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.

Rozenfeld, Beglot, Reineke

November 5, 2014

Today we celebrate lives of three Latvian born servicemen.

Didrich Rozenfeld

  • 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

  • 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.

John Reineke

  • 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 First Fleet of the new Australian nationhood

November 1, 2014

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.