Peter Chirvin was born on Sakhalin Island and worked as a newspaper reporter before coming to Brisbane in October 1914.
Three months later he enlisted in the AIF and sailed to Gallipoli with the reinforcements to the 9th Battalion. He continued his service on the Western Front in the 49th Battalion. In September 1916 he was wounded in the wrist at Mouquet Farm while serving as a stretcher-bearer. He was recommended for an award but did not receive it. After his second casualty in September 1918 he was awarded the Military Medal for his work as a stretcher-bearer during the St Quentin battle. He returned to Australia in April 1919 at the time of Red Flag riots in Brisbane and, being ‘ragged owing to being a Russian’ by other soldiers, committed suicide aboard the ship.
Chirvin’s story was told for the first time in ‘Russian Anzacs in Australian History’ and recently presented in the One Hundred Stories project at Monash University.
Nicholas Rosalieff was born in Samara Province near the Volga River. Being a member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party – working for radical political change in the Russian Empire – he was arrested in 1906 and exiled to Siberia. In 1910 he fled Siberia and landed in Brisbane in 1911. Although working in Russia as a printer and locksmith, in Australia he had to transform himself into a cane-cutter.
Enlisting in the AIF together with Chirvin, he landed at Gallipoli in June 1915, but was soon returned to Australia for medical reasons. Waiting for reallocation he left the camp and was declared a deserter, ineligible for war medals. His reluctance to serve in the army was probably due to the fact that the Russian Socialists opposed imperialist war and discouraged Russians in Australia from serving in the Army.
After the February 1917 revolution he left Australia for Russia, joined the Communist Party and made a career as a Soviet public servant. In 1930 he was posted as a Soviet trade representative to Korea where he died two years later. He is buried in the famous Novodeviche Cemetery in Moscow.
Albert Krantz grew up in Novopavlovka in Ekaterinoslav Province. In 1905, at the age of 13, he came to Australia with his elder brother Samuel Krantz, following Jewish chain migration. He learnt the skill of a carpenter working in a Broken Hill mine, later moving to Sydney.
Enlisting in the AIF, Krantz landed in Gallipoli with the 17th Battalion. Later he wrote: ‘I landed on Gallipoli several days after the original landing and served there until the final evacuation’. He continued his service on the Western Front where he was severely wounded in April 1918 in the battle for Amiens. He received a gun shot wound to the right wrist and was evacuated to Australia.
Returning to Australia he learned the trade of electroplating and worked in Sydney. His wife Emily died in 1925, leaving their two young children in his care.