William Deonck was born in Lida in Belarus; his original surname is unknown but his first name, as remembered by his family, was probably Thaddeus, which suggests a Belarusian or Polish origin. He came to Australia as a sailor when the war had already broken out, and deserted his ship in Newcastle.
A few days later he enlisted to the AIF and landed at Gallipoli in August 1915 with the 17th Battalion; he was one of the last to leave when the peninsula was evacuated. For his bravery there he was awarded a Military Medal. His commander, Lieutenant-Colonel E.T. Martin, wrote in his recommendation for the award, ‘As a bomber on Quinn’s Post, where bombing was exceptionally heavy, he proved himself reliable, keen and energetic. His demeanour among his comrades is invaluable owing to his cheerful disposition under the most adverse circumstances.’ In July 1916 he was wounded in the left shoulder at Pozieres, on the Western Front. Recovering in England, he was trusted to serve in the Provost Corps.
In London, he married an English girl, Kathleen Spinks, and returned with his wife to Australia. The settled in Sydney where he worked a motor engineer and painter.
John Shuplakoff (his true name was Ivan Shokhin), came from a village near Tver in Central Russia. Arriving in Brisbane in 1911 from the Far East, he moved to Broken Hill and Adelaide, working as a labourer.
Enlisting in the AIF, he joined the 27th Battalion and fought at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. He was wounded at the battle for Pozieres a few days after Deonck and Boryss and died of wounds.
His father, a peasant from Turchaninovo, was found after the war and received his son’s medals.
Albert Michael Tober – he enlisted in the AIF as Michael Tober – was born in Volyn Province in Ukraine and probably had some Russian German heritage. He came to South Australia 1913 as a seaman. He worked in Adelaide as a blacksmith, motor driver and mechanic.
Enlisting in the AIF he served at Gallipoli with the 10th Battalion. During the service he became sick and was returned to Australia as medically unfit. In 1917 he reenlisted but served in the depot only.
He married an Australian girl, Lily Teresa Lawler, during the war, and lived in New South Wales, making an unsuccessful attempt to settle in a soldier settlement in 1919.