Alias Peter John Metser
Place Arensburg (Kuressaare), Oesel (Saaremaa), Estonia
Ethnic origin Estonian
Religion Russian Orthodox
Arrived at Australia
per Tasmanian Transport (as crew member)
disembarked at Hobart
Residence before enlistment Tasmania
Occupation 1915 Engineer on ship; 1917 Marine and Mechanical engineer, 1918 commercial traveller, 1930 engineer
Service service number 5555
POE Claremont, Tasmania
unit 6th Field Company Engineers, 13th Field Company Engineers
place Western Front, 1916-1917
final fate RTA 4.05.1917
Residence after the war 1917 Hobart, 1918 Sydney, 1922 Lithgow, NSW, 1929 and later: Sydney, 1958 Narrabeen, NSW
Digitised naturalisation (NAA)
Biographical file (AWM)
Peter Metser to D. Lloyd George [April 1919], in: Consuls Soviet Russia General (NAA)
Personal case file (NAA)
Seaman's nationality. Russian or Swede?. - Daily Post, Hobart, 3 August 1915, p. 2.
Souvenir. Digger and King Albert. - Sun, Sydney, 20 February 1934
Unjust taxation. - The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 March 1944, p. 3.
From Russian Anzacs in Australian History:
But the winter of 1916-17 was not all grim. The trenches became the soldiers' home and their comrades became their family. Soldiers took their leaves in Paris and London, attended training schools, and had unusual encounters -- I mention just two. The first one was on Christmas Eve 1916 and involved the Estonian former marine engineer Peter Metser, then 'a private stationed at the artillery "bullring" (training ground) at Etaples'. Metser 'had lost his 100-franc Christmas draw in the two-up school, and had returned to his quarters none too pleased, to find his mate "shot" and demanding a meal. Metser was preparing the meal when his mate asked him for a fag. Metser, who hadn't the price of a fag left, was abusing his mate for his temerity, and bemoaning his loss when the door opened and a Colonel cautioned him for having a light showing. He then remarked on the private's distress at his loss (which Metser had magnified to 500 francs in conversation), and, pressing a note into his hand, asked to be led to Captain Adkins, the officer-in-charge. Through the pitch-black night, the two tramped to the officers quarters.' On his return Metser was amazed to discover in his hand a bill of such high denomination that it had never before been seen by the troops -- a 1000 franc note. But his amazement was even greater the next day when he learned that he had served as a guide to Albert I, king of the Belgians, who used to visit the troops incognito.
[...] In general, Russian subjects, including non-naturalised servicemen, faced very unfavourable conditions at that time, just after the war. While Finns, Poles and peoples of the new Baltic states had their consular representatives in Australia after the war, the Russians were deprived of any diplomatic representation in the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution. The bolshevik propaganda put out by the unrecognised consul, Peter Simonoff, only made the situation worse for ordinary Russians. Peter Metser, a returned soldier, appealed to Lloyd George on their behalf, 'we were not only forgotten but - punished by His Majesty's Government by not counting us as living population', and offered his own services as a consul in Tasmania. But all this was to no avail: diplomatic relations were only established with Russia during the Second World War.