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Abelscaln, Adjutant, Lind

January 9, 2015

Edward Abelscaln

  • 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.

Henry Adjutant

  • 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.

Thomas Lind

  • Thomas Lind, a Finn from Vyborg, came to Australia in 1907. Working as a fisherman and a labourer he lived in Victoria, Tasmania, New Zealand, Queensland and New South Wales.
  • He enlisted in the AIF in Brisbane and, landing at Gallipoli with the 15th Battalion, was killed.
  • After his death it was established that his true name was Antti Kujala. His mother in Finland was found after the war and received his medals.

Benjamin, Pshevolodskey, Radetsky, Gretchinsky

December 27, 2014

David Benjamin

  • David Benjamin came from Warsaw in Poland; he was probably Jewish, although enlisting in the AIF he stated that his religion was ‘Russian Pole’. He served in the Russian Army and then lived for 4 years in Paris, working as a tailor. He came to Sydney in 1912 and naturalised before enlistment into the AIF.
  • He was accepted in the AIF as a driver in the Army Service Corps, but deserted two months later.
  • Due to his common surname it is difficult to trace his subsequent life.

Marian Pshevolodskey

  • Marian Pshevolodskey, a Pole from a village near Novograd-Volynsky in Ukraine, fought in the Russian Army in the Russo-Japanese War. He probably came to Queensland from the Russian Far East, and worked in Brisbane as a carpenter.
  • He was accepted for service in the AIF as an interpreter and sailed to Gallipoli with the 15th Queensland Battalion. On 9/10 May 1915, when his battalion was attacking the Turkish trenches facing Quinn’s Post, Pshevolodsky was killed.
  • His mother Paulina in Ukraine was never found.

Sebastian Radetsky

  • Sebastian Radetsky, a Ukrainian from the same Volyn Province as Pshevolodskey, served in the Russian Army as well and came to Brisbane in 1912 from Japan.
  • He enlisted in the AIF in South Australia and served in the 10th Battalion. He landed at Gallipoli in June 1915 and continued his service on the Western Front in 1916-1918, where he was wounded three times: in July 1916 at Pozieres, in May 1917 at Bullecourt, and in August 1918 during the advance on Amiens.
  • After the war he lived in New South Wales and died in Sydney in 1935.

James Theodor Gretchinsky

  • James Theodor Gretchinsky came from a surgeon’s family in the Ukrainian town of Gorodnia. He was well educated in Moscow and Odessa, gaining the profession of electrical engineer. He also fought in the Russo-Japanese War, attaining the rank of sub-lieutenant. He came to Brisbane from Vladivostok in 1913 and worked at Bingera plantation.
  • He enlisted in the AIF in Longreach and sailed for Egypt with the 9th Queensland Battalion. Soon after arrival to Egypt he got sick with varicose veins, had surgery and was returned to Australia, where he was finally discharged with chronic rheumatism.
  • He tried to get job in the army as a driver or in the censor’s office (he knew many languages), but all he could get were jobs of a greaser or a wiper on the ships. After several restless years, he finally settled in Sydney, working again as an electrical engineer.

Henningsen, Piukkula, Arreta, Berkis

December 20, 2014

Hans Peter Henningsen

  • Hans Peter Henningsen came to Australia with his family as a boy in 1900. They farmed in the Woombye area in Queensland. Hans and his family were Danish, but enlisting in the AIF, he stated that he was born in Russia.
  • While in Gallipoli Henningsen served in the 5th Light Horse regiment. He wrote to his parents from Gallipoli: ‘We feel that if we were not sent out in a righteous cause, we would not stand five minutes, as the bullets come like a shower or rain’. Back in Egypt he was transferred to the 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance and served in this unit in Egypt in 1916-1918.
  • No data about his life after the war could be found.

Otto Piukkula

  • Otto Piukkula, a Finn from Abo, Finland, was a sailor for six years before coming in 1913 to South Australia, where he worked as a labourer.
  • Enlisting in the AIF, he reached Gallipoli in September 1915 with the reinforcements of the 16th Battalion. In 1916 he was transferred to the 4th Light Trench Mortar Battery and served on the Western Front, attaining the rank of Lance corporal. In April 1917 he was killed at the battle for Bullecourt.
  • After his death his commander, Captain A.W. Nott, sent a letter to Piukkula’s mother in Finland, in which he wrote: ‘Let me include congratulations that you had such a gallant man for a son, with deepest feelings of all comrades’.

