Nicholson, Puss, Jurgenson, Nylund, Ollgren

July 17, 2015

Robert Nicholson

  • Robert Nicholson, born as Boris Poselnikoff in Odessa, was a son of a Russian colonel. When his parents died he took to sea, landing in Newcastle in 1912 as a sailor aboard a Russian sailing ship; at that time he was just 22. Staying in Newcastle, he worked on fishing boats for 2 months, then spent 4 months in the inner areas of New South Wales working on the farms. Returning to the coast, he signed up as a sailor on a German ship to Hamburg, returning to Sydney 9 months later. After that he decided to try his luck in Melbourne, where he found a scaffolding job – his skill of working with the sails turned out to be useful on shore as well. Then followed a new contract on a German ship to London. In May 1914 he returned to Melbourne and continued with his scaffolding job there. Obviously finding that his long Russian surname was difficult for foreigners to pronounce, he changed his name to Robert Nicholson.
  • Enlisting in the AIF, he served as a gunner with the artillery detachments on the Western Front. While being ill in an English hospital, he met a local girl, Bertha Henrietta Grabert, and married just on the eve of the Armistice.
  • After the war they stayed in the UK, where Nicholson naturalised, but later on he returned to Australia and served in the garrison battalion in Queensland during WWII.

Jack Puss

  • Jack Puss, an Estonian seaman and carpenter from Oesel (Saaremaa) Island, before coming to South Australia, worked on German ships.
  • Enlisting in the AIF, he served with the 32nd Battalion on the Western Front. He fell under suspiction of pro-Germanism and was immediately discharged without trial and considered ineligible for medals.
  • After his discharge he sailed to America.

Peter Jurgenson

  • Peter Jurgenson, an Estonian seaman from Dago (Hiiumaa) Island, came to Western Australia in 1911 as a sailor and ‘walked off’ the ship, as his son tells. He started farming at Wokalup area in Western Australia.
  • Enlisting in the AIF, he served with the 32nd Battalion on the Western Front. In July 1916 he had severe shell shock at the Sugarloaf Battle and became partly blind. He was repatriated to Australia.
  • After the war he married an Australian girl, Isabela Florence Sim, and had a family, farming and building at Wokalup.

Charles Nylund

  • Charles Nylund from Abo in Finland was a cook by trade.
  • Enlising in the AIF in Sydney, he served in the artillery detachments on the Western Front. In August 1917 he was wounded in the thigh, but recovered and returned to the trenches. In January 1918 he was court martialled for a conflict with an officer, and sentenced to 5 years of penal servitude. The sentence was quashed and he ended up in hospital as mentally sick and was repatriated to Australia.
  • In 1921 his mother Hedvig Nylund, who believed that he was killed, tried to find information through military authorities, but their attempts to trace Nylund’s fate after his return to Australia failed.

Arthur Arvid Ollgren

  • Arthur Arvid Ollgren, a seaman from Tammerfors (Tampere) in Finland, came to Australia in 1910. Here he worked on coastal ships.
  • He served in the Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train as a driver,being stationed in Egypt.
  • Upon demobilization in Melburne he married an Australian girl, Vera Pearl Teasdale, and settled first in Port Melbourne and then in Adelaide, working as a seaman.