vaasa, came to South Australia in 1904. After two years in Port Pirie he moved to Townsville, working as a waterside worker.
  • Enlisting in Townsville, he served with the 26th Battalion on the Western Front. In July 1916 he was wounded at Pozieres and in May 1917 at Bullecourt. On that second occasion he was wounded in the head, leg and hand and evacuated to England. He believed that he was awarded the Military Medal, but there is no record of this.
  • After the war he lived in Townsville, working as a waterside worker. In 1919 he married an Australian girl, Annie Josephina Bowen, who died four years later, leaving him with a newborn daughter.

Sulo Rautlin

  • Sulo Rautlin, one more Finnish seaman, from Tammerfors, came to Australia on the eve of the war. He worked for the Sugar Refining Company in North Queensland and enlisted in the AIF in Townsville, on the same day as Erickson.
  • His service in the AIF was short; in November 1915 he deserted. Later on he explained that he had left the army because he could not understand English at that time.
  • After the war he worked as a cane cutter and a seaman in North Queensland and drowned tragically in Cairns.

Talus, Silverman, Martinson, Motorin, Odliff

August 22, 2015

John Hendrick Talus

  • John Hendrick Talus from Uleaborg (Oulu) in Finland came to Western Australia in 1905 as a seaman and worked as a farmer.
  • He served as a gunner of the 24th Howitzer Brigade on the Western Front.
  • After the war he married an Australian girl, Lizzie Ethel Hodge, and was farming at Hayville Farm, Yarloop. Later they moved to Fremantle where John worked as a caretaker.

Abraham Silverman

  • Abraham Silverman, a Jewish man from Radom in Poland, came to Australia in 1914 and worked as a tailor, living in Sydney with his wife.
  • With the 20th Battalion he served on the Western Front. In August 1916 he was wounded in the right leg at Pozieres and a year later, after recovery, returned to the trenches. In October 1917 he was killed at Passchendaele.

August Martinson

  • August Martinson, an Estonian from Piarnu, spent four years in England and came to Australia in 1913, probably as a seaman. He worked as a labourer in Geelong and then moved to Roma in Queensland.
  • He served on the Western Front with the 15th Battalion and the Anzac Salvage Corps.
  • After the war he worked in Canungra district in Queensland; after marrying an Australian girl, Maud Harris Bigger, they settled in Brisbane.

Nicholas Ivanovich Motorin

  • Nicholas Ivanovich Motorin, born in Belyi near Smolensk in Russia, came to Australia as a seaman and enlisted in the AIF upon being discharged from the ship.
  • He served on the Western Front with the 2nd Pioneer Battalion. In November 1916 he was wounded at the battle for Somme. Recovering in England he was discharged from the AIF and temporarily employed by the Russian Embassy there. His AIF file has correspondence between Constantine Nabokov, the uncle of the future writer Vladimir Nabokov, who worked in the Russian embassy in London, and AIF Commander William Birwood in connection with his discharge.
  • After the war he stayed in London, marrying an English girl, Bridie Hogan.

Ivan Odliff

  • Ivan Odliff from Nizhny Novgorod worked in Australia as a boiler maker.
  • He first enlisted in the AIF in February 1915 in Sydney, but was discharged as ‘unlikely to become an efficient soldier’. He reenlisted in August 1915 in Newcastle and served on the Western Front with the 3rd Battalion. In July 1916 he was wounded in the shoulder at the battle for Pozieres, recovered and served to the end of war with numerous AWLs. In 1919 he enlisted in the British Army and served in the North Russian Relief Force.
  • Returning to Australia in 1920, he worked in rural NSW and tragically died in 1926 in Gunnedah of strychnine poisoning.

