Hvitfelt, Permakoff, Ouchirenko, Skugar, Niemi

May 27, 2016

Ernest Alfred Hvitfelt

  • Ernest Alfred Hvitfelt, a Finn from Abo (Turku), came to Australia in 1914 and worked as a labourer in Gippsland and Riverina.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney, he served with the 2nd Battalion on the Western Front. In April 1917 he was wounded in the arm at Doignes but recovered and continued his service to the end of the war. For his gallantry and devotion to duty during the September 1918 battle at Hargicourt, where he worked as a stretcher-bearer, he was awarded the Military medal.
  • While in an English hospital he became acquainted with an English girl, Harriet Foskett; they married and sailed to Australia together in 1919, but his wife died the next year in Sydney. It is quite likely that he left Australia for America after that.

Nicholas Permakoff

  • Nicholas Permakoff, a Russian from Archangel, served in an artillery unit in the Russian army. He worked in Australia as a miner and lived in Dubbo.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney, he expected to be transferred to the Russian Army upon arrival in England. This was not done, but by that time the Russian Revolution had taken place and Permakoff refused to fight at all. He was court-martialled, but nevertheless he was brought to the Western Front with the 4th Battalion. In June 1918 he cast aside his weapon and in broad daylight went to the German trenches. An Australian Lance Corporal, fulfilling the order of the commanding officer, killed him before he managed to reach the German lines.
  • Permakoff’s mother in Archangel was never found.

John Ouchirenko

  • John Ouchirenko, a Ukrainian from Odessa and ship engineer by trade, came to Australia in 1915.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Melbourne, he served with the 39th Battalion on the Western Front. In July 1917 he was gas poisoned and then received a concussion in October 1917 at Broodseinde near Ypres.
  • In 1917, while in a training camp in England, he met and married an English girl, Clara Lane, but the marriage did not last. Upon return to Australia he worked as a ship’s engineer and in 1927 married an Australian girl, Doris Robertson. They lived in Ballarat and had five children. During WWII John enlisted in the AIF and served as a home guard.

Gerard Martyn Skugar

  • Gerard Martyn Skugar, a Pole from Vilno (Vilnius) in Lithuania, came to Australia as a seaman in 1914 and worked in the Bundaberg area, probably as a canecutter.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Rockhampton, he served with the 41st Battalion on the Western Front. In August 1918, at the battle near Hamel, he singlehandedly captured an enemy machine gun and continued excellent work until he was severely wounded in the head. For this battle he was awarded the Military Medal.
  • After the war he tried to settle in the soldiers’ settlement, then, during the Depression, for several years had no fixed place of abode. In the early 1930s he lived in Sydney working as a jeweller and for a brief time was an acting Polish Consul and the president of the Polish National Alliance. Later he moved to North Queensland, working as a miner and labourer. During WWII he enlisted in the AIF and was on home service.

Karl Niemi

  • Karl Niemi, a Finnish seaman from Killinkoski, enlisted in the AIF in Sydney.
  • He served with the 30th Battalion on the Western Front. In December 1917 he experienced severe shell shock, suffered from amnesia and was repatriated to Australia.
  • After the war he lived in Sydney, but after 1921 he disappears from the available records.