Halona, Maunula, Drachuk, Haiff, Gensberg

May 5, 2016

Mikael Halona

  • Mikael Halona from Helsingfors (Helsinki) in Finland enlisted in the AIF in Rockhampton.
  • He served with the 4th Pioneer Battalion on the Western Front. In August 1917 he was killed by a shell.

George Jeremias Maunula

  • George Jeremias Maunula, a Finnish seaman from Helsingfors, came to Australia in 1914 and worked on railway construction in Queensland. He enlisted in the AIF together with Halona in Rockhampton.
  • He served with the 52nd Battalion on the Western Front. In September 1917 he was wounded in the neck at the battle for Polygon Wood near Ypres. In April 1918 he was gassed at Dernancourt.
  • After the war he worked as a labourer in Queensland, later moving to Newcastle where he lived in the Diggers’ Camp on Hall Street.

Paul Drachuk

  • Paul Drachuk, a Russianised Moldovian from Kishinev, served as a wireless operator during the Russo-Japanese war and stayed in Harbin after that. He married there and had a daughter. In 1915 he came to Australia and enlisted four months later.
  • He served in the 1st Wireless Squadron in India, where he fell seriously ill. After a letter criticising the AIF in India from Drachuk to his friend Grigory Shilov was intercepted by the censor, he was sent back to Australia.
  • In 1921 Drachuk returned to Soviet Russia, soon followed by Shilov, who was arrested and served his sentence on the White Sea Canal construction project. Drachuk settled in Moscow and worked as an economist. He married Olga Baranovskaia in 1923 and their daughter Rimma preserved his AIF diary.

Saul Haiff

  • Saul Haiff, a Jewish man from Odessa, came to Perth in 1909; two years later he moved to Sydney working as a tailor.
  • His first attempt to enlist in the AIF in February 1916 was unsuccessful, but he was accepted two months later. He served with the 53rd Battalion on the Western Front.
  • After the war he married an Australian woman, Yente (Jeanette) Pelmothe, and lived in Sydney working as a tailor.

Jacob Gensberg

  • Jacob Gensberg, a Jewish man from Riga, came to Australia in 1894 after four years in London; he settled in Melbourne working as a bootmaker and then as a fruiterer. He was married and had a family. His son Alfred served in the AIF.
  • By the time of his enlistment in the AIF he was nearly 45, but he was accepted and sailed to the Western Front with the 23rd Battalion. When he got sick soon after arrival he was transferred to work in the Australian Veterinary Hospital.
  • After the war he lived in Melbourne, working as fruiterer, later moving to Reid’s Flat where he kept a hotel.