Borisoff, Peterson, Mineeff, Pesmany, Johnson

August 19, 2015

Michael Teodoroff Borisoff

  • Michael Teodoroff Borisoff, a Karelian from a village north of St Petersburg, came to Australia in 1911, probably as a seaman, and worked as a labourer in Western Australia.
  • He served on the Western Front with the 51st Battalion. In August 1916 he was severely wounded at Mouquet Farm in his leg, hand, and shoulder. After spending months in hospitals, he returned to Australia. He reenlisted for home service there, but was discharged as medically unfit.
  • In the early 1920s he set off to Russia to see his family, but was arrested while travelling in Siberia. He survived the ordeal and returned to Australia in 1923, but in the early 1930s he moved to New Zealand and from there travelled to London, probably with the aim of visiting Russia. In 1936 he returned to New Zealand and died in a tragic accident while building Pukerua Road north of Wellington.

Mat Hendrick Peterson

  • Mat Hendrick Peterson, born in Wassa, Finland, came to Western Australia in 1912 and worked as as timber worker in the Yarloop area.
  • He served with the 51st Battalion on the Western Front and was killed in July 1916.
  • His mother was found after the war in Finland and received an Australian pension.

John Mineeff

  • John Mineeff, born in Perm, in the Ural Mountains, came to Brisbane in 1910 via the Russian Far East. He worked on the railway construction near Blackbutt and then moved to the Ipswich railway works where he could find application for his profession of iron moulder.
  • Enlisting in the AIF, he served in the 3rd Artillery Brigade as a gunner and a driver and was returned to Australia in 1918, suffering from shell shock.
  • After the war he settled in Sydney, married an Australian girl, Annie Emily Rowbotham, and had a large family. His son Alexis was killed near Amiens while serving in the RAAF in 1944.

Thomas Pesmany

  • Thomas Pesmany was born in Glukhov in Chernigov Province in Ukraine. He came to Brisbane in 1911 from the Russian Far East and worked as a labourer and cook.
  • He served on the Western Front in the Field Ambulance.
  • After the war he moved to the USA.

Martin Johnson

  • Martin Johnson, an Estonian seaman from Revel (Tallinn) came to Australia in 1907 and was sailing on local vessels.
  • He served with the 53rd Battalion on the Western Front, attaining the rank of Lance Corporal. He was wounded in the neck at the battle for Perrone in September 1918 and evacuated to Australia.
  • After the war he continued his work as a seaman.

Six more Russians from Rockhampton

August 16, 2015
  • Four months after the first group of Russians enlisted in the AIF in Rockhampton, another six followed them. George Malisheff, who later stated that his true name was Petr Checkman, was from Yampolsk in Podolia in Ukraine; he, most likely, was a Ukrainian. All the rest were Russian: Akim Petroff was from Novozybkov in Chernigov Province, Alexander Tarasenkoff and John Tuagarin came from Orel Province, Nicholas Sholmatoff was from Moscow, while Tehon Yannin came from Samara on the Volga River. They were all aged between 26 and 31 years. Four of them had Russian Army experience: Malisheff, the eldest, served in the army for five years, Yannin served for three years, as did Tarasenkoff, who deserted the army at the end of his service. Sholmatoff probably deserted from the army after eighteenth months of service. Sholmatoff and Tarasenkoff came to Brisbane together from the Russian Far East in June 1912; Petroff followed them a month later. There is no data about the arrival of the other three, but it is likely that they came via the Russian Far East as well.
  • In Australia they followed the routes usual for Russian immigrants of the time. Tarasenkoff, for instance, worked for 2 months in Gympie in Queensland, then moved to the mines in Broken Hill; 7 months later he migrated to the cane-cutting area of Queensland, working in Bundaberg, Mount Chalmers, Emerald and Ruby Valley. By the time of enlistment he worked in mines in Mount Morgan. Petroff worked in Port Pirie smelters for 6 months, then moved to North Queensland and was mining in Mount Morgan.
  • When enlisting in Rockhampton they were all recorded as miners from Mount Morgan. They all were allocated to the 6th reinforcements of the 25th Battalion and in October 1915 sailed to the front on Seang Bee. This troopship carried eight more natives of Russia from the 25th and 9th Battalions. During training in Egypt they were all transferred to the 9th Battalion. All of the Rockhampton Russians, except for Tuagarin who got sick, reached the Western Front in April 1916. Petroff and Sholmatoff were severely wounded at Armentières just a few days after their arrival at the front: Petroff was wounded in the knee and hands, was evacuated to England and had his right leg amputated, while Sholmatoff was wounded in the neck, shoulder and elbow. They were both invalided to Australia. Malisheff suffered shell-shock at Pozières in July 1916; he recovered but was killed in April 1918, at Hazebrouck. In August 1916 Yannin was killed at the battle for Mouquet Farm; a few days earlier Tarasenkoff was severely wounded in the left leg and left arm. Tarasenkoff recovered eventually, rejoining his unit a year later and was gassed at Hill 60 Hollebeke in March 1918; he survived this ordeal too and stayed at the front until the end of the war, the only one of the six. Finally, Tuagarin, who joined his unit in July 1916, had to defend his Russian honour when he was court-martialled in October 1916; he was killed in action in December 1916 on the Somme.
  • The three of the six who survived the war – Petroff, Sholmatoff, and Tarasenkoff – returned to Australia. Sholmatoff changed his name to Nicholas Nicholls, married an Australian girl, Ethel French, in 1918, and raised a large family, working in Brisbane as a ‘smallgoodsman’. Petroff, who had left behind in Novozybkov his wife Tatiana and son Gavrila, unable to return back, also married an Australian, Gertrude Anna Levien. They married in 1919 in Mount Morgan, where Petroff worked after the war, but the marriage did not last and in 1920 Petroff moved to Brisbane, working as a bootmaker. His star hour came in 1923 when he won a prize of 875 pounds. Tarasenkoff settled in Brisbane working as a grocer. He never married.

