August 18, 2016
John August Pankoff
- John August Pankoff from Libava (Liepaja) in Latvia left Russia in his youth as a sailor travelling all over the world. He came to Australia on a sailing ship in 1913 and continued working in Australian waters.
- With the 8th and 5th Machine Gun companies he served on the Western Front where he was affected by gas poisoning.
- After his discharge from the Army he worked on the ships on the north-east coast of the USA, returning to Australia in 1925. He married an Australian girl, Jane Christine Jorgenson, and lived with his family in Ipswich working as a millwright assistant. During WWII he served in the Volunteer Defence Corps.
- Peter Sterletsky, a Russian from Tobolsk in Siberia, came to Brisbane in 1912 and worked as a labourer on the construction of railways.
- He served with the 26th Battalion on the Western Front, being gassed in November 1917, at Passchendaele.
- After the war he married an Australian girl, Isabella Esther Stephens, and worked as a railway ganger.
- Leo Gordon, a Jewish man from Girtagola (Girkalnis) in Lithuania, came to Adelaide in South Australia in 1908 and worked in Broken Hill as a storekeeper and hotel useful. In 1911 he married a Jewish girl, Annie Griff, but she died in 1915.
- He served with the 18th Battalion on the Western Front, being severely wounded in the back and arm in May 1917, at Bullecourt. Recovering, he continued his service until he was wounded in the leg in October 1918 during the final attack on the Hindenburg Line.
- After the war he lived in Sydney, marrying Rebecca Symonds. In the 1930s they moved to Broken Hill, where Leo worked as a salesman.
- John Rohdy was born in Russia, but did not provide the place of his birth. He studied in a school in America, coming to Australia in 1906, and lived in Newcastle and Brisbane, working as a wharf labourer. He married an Australian girl, Cecelia Cox, and had a daughter.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney as an American citizen, he served with the 1st Battalion on the Western Front. In May 1917 he was wounded in the right arm at Bullecourt and returned to Australia.
- After the war he lived with his family in Brisbane working as a labourer, later moving to Sydney and then to Narrabeen, where he worked as a watchman.
August 4, 2016
- Frank Norman, a Finnish seaman from Kristinestad, was working in Broken Hill by the time of his enlistment in the AIF.
- He served with the 37th Battalion on the Western Front, later being transferred to the 3rd Division Salvage Company. In April 1917 he broke his leg in an accident and was returned to Australia.
- After the was he lived in Bowden and Port Pirie in South Australia.
George Herman Koty
- George Herman Koty, a Jewish man born in Kiev, emigrated to New York with his family in 1906. He came to Australia as a seaman and enlisted in the AIF in Adelaide.
- He served with the 40th Battalion on the Western Front. In January 1917, at Armentieres, he was wounded in the neck, but, recovering, returned to the front. In April 1918, at Dernancourt, he was wounded once again in the arm and in August 1918, at the beginning of the final advance, in the leg.
- After his discharge from the AIF in Australia he returned to the USA. He married, and worked in the dyeing and cleaning business.
- Harry Sadagoursky, a Jewish man from Odessa, migrated with his family to Palestine as a child. In 1912 Harry and his family moved to Perth.
- Harry made his first attempt to enlist in August 1914 when he was just seventeen, but was rejected because of ‘under chest measurement’. The second time he enlisted was in July 1916, but he was discharged several months later as being underage. He made one more attempt to enlist a year later, but was rejected because of eye problems.
- After the war he worked as a carter, later moving to Melbourne where he married Sadie Leon and became a master fruiterer at the Victoria, Prahran and Dandenong markets.
Ivan Vasilivich Kirilloff
- Ivan Vasilivich Kirilloff, a Russian from Rostov-on-Don, came to Australia in 1911 from the Russian Far East with his wife Klavdia and daughter Evgenia. They settled in Ipswich, where he worked as a turner in the railway workshops.
- Enlisting in the AIF in Brisbane, he got ill with rheumatism and was discharged three months later.
- After the war he lived in Injune, managing a store. Retiring, he moved to Brisbane, and took a trip with his family to the USA and England in 1929.
July 20, 2016
- Vladimir Alexseff, born in Vladivostok, came to Australia in 1911 from Africa as a seaman and worked on coastal ships.
- According to his statement, he enlisted in the AIF at the beginning of the war and served for six months; later he was engaged on the transport vessel taking troops to Gallipoli (these records have not been found). In July 1916 he applied for enlistment in the AIF once again but was rejected as medically unfit because of defective vision.
- In 1915 he married an Australian girl, Myra Alison Burwood-Baldry, and had a son. They lived in Sydney where Vladimir worked as a fitter and turner. He got sick with TB and, in spite of medical treatment in Switzerland, died in 1932.
At least 35 Russian born Anzacs participated in the attack on the Sugar-loaf salient (near Fromelles) on 19 July 1916. They were mostly Finns and men from the Baltic Provinces. Initially, the Australians were successful in driving the Germans out of their trenches right across the line, but at night the situation changed; finally, lacking in support from their British counterparts and with insufficient artillery support, the Australians had to withdraw, having suffered horrific casualties, amounting to 5533 men. The Russian losses were ten: five wounded; three killed; and two men taken prisoner, Andreas Voitkun from Latvia (also wounded) and Wolf Dorfman, from Rovno in Ukraine. The wounded were Peter Jurgenson, Edward Tomson, and George Reise from Estonia, William Stauwer from Latvia, and George Diaconescu from Romania, who enlisted as a Russian subject.
The three killed were Boris Soans from Estonia and Arthur John Savolainen from Finland, both former seamen, and Gershun Harbert, a Polish Jew. Harbert, a former tailor, had fallen sick on Gallipoli; then in Egypt, when his division made its infamous three-day march across the desert in full kit, he suffered heat-stroke. Despite his poor health he went to the Western Front, where he lasted only a few days. During the attack his 15th Brigade was in the worst position and had to cross the widest part of no-man’s-land under the German tempest of fire. Harbert found his end somewhere there among its ditches and furrows. He was reported ‘missing in action’. We shall never know what made him join the AIF, probably devotion to his new homeland. A human grain of sand, doing his bit …