Petrowski, Rink, Ganivahoff, Goffin, Kiva

March 2, 2016

George Alexander Petrowski

  • George Alexander Petrowski from St Petersburg came to Australia in 1913 from the Russian Far East and lived in Sydney and Orange, working as a watchmaker.
  • He served with the 3rd Pioneers Battalion on the Western Front, attaining the rank of Lance-Corporal.
  • While stationed in Armenrieres, he married a local girl, Adele Clemence Decoopman, and stayed in France after the war, working as a watchmaker and jeweller.

Christian Rink

  • Christian Rink had multiple versions of his life. He enlisted in the AIF as the native of Odessa, but in his naturalization he stated he was born in Bordeaux in France, of a French father and a Romanian mother. According to the police investigation, he was actually Christian Lawrence Smidt Rinkoff. He came to Australia in 1899 and lived in different states, working, probably, as an engineer and electrician.
  • He served with the Field Company Engineers as a sapper on the Western Front, but was returned to Australia as ‘undesirable’, being suspected to be of German origin.
  • After the war he was a hotel licensee in Albany and, after a conflict with the law, left for New Zealand, where he was arrested for claiming false pretences. Released from prison, he married a local girl, Clare, and worked as an engineer, wine agent and builder.

Abdul Ganivahoff

  • Abdul Ganivahoff, a Tatar man from Kazan, came to Australia as a seaman and enlisted in the AIF in Melbourne.
  • He served with the 2nd Pioneer Battalion on the Western Front, being appointed a Corporal. In August 1916 he was wounded at Pozieres but remained on duty. In January 1917 he was transferred to the 19th Battalion.
  • By the time of Ganivahoff’s enlistment in the AIF, his parents were dead, and an enlisting clerk, Henry Nicholson, offered to be recorded as his next of kin. He cared to make inquiries about his destiny after the war and discovered that his adopted friend was killed during the advance on German trenches in February 1917.

Ben Goffin

  • Ben Goffin, a Jewish man from Tulchin in Ukraine, emigrated with his family to the USA in 1912 as a child. In 1916 he came to Australia as a ship’s painter and enlisted in the AIF the next day.
  • He served with the 22nd Battalion on the Western Front. In May 1917 he was wounded in the back and both shoulders at Bullecourt. Six months later, after recovery, he returned to the front and was severely wounded in the chest and gassed in August 1918 near Villers Brettoneaux.
  • After the war he worked as a plumber and ironmonger living in Melbourne, where he married an Australian girl, Anne Koodak. They moved to soldiers’ settlement near Albany in Western Australia and had three children. In 1931 Goffin died in an accident on his farm.

Nikalas Kiva

  • Nikalas Kiva, a Ukrainian man from Odessa, came to Australia from the Russian Far East in 1913.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Townsville, he arrived with the reinforcements to the 9th Battalion on the Western Front January 1917 and was killed in April 1917 at Bullecourt.
  • His mother in Odessa was never found, but the photograph of Nikalas survived in the archive of his Russian friend Osiph Rinkevich.

Winter, Abolin, Magnusson, Wirkanen, Finn

March 1, 2016

Otto Winter

  • Otto Winter, a Finnish seaman from Helsingfors (Helsinki), came to Australia in 1907. Not long before his enlistment he married a girl from South Australia, Irene Daley, and had a son.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Casula, Sydney, with the group of Finish seamen who were allocated to the Camel Corps, he was was separated from them and sent to the reinforcements of the Mining Corps. In March 1918 he was gassed and then wounded in July 1918, but remained on duty.
  • After the war he lived with his family in Adelaide, South Australia, working as a fitter. During WWII he enlisted in the AIF and served in the Volunteer Defence Corps.

Martin Abolin

  • Martin Abolin, a Latvian from Riga, came to Australia in about 1911 and worked as a timber worker in Jarrahdale in Western Australia.
  • He served with the 44th Battalion on the Western Front and was killed in June 1917 at Messines.
  • His brother John, living in England, was found after the war.

Neils William Magnusson

  • Neils William Magnusson, a Finn from the Aland Islands, came to Australia in 1914, most likely as a seaman.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Newcastle, he served with the 35th Battalion on the Western Front, attaining the rank of Lance-Corporal. In July 1917 he was severely wounded, receiving shrapnel wounds to his head, leg, and arms, and repatriated to Australia. Recovering, he reenlisted in September 1918 and worked as a rigger in the camp.
  • After the war he lived in Newcastle, working as a carpenter.

Juho David Julius Wirkanen

  • Juho David Julius Wirkanen, a Finnish seaman from Nystad (Uusikaupunki), came to Australia in 1912 and worked on interstate and coastal boats.
  • He served with the 1st Battalion on the Western Front until he got sick and was returned to Australia.
  • After the war he continued his work as a seaman and drowned in June 1921 aboard the steamer Our Jack. His friend Florence Hayes commemorated his death in a newspaper two years later.

Paul Elias Isaac Finn

  • Paul Elias Isaac Finn, a Jewish man from Vilno (Vilnius) in Lithuania, left Russia in 1907 and spent several years in Scotland, moving to Australia in 1913. He worked as a fitter and motor driver on the railway. By the time of his enlistment in the AIF he had become a Methodist.
  • He served with the 35th Battalion on the Western Front, being later transferred to the 9th Light Trench Mortar Battery. He was wounded three times, first in July 1917 near Messines, then he was gassed at Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918, and in August 1918, during the Amiens advance, he was wounded in the arm. After the third casualty he was repatriated to Australia.
  • After the war he lived in Sydney, working as a fitter, car driver, and engineer. In 1936 he married an Australian woman, Essie Lilias Crawford. During WWII he enlisted in the AIF and served in a garrison battalion.