August Arreta

  • August Arreta, a seaman from Haapsalu in Estonia, came to Western Australia in 1911. After 18 months in Mornington, working probably at the timber mills there, he moved to South Australia, working in Port Pirie and Port Augusta.
  • With the 10th Battalion he participated in the landing at Gallipoli and was wounded in the leg in May 1915. After several months in hospitals in Egypt, he returned to the trenches in August 1915. In early 1916 he was transferred to the 24th Howitzer Brigade as a gunner and moved to the Western Front. In November 1916 he slipped on the rain soaked ground and his leg was crushed by the wheel of a gun. After some time in hospitals he was repatriated to Australia.
  • After demobilisation he received a pension for a time and worked as a wharfie in Port Adelaide. On 24 November 1922, loading a collier, he fell into the hold and died. Workingmen’s Compensation paid 20 pounds for his funeral expenses.

Arvid Berkis

  • Arvid Berkis, a Latvian sailor from Riga, came to Australia in 1909 via Russian Vladivostok. He was a heavyweight boxer, and travelling around Australia, worked as a sailor, labourer and miner.
  • He enlisted in the AIF in Melbourne; with the reinforcements for the 6th Battalion he sailed to Egypt in February 1915 per Runic. A correspondent wrote about a boxing championship held aboard the ship: ‘Berkis (Vic.) defeated ‘Bob’ Goyen (Tas. Artillery). The winner is of Russian parentage and a beautiful model of a man. He is 42in around the chest normal measurement, and is a terrific hitter’.
  • Landing at Gallipoli, Berkis was wounded in May in the charge at Krithia, but recovering in Egypt, he rejoined his battalion and was severely wounded again in the fight for German Officers’ Trench in July. He died of his wounds aboard the ship returning him to Egypt and was buried at sea – a sailor’s fate.


Amolin, Riedel, Popoff

December 16, 2014

John Amolin

  • John Amolin, a Latvian from Riga, served on the trading vessels as a seaman, landing in Australia in 1911. He worked as a miner in Broken Hill.
  • He arrived at Gallipoli with the reinforcements of the 16th Battalion in May 1915 and was killed in action on 23 August 1915.
  • After the war his cousin Jan Rosiang, who also served in the AIF, learnt that Amolin’s father died in 1916 and his two brothers were killed by Bolsheviks in 1920. The Australian government paid Amolin’s mother a pension till her death in 1952.

Charles Riedel

  • Charles Riedel from Sosnowiec in Poland was probably of German descent. Before the war he worked as a labourer in Mount Barker in South Australia.
  • He arrived at Gallipoli with the 10th Battalion reinforcements in May 1915 and later served on the Western Front. He was killed in the battle for Mouquet Farm in August 1916.
  • His family in Poland was never found.

Alexander Popoff

  • Alexander Popoff was of ethnic Russian descent, from Vologda. His mother Neonila Kaverzneva was the wife of a priest. Alexander came to Australia as a seaman and enlisted in the AIF in Sydney.
  • He served at Gallipoli and the Western Front and was killed in action in the battle for Poziers in July 1916.
  • His family in Russia was never found, and there are grounds to believe that his younger brother Ivan Kavrznev was arrested during Stalin’s purges of 1937.

Balooda, Hendrickson, Ljung

December 15, 2014

David Balooda

  • David Balooda from Riga was most likely a Latvian. According to his naturalisation he came to Australia in 1907 and worked on the farms in Victoria and Queensland, but in his obituary it was mentioned that, being a Lutheran, ‘he arrived in Australia in 1902 and was a pastoral worker in South Australia until war broke out in 1914’.
  • In his naturalisation and in the obituary it was stated that, enlisting in the AIF in Melbourne, he sailed to Egypt with the 24th Battalion, but was later invalided back to Australia. Service records concerning his AIF service have not been found in the archives and Balooda himself later stated that all his documents were lost when his camp at Barracoola in Queensland burned down.
  • In 1927, by the time of his naturalisation, he worked as a coal miner in Barracoola and had a family. In 1928 he took a selection at Callide Valley where many Russian families were engaged in farming.

