Leoshkevitch, Ruland, Levy, Chepurnoff, Gorkoon

December 9, 2015

Favst Leoshkevitch

  • Favst Leoshkevitch was born in Sokulka, on the territory of present day Poland, in the family of Russian colonel Pavel Leoshkevich. He studied in the Warsaw Cadet Corps and was fluent in French and Russian. His aspiration was to be a navigator, and in 1914, when he was just seventeen, he joined the sailing ship Gunda in Libava, which brought him and his Russian friends to Geelong in January 1915.Four of them joined the AIF.
  • Leoshkevitch served with the 24th Battalion on the Western Front, learning English from his mates. He was gassed twice, in March 1918, in Ploegsteert, and in August 1918, near Rouen.
  • After the war he settled in Melbourne working as a tram motorman. He married an Australian girl, Pauline Catherine Oakes, and raised a family. His son Leon preserved numerous yarns about his father’s life.

James Ruland

  • James Ruland, a seaman from Revel (Tallinn) in Estonia – although he also claimed to be born in Finland – came to Fremantle in November 1915 and enlisted a few days later.
  • He served in the 3rd Tunneling Company as a sapper on the Western Front and was gassed in October 1918.
  • While recovering in London, he married an English woman, Elsie Louisa Wykes, giving his name to her son Lawrence, who later served in the 2nd AIF. Their son James died in 1919 soon after birth and in 1920 they sailed to Australia with little Lawrence. They lived in Toodyay, Perth, and Kalgoorlie, where James worked as a boarding-house keeper and a cook. During WWII he joined the AIF and worked in the Aircraft Depot.

Arthur Levy

  • Arthur Levy, a Jewish man from Kovno (Kaunas), came to Australia most likely in the late nineteenth century. He worked as a salesman and commercial traveller in Sydney.
  • Enlisting in the AIF, he served in the 13th Battalion on the Western Front; in February 1917 he received a gunshot wound to his right arm and was repatriated to Australia.
  • After the war he lived in Sydney.

Dmitry Chepurnoff

  • Dmitry Chepurnoff was born in Andreevka near Penza in Russia and came to Australia in 1914 via the Russian Far East, landing in Cairns. He gave his occupation in Russia as a clerk and had to work as a labourer in Queensland and Northern Territory.
  • Enlisting in the AIF in Melbourne, he served with the 46th Battalion on the Western Front. In September 1916 he was wounded in the back at Mouquet Farm. Recovering in England, he returned to the trenches in January 1917 and was wounded a week later in the left arm and repatriated to Australia.
  • In March 1918 he left for Russia and returned to his village, where his mother was waiting for him. In 1937 he was arrested by the NKVD for ‘Anti-Soviet activities’ and sentenced to three years imprisonment. In 1941 he was arrested once again, in Alma-Ata, and executed.

William Danieloff Gorkoon

  • William Danieloff Gorkoon was born in Fedorovka in Samara Province. He served in the Russian artillery for two years and came to Western Australia in 1912, probably as a seaman. He worked there as a sleeper cutter.
  • Enlisting in the AIF, he arrived with the 51st Battalion on the Western Front in July 1916. He had several conflicts with his NCO, left his battalion, was caught and court martialled. A few days afterwards, in September 1916, he was killed at Mouquet Farm.
  • The authorities tried to contact William’s father in Fedorovka after his death, but most likely did not succeed.