Kusmin, Rodionoff, Tupicoff, Caplan

July 9, 2016

Peter Kusmin

  • Peter Kusmin, whose real name was Samuel Zadorohney, was born in Kiev in Ukraine. He came to Australia in 1913 from the Russian Far East. He worked as a miner in the Newcastle area.
  • He served with the 2nd Tunneling Company on the Western Front. In March 1917 he was severely wounded to the face with a fracture of the lower jaw.
  • While recovering in England he married an English widow with two children, Mabel Louisa Kneller. Mabel was awaiting their child when Kusmin was rapidly returned to Australia, because the authorities intercepted his letter full of anticapitalist and antiwar propaganda. Kusmin never returned to his English family. He stayed in Sydney, becoming a waterside worker.

Nicholas Rodionoff

  • Nicholas Rodionoff, a Russian from either Perm or Tomsk in Siberia, came to Australia from the Far East in 1912, leaving behind his wife. He first worked in Port Pirie, but then moved to Newcastle, working as a carpenter.
  • He enlisted together with Kusmin and later was allocated to the 3rd Tunneling Company on the Western Front. In April 1918 he was gassed; in October 1918 he received accidental gunshot wounds to his hip and right arm.
  • Upon returning to Australia he worked as a coal miner in Kurri Kurri.

Nicholas Tupicoff

  • Nicholas Tupicoff was born in Perekopnoe in the Samara area. His family moved to Harbin, where he studied at the Commercial High School and worked as a Chinese interpreter. He could speak Chinese, Russian, German, Polish and English. In 1912, aged nineteen, he came to Australia and worked as a labourer. His younger brother Alexis joined him in 1914.
  • Nicholas enlisted in the AIF in December 1915 in Rockhampton, but was discharged three months later as medically unfit. Reenlisting in June 1916 in Brisbane he served with the 47th and 49th battalions on the Western Front. While on the front he suffered of synovitis knee and received a gunshot to the right hand in August 1918.
  • Returning to Australia he married Alexandra Muller, a girl from Samara. They took land in the Coominya Soldiers settlement, but later had to give it up and settled in Ipswich, where Nicholas found employment as a striker. They had a large family with six children. Nicholas’ brother Alexis, severely wounded at the front, joined them after the war.

Joe Caplan

  • Joe Caplan, a Jewish man from Kovno (now Kaunas in Lithuania), went to Manchester in the UK when he was fourteen. In 1912 he moved to Australia to join his cousin Morris Gordon. He worked for him as a commercial traveller, but later found employment as a ship steward.
  • He served with the 19th Battalion on the Western Front, attaining the rank of temporary corporal.
  • After the war he worked as a steward in the Hawkesbury Agricultural College in Richmond.