Kivlen, Gregorenko, Gorgensen, Karhu, Trager, Deckhardt

November 9, 2015

Michael Kivlen

  • Michael Kislithin was born near Kotelnich in Viatka Province. He came to Brisbane via the Russian Far East and worked as a yardman. After settling in Australia he used the name Kivlen.
  • His service in the AIF was not long. He was reprimanded for insubordination soon after enlistment and discharged a month later with the formula ‘not likely to become an efficient soldier’.
  • After that he worked as a labourer and woodcutter in Brisbane, Broken Hill, Port Pirie, and North Queensland. In 1923, when he applied for naturalization, the policeman recorded that he ‘walks with a stick owing to a spinal injury’. It was also noted that he was ‘not a member of Russian association except the library section’. In the 1940s he was farming at Maranboy at the Northern Territory, but later returned to Brisbane.

Richard Gregorenko

  • Richard Gregorenko, a Ukrainian from Karapyshi in Kiev Province, spent three and a half years in China and Japan before landing in Brisbane in 1910. He worked there as a clerk and bookbinder.
  • He served in the AIF in the Field Ambulance on the Western Front. In October 1918 he was returned to Australia on account of Russian nationality.
  • After the war he married Australian girl, Vera Scriven, and had three children. Their marriage did not last long and in 1929 he took a cotton growing selection in Lawgi in Callide Valley, where he moved with his sons. They boys served in the AIF during WWII.

Charles Gorgensen

  • Charles Gorgensen from Riga came to Australia not long before the war as a sailor and worked in Mount Morgan as a miner.
  • A month after enlistment in the AIF he was discharged as medically unfit.
  • After the war he worked as a seaman and in 1924 naturalised in New Orleans, USA.

Hjalmar Karhu

  • Hjalmar Karhu, a Finnish seaman, landed in Australia in July 1915 after toiling the sea for eight years.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Perth, he served with the 48th Battalion on the Western Front. In August 1916 he was wounded in the back, but returned to the trenches after his recovery. In April 1917 during the advance against the Hindenburg Line at Bullecourt he was wounded in the right knee and taken prisoner of war. His leg was amputated above the knee and he was kept at the Soltau camp. In January 1918 he was released and repatriated to England. While in a depot there he met English girl Lily Violet Warwick, and they married in August 1918.
  • After their return to Australia, they settled in Cottesloe near Perth, where Hjalmar worked as a bootmaker.

Samuel Trager

  • Samuel Trager, a young Jewish man from Nikolaev in Ukraine, came to Brisbane from the Russian Far East with his parents and siblings. He was trained as a boot clicker.
  • He made the first attempt to enlist in the AIF in November 1915 in Sydney when he was just 18. A month later he was discharged as medically unfit. In February 1917 he enlisted again, but his service went wrong. He had a number of absences without leave, conflicts with his commanders, and escape from detention. After the end of the war warrant for his arrest was withdrawn.
  • After the war he lived in Brisbane and Sydney often being in trouble with the law because of petty crimes he became involved.

Robert Deckhardt

  • Robert Deckhardt, a fireman from Lublin in Poland, jumped ship in Bunbury in 1912.
  • He made his first attempt to enlist in the AIF in 1914 and was finally accepted in Rockhampton. He served as a Lance Corporal with the 42nd Battalion on the Western Front. In October 1917 he was killed at the battle for Passchendaele.
  • His parents died before he left Russia and in the AIF he made his will out to his mate Corporal Corry.