Ilupmaggi, Tamm, Fels

November 8, 2014

Roman Ilupmaggi

  • Roman Ilupmaggi was the first Estonian to enlist in the AIF. Born in Revel (Tallinn), he worked the seas for some time, until he settled in Sydney, working as a shoeing smith.
  • With this trade he was in demand in the AIF, serving with the 2nd Signal Troop Engineers in Gallipoli. In the Western Front he was transferred to the 4th Battalion and reached the rank of corporal. Wounded in arm in June 1918 in the battle for Strazeele, he was repatriated to Australia.
  • Recently a group of enthusiasts tried to find his relatives in Estonia in order to return to them his WWI medals, but did not succeed.

Karl Tamm

  • Karl Tamm, another native of Estonia born in Pärnu, worked in Sydney as an engine driver.
  • He served in Gallipoli and the Western Front in the artillery detachments, first as a driver, and then as a gunner and bombardier. In April 1918 at Hazebrouck he was severely wounded in the chest and leg and sent to hospital in the UK.
  • Demobilising there in 1919, he married an English girl and moved with her to New Zealand, working as a seaman. In 1924-1927 they made an attempt to settle in Estonia, but in 1927 returned with three young children to New Zealand and settled in Kopuawhara, where Karl worked as a miner.

Schija Fels

  • Schija Fels came from a well-off Jewish family from Warsaw. At eighteen he came to Antwerp as an apprentice of his uncle, learning the trade of diamond cutter, and in 1912 emigrated to Australia.
  • He participated in the Gallipoli landing with the 13th Battalion; a few days later during the battle for Bloody Angle he received a gunshot wound leaving him lame for the rest of his life. He was evacuated to Australia, but for him the war was not yet over. While recovering, he went to England on his own initiative. There, he first tried to enlist in the Royal Flying Corps but was rejected as medically unfit; then managed to get a post in British military intelligence, where he served until the end of the war.
  • After the war he returned to Australia but soon engaged in the Shanghai-Paris exporting business. In Paris he married a young Russian refugee, Vera. Coming with him to Australia, she became Germaine Rocher, the head of Sydney’s most celebrated fashion house.