Woldemar Larin, a Russian born in Verny (now Almaty, Kazakhstan), took part in the Russo-Japanese War and came to Australia in 1905 as a political refugee. He lived in the remote areas of north-western Australia, working as a prospector and miner, later moving to Fremantle. When he applied for naturalisation, the intelligence officer suspected him of being an anarchist.
In January 1918 Larin enlisted in the AIF in Fremantle in the Medical Corps as a pharmacist, but was discharged soon afterwards due to poor vision.
After the war he settled in Fremantle, working as a lumper, and when he got older, as a watch repairer. He was known by the nickname ‘Russia’ and often got into trouble with the local police for minor offences.