John Hendrickson

  • John Hendrickson from Riga enlisted in the AIF in South Australia and fought with the 10th Battalion in Gallipoli.
  • In August 1915 he fell ill with otitis and rheumatism and was invalided to Australia. Nevertheless in 1917 he enlisted once again and served at the Western Front, where he was wounded in left arm in May 1918.
  • After the war, he disappears from Australian archival records.

Karl Richard Ljung

  • Karl Richard Ljung from Helsingfors (Helsinki) in Finland settled in South Australia before the war.
  • Serving with the 10th Battalion, he participated in the landing in Gallipoli and later served on the Western Front. In April 1917 he was killed in the battle for Noreuil in France.
  • His mother Ida was never found, but his Australian friends, the Glazbrook family from Birkenhead in Port Adelaide, commemorated his death in the local newspaper, printing his portrait. In October 2012 the Australian War Memorial dedicated one of its Last Post evening sessions to his memory.

Danberg, Schatkowski, Kleshenko

December 1, 2014

Rudolf Danberg

  • Rudolf Danberg from Riga was probably a Baltic German. Emigrating to Australia, he worked as a labourer in Holyoak, south of Perth.
  • He served in the 11th Battalion, landing at Gallipoli on 7 May 1915. Three months later he was wounded at the Lone Pine Battle; recovering, he was returned to the trenches and was wounded once again, in the head. He continued his service on the Western Front and was killed in September 1917 at the Menin Road Battle.
  • His mother in Riga was never found and Mrs Mary Shaw from Queens Park near Perth, the beneficiary of his will, died soon after him, in 1918.

Militan Schatkowski (Oldham)

  • Militan Schatkowski was born in Plateliai in Russia (now Lithuania). He was probably of Polish and German origin. He left home as a young man working as a sailor. Landing in Australia on the eve of war he worked as a fireman on coastal vessels.
  • Enlisting in the AIF, he arrived in Egypt with the 2nd Battalion and was soon sent back to Australia with a returning ship on escort duty. He joined his battalion in Gallipoli only in October 1915. Soon he fell ill and spent some time in hospitals, arriving at the Western Front in September 1916. Surviving several months of heavy fighting, he fell ill again and was transferred to England, where after recovery he worked in the Administrative HQ and the Red Cross. In 1918 he married a nurse, taking her surname, Oldham.
  • In 1919 she came with him to Australia, but did not stay there long, taking their daughter with her and giving birth to a son upon returning to England. She died early and her children grew up not knowing much about their father. Only decades later Militan’s grandchildren managed to piece together his life using archival records. One of his grandsons is Andrew Loog Oldham, the manager of the Rolling Stones. His other grandson, Michael John Oldham, wrote an essay about the life of his grandfather.

Joseph Kleshenko

  • Joseph Kleshenko, a 22-year-old seaman who landed in Sydney in 1912, enlisted in the AIF no less than seven times! The National Australian Archives records register his military career as that of three separate men and it took us some detective work in comparing his signatures, physical description and other data to determine that this was the same man. The first time he enlisted was in November 1914 as Joseph Noyland, a Russian subject born in Dubno. The application was filled in by an enlisting clerk, but by the time Joseph was meant to sign it, he had obviously forgotten the name he had chosen for his new identity and wrote at the bottom: ‘Joe Neyman’.
  • Enlisting, he disappeared without a trace and in the chaos of the first months of war the military obviously had no time to look for him. Three months later he enlisted once again, this time as Joseph Klinetinko from the same Dubno. The third enlistment he signed as Joe Klestenko, but the enlisting clerk wrote his name as Kleshenko and from now on his following enlistments assembled under this name. A number of his enlistments ended up with him getting venereal disease and discharged with the note ‘unlikely to become an efficient soldier’ or ‘services no longer required’, but he kept on enlisting again and again from different enlisting centres.
  • An obvious adventurer and troublemaker, he had a mark from a bullet wound on his ankle. This fitted well with his tales for the enlisting officers: that he not only served in the Russian army, but also in the American army for nine months; he even alleged that he received the bullet wound in the Russo-Japanese war. This seems unlikely as he was born in 1892; later, in any case, it turned into a ‘Gallipoli wound’ (and he most likely hadn’t ever been there).
  • As a result of his seventh enlistment, he reached England, where he met his future wife, the 17-year old Ethel from Manchester. Returning to Australia, he worked as a stevedore.