Schilling, Metser, Leven, Orloff

August 14, 2015

Fritz Schilling

  • Fritz Schilling was born in Vindava (Ventspils) in Latvia. He worked in Western Australia as a faller.
  • He served on the Western Front with the 51st Battalion. In July 1916 he was wounded in the right elbow and returned to Australia.
  • After the war he lived in outback Western Australia, continuing his occupation as a timber worker.

Peter Metser

  • Peter Metser was born on Saaremaa Island in Estonia. Working as an engineer on a ship, he came to Hobart in July 1915 and enlisted in the AIF three weeks later.
  • He served on the Western Front with the 13th Field Company Engineers as a sapper.
  • After the war he aspired to become a consul for Russia but when the plan did not eventuate, he moved to Sydney, where he worked as engineer.

Harry Leven

  • Harry Leven was born, most likely, in Kishenev in Moldova. He moved to Western Australia working as a farm labourer and gardener.
  • He served on the Western Front as a gunner in Howitzer Battery, but soon got sick with trachoma, which affected his vision. He was repatriated to Australia as medically unfit.
  • After this, he disappears from Australian records, probably because his name may have been misspelt on the enlistment form.

Nicholas d’Orloff

  • Nicholas d’Orloff was from Riga in Latvia, claimed to be a Count and could speak German, French, Russian and English. Australian police had a list of his aliases and according to their records he was a criminal, convicted for the first time in Adelaide in 1904.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Brisbane, he was discharged a few weeks later because of absence without leave. A few days later he was detained at Maryborough for wearing military uniform and was tried by a police magistrate. On suspiction of pro-German sympathies he was jailed and later transferred to a concentration camp for Germans at Liverpool and finally, in 1919, deported from the country

Sharoff, Fass, Wolfson, Dumps

August 13, 2015

Nicholas Sharoff

  • Nicholas Sharoff claimed to be born in Vladivostok, but, considering that his brother lived in the Cheliabinsk area, it is more likely that he was born there too. He came to Australia probably as a fireman and, by the time of enlistment in the AIF, worked in Port Douglas in Northern Queensland.
  • His first enlistment, in May 1915, was not successful; he was discharged for medical reasons, although it was noted on his application that he was ‘very anxious to serve at the front’. He moved to Sydney and enlisted again, this time as a native of Port Douglas. With the 18th Battalion he sailed to Gallipoli, where he landed in November 1915. In March 1916 he was on the Western Front, where he was noted for taking part in a raid on enemy trenches in June 1916. A month later he was killed at the battle for Pozieres.
  • His family in Cheliabinsk was never found.

