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Berger, Fisher, Jacobson, Belkind, Brutton

John William Berger

  • John William Berger, a Latvian fireman from Riga, came to Melborne in 1912 if we are to believe his naturalisation. According to Victoria deserted seamen records he deserted from the Beltana in October 1915.
  • He enlisted in the AIF as John Birger in Brisbane, first served in the reserve and then with the 25th Battalion on the Western Front.
  • After the war he married Australian girl,Beryl May Stokes, and lived in Brisbane working as a labourer. Later he lived in Sydney, working as a glass silverer and ironworker.

Henry Fisher

  • Henry Fisher, another seaman from Riga, came to Melbourne in 1887 and after several years in Sydney and Queensland settled in Port Pirie. He married a local girl, Elizabeth. By the time of his enlistment in the AIF he was a widower with three teenage sons.
  • He reduced his age, was accepted in the AIF and came to the Western Front with the 27th Battalion. He got sick there and was returned to Australia as ‘over age’ (he was 56 at that time).
  • After the war he lived in Port Pirie, working as a stevedore.

John Alfred Jacobson

  • John Alfred Jacobson, a Finnish ship’s carpenter from Vyborg, had an adventurous life before he landed in Australia. He was once shipwrecked, remaining for six days in the sea until he was rescued and taken to an English hospital.
  • He enlisted in the AIF at Werris Creek as Alfred Nelson. In March 1916 he left his camp on leave, spent all his money while drinking and, unable to return to the camp, went to Sydney and enlisted in the AIF there under his true name. In June the story repeated: he got stuck while drinking with his friends in Newcastle when he was arrested as an absentee and his two identities were blended into one. He ended up with a short detention and was discharged as medically unfit (he had osteoarthritis caused by the exposure during his shipwreck).

Ishai Belkind

  • Ishai Belkind, enlisting in the AIF, stated that he was born in Vilna (Vilnius) in Lithuania, but according to the Rishon Le Zion family history website, his parents were among the founders of the Rishon Le Zion agricultural settlement in Palestine and he was born there. His father was from Belarus and mother from Poland. In 1913 Ishai came to Western Australia and stating his occupation as a gardener and orchadist.
  • Enlisting in the AIF, he served with the 7th Field Company Engineers on the Western Front.
  • In 1919 he received a permit to travel to Palestine, and eventually returned to his family in Rishon Le Zion. In 1921, during the Arab uprising, he became a mounted policeman. Later he worked as an agricultural expert and film mechanic.

Ernest Otto Brutton

  • Ernest Otto Brutton, a seaman from Luban near Riga, was of German-Lettish origin. He came to Australia in October 1915 and enlisted soon afterwards.
  • He served as a gunner in the Field Artillery batteries on the Western Front. In October 1917 he was severely gassed at Passchendaele and returned to Australia as medically unfit.
  • After the war he worked as an electrician, farmer, canecutter and wharf labourer. In 1925 he married an Australian girl, Ada Rose Frost, and lived with his family in North Queensland.