Walters, Berg, Hellman, Harast

April 17, 2017

Philip Walters

  • Philip Walters, a Jewish man from Ludza in Latvia, emigrated to Western Australia with his relatives as a teenager; some of them changed their original surname, Pasvalsky, to Walters. Philip worked in Perth as a tailor.
  • Before enlisting in the AIF he was a sergeant major, working on troop training. Two of his uncles, Louis Pasvalsky and Isidore Walters, enlisted in the army earlier, and Louis, aged 19, was killed in September 1916, at the battle for Mouquet Farm. In 1917, when Philip was 22, he enlisted himself and served on the Western Front with the 26th Battalion. During an operation to the east of Mont St Quentin, near Peronne, on 3rd September 1918, he was engaged, according to his recommendation for award, ‘with a bombing party in bombing the enemy out of a portion of trench required to establish our line. His officer being killed early in the operation, he took charge of his party, and when it was held up by heavy machine gun fire, he decided to go forward himself, with one volunteer, to attack the position. By great courage and daring, he attacked and dispersed the enemy, thus allowing his party to establish a post at the required position’. For his heroism he was awarded a Military Medal.
  • Philip married an Australian woman, Fanny Morris, before his departure to the Western Front, but she died in 1921. Later he married Sylvia Fay and lived in Perth, working as a financier. During WWII he served in the AIF in the audit section.

Arnold Berg

  • Arnold Berg, whose original name was Arne Kanttinen, was a Finnish seaman from Helsingfors (Helsinki). He came to Australia in February 1917 and enlisted a few days later.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Adelaide, he served with the 43rd Battalion on the Western Front. In May 1918 he was gassed and spent several months in English hospitals.
  • While recovering in London, he married an English girl, Carrie Ethel Robinson, and returned to Australia with his wife. After the war he was farming in Greenock and Kielpa in South Australia, raising a large family. During WWII he enlisted in the AIF and served with the 5th Volunteer Defense Corps Battalion, while his son Arnold Hjalmar also served in the AIF, being taken POW by the Japanese and working on the infamous Burma railway.

Edward Hellman

  • Edward Hellman, an Estonian from Dorpat (Tartu), was seafaring for several years, before he came to Western Australia in 1913. He worked in Australia as a sleeper hewer.
  • He tried to enlist for the first time in the AIF in March 1916, but was rejected as medically unfit. In March 1917 he was accepted and served with the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade on the Western Front.
  • Returning to Australia, he settled in Sydney with his wife Gertrude, working as a restaurant keeper and chef. During WWII he enlisted in the AIF and served in the 1st Motor Regiment.

Alexander Harast

  • Alexander Harast, a sailor from Revel (Tallinn) in Estonia, came to Australia about 1913 and by 1917 lived in Ravine in New South Wales.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney, he was allocated to the machine gun reinforcements, but in August 1917 he deserted the camp.
  • The following years he spent hiding in the Snowy and Blue Mountains in Victoria and New South Wales. He lived in caves and to survive stole weapons, blankets, and food from settlers; later he started stealing horses. He used several aliases and his description in Police Gazette mentioned that he ‘speaks several languages, fond of sketching and writing religious passages in his notebook’. The police apprehended him several times; he served several years of hard labour, but as soon as he was released the crimes resumed. In 1934, when he was terrorising the Nawendoc area of New South Wales, a policeman whom he threatened shot him dead.