Charles Fass

  • Charles Fass was born in Kazan and was, probably, of German origin. He was an engine driver by trade. He came to Australia in 1914 from Port Said and worked in Byron Bay and Melbourne before enlisting in the AIF.
  • He served on the Western Front with the 8th Field Ambulance, being invalided in 1917 to Australia as medically unfit.
  • After the war he farmed in Mount Egerton in Victoria.

Heyman Wolfson

  • Heyman Wolfson, a Jewish man from Seda in Lithuania, was 14 when he moved to Ireland, where he worked as drapery commercial traveller. Twenty years later, in 1910, he came to Australia. He stayed in Melbourne and Brisbane before he settled in Adelaide, working as a labourer.
  • He served with the 32nd Battalion in the AIF; in July 1916 he was severely wounded at the battle for Sugarloaf, but, recovering, returned to the trenches and served to the end of the war.
  • After the war he moved to Western Australia and worked as a commercial traveller and labourer.

Charles Rudolf Dumps

  • Charles Rudolf Dumps, a Latvian from Saloz, came to Western Australia in 1909 working in the rural areas as a farm labourer, marrying an Australian woman, Mary Ellen Longstroth.
  • He served with the 1st Pioneer Battalion on the Western Front as a driver.
  • After the war he farmed in Serpentine in Western Australia. His son, Cyril Charles Dumps, served in the AIF in WWII.

Sandberg, Wiliamson, Putre, Honig, Potter

August 10, 2015

Uno Videkind Sandberg

  • Uno Videkind Sandberg, a ship mate born in Finland, came to Australia in 1912.
  • He enlisted in the AIF in Sydney and married an Australian girl, Ivy Mercy White, before sailing to the front. He served on the Western Front with the 1st Field Ambulance until he became sick with trench foot himself and returned to Australia accompanying a troop ship as a nurse.
  • After the war he worked as a storeman living in Sydney. In 1923 he was working as an upholsterer in Grafton. He suffered from insomnia and trench foot and died taking poison when working away from home.

Aoe Wiliamson

  • Aoe Wiliamson, a seaman from Piarnu in Estonia, came to Australia in 1915 from South Africa and enlisted in the AIF on the same day.
  • He served with the 6th Battalion on the Western Front, first as a driver and then as a gunner in the artillery detachment. In February and March 1917 he twice experienced shell shock, but returned to the trenches.
  • After the war he lived in outback New South Wales and Queensland, working as a farmer and a drover.

Andrew Putre

  • Andrew Putre, another seaman from Liepaja in Latvia, came to Australia in 1911 in the footsteps of his elder brother John. He lived in South Australia working on the coastal ships and as a coal lumper.
  • He served in the 1st Pioneer Battalion on the Western Front, where he experienced severe shell shock in June 1916, becoming partly deaf. In September 1918, during the assault on the Hindenburg Outpost Line, he was wounded in the thigh and repatriated to Australia.
  • After the the war he married an Australian girl, Nora Gertrude, and lived in York, South Australia, working as a panel worker. During WWII he enlisted in the AIF, but was discharged as medically unfit. His son Robert Andrew Putre served in the RAN after the WWII as an officer.

Max Honig

  • Max Honig, a Jewish man from Slutsk in Belarus, moved with his family to Palestine and Egypt. Arriving in Western Australia in 1911 he worked as a draper in Kalgoorlie; at the same time he also worked as a teacher of Hebrew.
  • He enlisted in the AIF in Perth and, while in the training camp, fell ill and ended up in hospital, where he was described by a doctor as ‘intelligent and introspective’. He held the exams to become a non-commisioned officer, but failed and was discharged from the army in January 1916 as medically unfit.
  • After the war he disappeared from the records, probably returning to Palestine.

Peter John Potter

  • Peter John Potter came from a farmer family near Saratov, being, probably, a German colonist there. He arrived at Brisbane in 1911 from the Russian Far East and worked in Brisbane as a painter.
  • He served with artillery unit on the Western Front as a gunner.
  • While in England he married an English girl, Victoria Winifred Streeten, and sailed to Australia with his wife and two children in 1920. He worked as a painter in Brisbane and Sydney; his two sons enlisted in the AIF during WWII and the eldest, John Victor William Potter, was killed in Libya in 1941.

