Reuben Laman Rosenfield was born in Raiseinai in Lithuania in 1872, but before the early 1880s his family moved to Simferopol in Crimea, where his younger siblings were born. In 1888 the family with six young children came to Melbourne. To make a living, 16 year old Ruben was trained as a saddler, but in the evenings he attended classes in the Working-man’s College. This allowed him to finally enrol into the University of Melbourne to study medicine, becoming one of the first natives of the Russian Empire to have a university education in Australia. Graduating from the university he worked as a medical practitioner (an eye and ear specialist) in Whitecliff, NSW, and Melbourne.
Enlisting in the AIF, he served in the Australian Medical Corps, attaining rank of Major. During the first service in 1915-1916 he worked in hospitals in Egypt. Being reappointed in 1917 he served in Britain.
After the war he continued his medical practice in Melbourne. His notes about his work during the war are preserved in the Australian War Memorial.
Atolf Aleksanter Aalto was born in Nystad (Uusikaupunki) in Finland and came to Australia in 1912 as a sailor together with John Lindman from Nystad. They worked as miners in Nar Nar Goon and Eaglehawk in Gippsland, Victoria.
In June 1915 they applied for naturalization and in July enlisted in the AIF together in Bendigo. They came to the Western Front with the reinforcements for the 5th Battalion. In June 1918 during the battle near Strazeele Aalto showed bravery by protecting his platoon’s flank with a Lewis gun until, ‘having fired 600 rounds his gun was red hot and stopped’, as wrote his commanding officer. He was awarded the Military Medal.
After the war Aalto seems to disappear from Australian records. Considering that his medals were returned to the Military authorities in 1923, he might have died or left Australia.
John Lindman came to Australia together with Aalto and in his case it is known that he deserted the ship.
Serving in the AIF together with Aalto on the Western Front Lindman was wounded in the hand in July 1916 at Pozieres. The second time he was wounded at Ypres in September 1917, this time in the foot and arm.
After the war he worked as a waterside worker living in Melbourne, where he married Edith Lidia Ford and had a family.
Hyman Broon, a Jewish man from Kherson in Ukraine, was a tailor by trade.
Enlisting in the AIF in Sydney in July 1915, he was discharged in April 1916, being convicted for theft. In July 1917 he enlisted for the second time, as Brwon; by that time he was working as a kitchen-man in Melbourne. While sick in hospital he developed delusions of persecution and attempted suicide. By that time he was in his 40s and was discharged on medical grounds.
He disappears from Australian records after the war; he probably left for Egypt to reunite with his wife Lieba, who was stranded there during the war.