Beern, Lukander, Stips

November 30, 2014

Julajs Beern

  • Julajs Beern, a Latvian seaman, enlisted in the AIF in Melbourne. With the 3rd Battalion he participated in the Gallipoli landing, was wounded and brought to London to recover, where he met and married an English girl, but soon returned to the trenches of Gallipoli.
  • On the Western Front at the battle for Messines in June 1917 he was wounded again, and spent some time in English hospitals, briefly reunited with his wife before being invalided back to Australia.
  • He died a year later in Melbourne hospital, still intending to go to London to bring his wife out. She died only a couple of weeks after him, leaving behind a newborn son.

Albert Lukander

  • Albert Lukander, a Finnish seaman from Helsingfors, landed in South Australia in 1911.
  • Serving in the 10th Battalion, he was wounded at the Gallipoli landing, but recovering served until the evacuation. He was transferred to the Light Trench Mortar Battery with which he served in the Western Front as a Corporal. His heroism at the battle for Broodseinde in October 1917 won him the Military Medal. In July 1918 he was wounded during the advance on Hamel and evacuated to Australia.
  • Soon after the war, he married a girl from Scandinavia, and lived with his family at Semaphore, SA, working for stevedoring companies.

Charles Stips

  • Fitter Charles Stips came to Australia in 1911 and worked in Victoria, Tasmania and Broken Hill. In 1913 he naturalised as a Swiss, but when enlisting a year later he claimed to be a native of Libava in Russia (now Liepaja in Latvia).
  • His AIF service was short – three weeks later he was discharged at his own request.
  • He married soon after, and lived with his family in South Australia.

Hamann, Zines, Cepkouski

November 22, 2014

Martin Hamann

  • Martin Hamann, a seaman from Riga, enlisted in Sydney and served in the 13th Battalion. He was wounded twice at Gallipoli, but recovered.
  • Serving at the Western Front in the Field Artillery Brigade as a gunner, he was killed in Februry 1917.
  • His sister Anne from Riga was never found,

Joseph Morris Zines

  • Jewish Anzac Joseph Morris Zines came from Kamentsk-Podolsk with his family as child. Living in Perth he learnt the trade of a tailor.
  • At 19 he joined the AIF and fought at Gallipoli in the 12th Battalion. Later he wrote: ‘I was the only one in the co[mpan]y that served right through without being wounded or sick’. At the Western Front, however, he received a shrapnel wound to the head at the battle for Mouquet Farm; although he recovered, he fell ill in 1917 and returned to Australia.
  • After the war he married and moved to Sydney, where he worked as a tailor.

Charles Cepkouski

  • Kazimieras Cepkauskas from the Lithuanian township of Arlavishkis escaped from Russia at the age of 16 to avoid military service. He spent 3 years in Berlin and landed in Western Australia in 1910, deserting from a ship. Although having a trade of a boot maker, he worked for Todds Brick Kilns as a labourer.
  • He was the first Lithuanian to enlist in the AIF, serving with the 16th Battalion. He fought at Gallipoli, but in July 1915 was returned to Australia as medically unfit. After working as station hand for a year, he enlisted again and served as a Corporal in the Home Service until the end of the war. He enlisted in the AIF as Cepkouski, but later his name evolved into Charles Capouski.
  • After the war he married an Australian girl and had four children. He worked as a labourer in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. Depression and work related trauma hit him hard and he could hardly make ends meet. His elder son Charles served in the RAAF during WWII.

Sander, Eckland, Zeeman, Antin

November 15, 2014

Today we celebrate the lives of four seamen; three are from Latvia and one from Finland.

