Henningsen, Piukkula, Arreta, Berkis

December 20, 2014

Hans Peter Henningsen

  • Hans Peter Henningsen came to Australia with his family as a boy in 1900. They farmed in the Woombye area in Queensland. Hans and his family were Danish, but enlisting in the AIF, he stated that he was born in Russia.
  • While in Gallipoli Henningsen served in the 5th Light Horse regiment. He wrote to his parents from Gallipoli: ‘We feel that if we were not sent out in a righteous cause, we would not stand five minutes, as the bullets come like a shower or rain’. Back in Egypt he was transferred to the 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance and served in this unit in Egypt in 1916-1918.
  • No data about his life after the war could be found.

Otto Piukkula

  • Otto Piukkula, a Finn from Abo, Finland, was a sailor for six years before coming in 1913 to South Australia, where he worked as a labourer.
  • Enlisting in the AIF, he reached Gallipoli in September 1915 with the reinforcements of the 16th Battalion. In 1916 he was transferred to the 4th Light Trench Mortar Battery and served on the Western Front, attaining the rank of Lance corporal. In April 1917 he was killed at the battle for Bullecourt.
  • After his death his commander, Captain A.W. Nott, sent a letter to Piukkula’s mother in Finland, in which he wrote: ‘Let me include congratulations that you had such a gallant man for a son, with deepest feelings of all comrades’.

August Arreta

  • August Arreta, a seaman from Haapsalu in Estonia, came to Western Australia in 1911. After 18 months in Mornington, working probably at the timber mills there, he moved to South Australia, working in Port Pirie and Port Augusta.
  • With the 10th Battalion he participated in the landing at Gallipoli and was wounded in the leg in May 1915. After several months in hospitals in Egypt, he returned to the trenches in August 1915. In early 1916 he was transferred to the 24th Howitzer Brigade as a gunner and moved to the Western Front. In November 1916 he slipped on the rain soaked ground and his leg was crushed by the wheel of a gun. After some time in hospitals he was repatriated to Australia.
  • After demobilisation he received a pension for a time and worked as a wharfie in Port Adelaide. On 24 November 1922, loading a collier, he fell into the hold and died. Workingmen’s Compensation paid 20 pounds for his funeral expenses.

Arvid Berkis

  • Arvid Berkis, a Latvian sailor from Riga, came to Australia in 1909 via Russian Vladivostok. He was a heavyweight boxer, and travelling around Australia, worked as a sailor, labourer and miner.
  • He enlisted in the AIF in Melbourne; with the reinforcements for the 6th Battalion he sailed to Egypt in February 1915 per Runic. A correspondent wrote about a boxing championship held aboard the ship: ‘Berkis (Vic.) defeated ‘Bob’ Goyen (Tas. Artillery). The winner is of Russian parentage and a beautiful model of a man. He is 42in around the chest normal measurement, and is a terrific hitter’.
  • Landing at Gallipoli, Berkis was wounded in May in the charge at Krithia, but recovering in Egypt, he rejoined his battalion and was severely wounded again in the fight for German Officers’ Trench in July. He died of his wounds aboard the ship returning him to Egypt and was buried at sea – a sailor’s fate.