December 1, 2014
- 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.
November 15, 2014
- 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.
Today we celebrate the lives of four seamen; three are from Latvia and one from Finland.
- 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 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 (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
November 5, 2014
- 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’.
Today we celebrate lives of three Latvian born servicemen.
- Didrich Rozenfeld from Libava (now Liepaja, Latvia) was probably of Baltic German origin. He came to South Australia in 1909 as a sailor and lived in Port Pirie.
- In Gallipoli he fought in the 9th Light Horse Regiment and continued to fight on the Western Front as a gunner in an artillery brigade.
- In September 1917 he died in Belgium as a result of an accident and was buried in Hazebrouck cemetery. His mother, living in Revel (Tallinn), was located after the war and received an Australian pension.
- Edward Beglot was born in Riga, but his ethnic origin remains unknown. While in Russia he was an apprentice on the railway and served for 3 years in the artillery in the Russian Army. Arriving in Australia in 1910, he worked as an engine fitter.
- He enlisted in the AIF in South Australia and served in the 9th Light Horse Regiment, but deserted before embarkation, for reasons which remain unclear.
- He lived in Melbourne and Sydney, working as a fitter and turner.
November 1, 2014
- John Reineke from Libava was, most probably, of German descent. Arriving to Australia in 1909, he had worked as a labourer at Greenvale, north of Melbourne.
- He served with the Light Horse Regiment in Gallipoli and then in Egypt. Taking part in the famous raid on Beersheba on 31 October 1917, he was hit in the stomach with a bullet whilst charging, and died at a field ambulance station.
The very first contingent of Australian troops, this First Fleet of the new Australian nationhood, whose departure we celebrate today, had 14 Russian-born future Anzacs. The Afric carried Russian from St Petersburg Alexander Arn, Finn Thomas Baer, and Jewish teenager from Poland Robert Mayer; the Argyllshire – George Kamishansky from Ukraine; the Ascanius – Lithuanian German Oscar Zander and Russian Alexander Sast from Ukraine; the Euripides had a Pole, Alfred Jan de Topor Markowicz, Russian Jew Abraham Levene posing as David Conroy from Scotland, Finn Edwin Rosberg, and Russian from Simbirsk Nicholas Sindeeff; the Geelong carried Finn Alexander Hiltunen; the Honorata – Briton from St Petersburg George Ball; the Marere – another Briton from Riga, Francis Wilfred Holt Dyson; and the Medic – Edward Watson from Poland. They would all participate in the Gallipoli landing.
Levene will be killed at Gallipoli; Sindeeff severely wounded and repatriated to Australia.
Hiltunen will contract TB during his service at Gallipoli and die back in Australia, at Port Elliott, in 1917.
Sast will be captured POW at Gallipoli, and escaping from Turks, will cross Russia to reach the British Army in Archangel and rejoin the Australian Army.
Ball, awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry at Lone Pine in Gallipoli, will be killed at the Somme in 1916. Zander, too, will be killed in 1916, at Mouquet Farm. Dyson will be killed at the Somme in 1918.
Baer, wounded at Gallipoli, will survive two years at the Western Front and return to Australia with his British wife. Watson will survive, although be wounded soon after the Gallipoli landing, and again in 1916 at Pozier at the Western Front. Kamishansky and Rosberg, too, will survive Gallipoli and the Western Front.
Arn, losing his fingers at the Gallipoli landing, will reenlist and serve for two more years in the Camel Corps in Egypt. Mayer, repatriated from Gallipoli to Australia with enteric fever, will reenlist and serve on the Western Front where he will be wounded at Peronne at the very end of war.
Markowicz, showing bravery during the first days of the battle, will then be deported to Australia on suspicion of being a spy and will fight for years to clear his name.