Arnold Sander

  • Arnold Sander, a seaman from Riga, was just 21 when he joined the AIF in Sydney.
  • Serving in the 3rd battalion, he participated in the landing at Gallipoli and was killed a month later, being the first Latvian Anzac to be killed in the war. He was buried in the Beach Cemetery, but his grave was lost.
  • After the war his father was found in Riga, he was given his son’s medals and an Australian pension.

Adolf Eckland

  • Adolf Eckland from Hanko in Finland joined the AIF the day after Sander, but unlike the young Latvian, 29 year old Eckland was a real sea wolf, his arms covered with tattoos and with a knife-wound scar in his left side.
  • In the AIF Ecland was in the same detachment as Sander and participated in the landing. He was wounded in August 1915 at the Lone Pine battle and spent several months in hospitals. With the 45th Battalion he was transferred to the Western Front and was killed in September 1916 at the battle for Mouquet Farm.

Fritz Zeeman

  • Fritz Zeeman (Zeemin) from Vindava (Ventspils), before landing in Newcastle in 1912, worked for 18 years as a seaman.
  • Enlisting in the AIF, he reduced his age by five years and served in the 13th Battalion. After Gallipoli he served on the Western Front, where he was wounded through the carelessness of another soldier and returned to Australia as medically unfit.
  • He worked as a miner in Kurri Kurri and Cloncurry and later on the railways in Queensland.

Martin Mikkel Antin

  • Martin Mikkel Antin, a seaman from Riga, enlisted as Fritz Lepin and served together with Zeeman in the 13th Battalion in Gallipoli before being transferred to the Western Front as a saddler in the 4th Machine Gun Battalion. He was wounded and gassed at the Western Front and, while recuperating in England, deserted and was court-martialled: the cause being that his co-servicemen teased him as a German in spite of the fact that he officially applied for the restoration of his original Latvian name.
  • He married soon after the war with a woman who had two young daughters, but his marriage ended in tragedy when he accidentally shot his wife during a squabble. The jury’s verdict was ‘not guilty’.

Ilupmaggi, Tamm, Fels

November 8, 2014

Roman Ilupmaggi

  • Roman Ilupmaggi was the first Estonian to enlist in the AIF. Born in Revel (Tallinn), he worked the seas for some time, until he settled in Sydney, working as a shoeing smith.
  • With this trade he was in demand in the AIF, serving with the 2nd Signal Troop Engineers in Gallipoli. In the Western Front he was transferred to the 4th Battalion and reached the rank of corporal. Wounded in arm in June 1918 in the battle for Strazeele, he was repatriated to Australia.
  • Recently a group of enthusiasts tried to find his relatives in Estonia in order to return to them his WWI medals, but did not succeed.

Karl Tamm

  • Karl Tamm, another native of Estonia born in Pärnu, worked in Sydney as an engine driver.
  • He served in Gallipoli and the Western Front in the artillery detachments, first as a driver, and then as a gunner and bombardier. In April 1918 at Hazebrouck he was severely wounded in the chest and leg and sent to hospital in the UK.
  • Demobilising there in 1919, he married an English girl and moved with her to New Zealand, working as a seaman. In 1924-1927 they made an attempt to settle in Estonia, but in 1927 returned with three young children to New Zealand and settled in Kopuawhara, where Karl worked as a miner.

Schija Fels

  • Schija Fels came from a well-off Jewish family from Warsaw. At eighteen he came to Antwerp as an apprentice of his uncle, learning the trade of diamond cutter, and in 1912 emigrated to Australia.
  • He participated in the Gallipoli landing with the 13th Battalion; a few days later during the battle for Bloody Angle he received a gunshot wound leaving him lame for the rest of his life. He was evacuated to Australia, but for him the war was not yet over. While recovering, he went to England on his own initiative. There, he first tried to enlist in the Royal Flying Corps but was rejected as medically unfit; then managed to get a post in British military intelligence, where he served until the end of the war.
  • After the war he returned to Australia but soon engaged in the Shanghai-Paris exporting business. In Paris he married a young Russian refugee, Vera. Coming with him to Australia, she became Germaine Rocher, the head of Sydney’s most celebrated fashion house.