Kortman, Croker, Minkshlin, Rowehl, Turkulain

August 6, 2015

Ernest Hyalmar Kortman

  • Ernest Hyalmar Kortman was born in Helsingfors (Helsinki) and came to Australia in 1909, probably as a seaman. He lived in Port Pirie, Yorktown and Edithburgh in South Australia.
  • He served on the Western Front in the 15th and 25th Artillery brigades and was killed in August 1917 in Belgium.
  • His family was found after the war.

Edward Croker

  • Edward Croker, a Jewish man from Goldingen (Kuldiga) in Latvia, was born as Crakowsky. He came to Western Australia in 1909 and worked as a fruitirer and commercial traveller.
  • Enlisting in the AIF, he did not serve long and was discharged at his own request.
  • After the war he married Rose Dryen and lived in Melbourne.

Anthony Minkshlin

  • Anthony Minkshlin was born in Libava (Liepaja) in Latvia and came to Australia as a seaman.
  • He served in the Light Horse regiment on the Western Front as a trooper. After the Armistice he joined the British Army and was sent to Russia with the Russian Relief Force, for which he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
  • After the war he returned to Latvia, but in 1923 sailed back to Australia.

Edwin Nicholas Rowehl

  • Edwin Nicholas Rowehl was born in Libava too, and came to Australia in 1915 as a sailor on the ship Gunda, which he deserted with three other men from the Russian Empire. One of them was his brother, who enlisted a few months later.
  • While serving in the AIF as a sapper, he trained with the wireless signal company.
  • After the war he worked as a stevedore in Port Melbourne. In 1946 he placed an advertisement in the newspaper commemorating the passing of his comrade Fred Keal.

Bernard Turkulain

  • Bernard Turkulain, a Finnish seaman from Vyborg, came to South Australia in 1910 on the Russian ship Sopernik. He worked as a butcher’s labourer in Adelaide, married an Australian girl, Alice Mary, and had a daughter.
  • He served with the 27th Battalion on the Western Front and in 1917 was returned to Australia as medically unfit.
  • After the war he lived in Adelaide.

Kirvalidze, Puris, Mathewy

August 1, 2015

Paul Ippolit Kirvalidze

  • Paul Ippolit Kirvalidze was born in the Kutaisi area in Georgia and came to Australia via the Russian Far East in 1913. Later he would tell his neighbours that he escaped from a prison there. In Australia hesettled in Gordon, north of Sydney, working as a grocer. He actively participated in Russian political organisations in Australia.
  • Enlisting in the AIF, he served with the 2nd Battalion on the Western Front, where he was wounded in July 1916. Recovering, he returned to the trenches, attaining the rank of sergeant.
  • After the Armistice, he joined the British Army and was sent to Russia with the British Military Mission. Later he worked for the American Relief Mission, helping famine stricken districts of Russia. In 1923 he was arrested by Soviet security forces and sentenced to death as a British spy, but luckily, with the help of British authorities he was released and returned to Australia in 1925. He lived in Mackay and Mount Isa, working as a wharf labourer and tobacco grower. Later he married a Russian woman, Nadia Priadko, settled in Brisbane, and became the owner of the Paddington Hotel.

Anthony Puris

  • Anthony Puris, a Lithuanian from the village Padustis in Kovno Province, served on the ships as a fireman. The earliest records about his voyages in Australian waters relate to November 1914. By the time of enlistment he lived in Newcastle and gave his occupation as a miner.
  • He came to the Western Front with the 4th Battalion and was wounded in the left knee at Mouquet Farm in August 1916. Recovering, he returned to the front and was killed at the Battle for Bullecourt in May 1917.
  • His family in Lithuania was found after the war.

Charles Mathewy

  • Charles Mathewy from Libau (Liepaja) in Latvia, by the time of enlistment, lived in Western Australia, working as a labourer.
  • He came to the Western Front with the reinforcements to the 16th Battalion and was killed in September 1916 in Belgium.
  • His relatives in Latvia were found after the war.