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.