Thursday, 21 May 2015

More Anzacs from Lithuania who served on the Western Front and in Australia

Previous posts have covered what we know so far about the ethnic Lithuanians and the Litvaks (Lithuanian Jews) who served for Australia on the Western Front in the First World War.  Here are a few more men with origins in Lithuania who served abroad (Schatkowski and Zander were previously featured in the post on Gallipoli).  Again, with thanks to the National Australian Archives and Elena Govor's Russian Anzacs project (

Anthony JANUSKI/JANONSKOV/JANWSKO was born in Kaunas in 1896 to a Polish family.  He enlisted in Melbourne in July 1916 and served on the Western Front as a private in the 58th Battalion.  He was severely wounded in action in France (June 1918) and returned to Australia in early 1920.

Sigismund ROMASZKIEWICZ was born in Krekenava in 1876  to a Polish/Russian family and arrived in Brisbane from Japan with his wife and children in 1910.  They settled in Brisbane, where he was active in both the Russian and Polish communities.  He enlisted in October 1915 as a 39 year old and served as a driver with the 15th Field Company Engineers, was wounded in action in France in 1917 and medically discharged in Australia in 1918.  He died in Brisbane in 1949.

Militan SCHATKOWSKI (also known as Oldham) enlisted in Liverpool NSW in November 1914. He was born at Plateliai, possibly of Polish and/or German heritage, and had arrived in Australia in 1914 as a seaman having already lived in the British Empire from 1908. He served at Gallipoli as a private in the 2nd Battalion, and later on the Western Front. He ended the war attached to the Australian Red Cross in London 1917-19, where he also married and was naturalised as a British subject before returning to Australia. He took his wife's surname, OLDHAM, and died in Sydney in 1938.   

Emerick SCHIMKOVITCH (also Shimkovitch) was born in Zarasai in 1894 to a Russian or Polish family.  He left Lithuania around 1911, worked as a seaman, and reached Australia in January 1916, enlisting that same month in Melbourne.  Emerick served as a private and corporal in the 22nd Battalion in France and was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in action in August 1918.  He returned to Australia after the war and continued to work as a seaman, based in Victoria.  He worked for a while at the Cape Schank lighthouse, married in 1936 and died in 1951.  The Australian War Memorial's collection includes a group photo of 22nd Battalion's A Company, including Emerick Schimkovitch (click here).

Gerard Martyn SKUGAR, a 22 year old Polish sailor from Vilnius, enlisted in Rockhampton in May 1916. He had arrived in Sydney in February 1914 and then worked at several locations in Queensland (Brisbane, Mt Morgan, Rockhampton, Bundaberg) before enlisting. He served as a private with the 41st Bn in France and was wounded in action in August 1918, repatriated to England and then to Australia in December 1918.  Awarded a Military Medal for bravery in the field, he lived in Queensland after the war and died in Sydney in 1951.

Charles Oscar ZANDER enlisted in Adelaide at the outbreak of war in August 1914. Born near Vilnius, probably of German heritage (his parents were naturalised Russian subjects), he became a seaman and lived for some time in England where he became a naturalised British subject. He arrived at Port Adelaide around 1911 and was a member of the first Australian contingent to depart for the Middle East in November 1914; he served at Gallipoli as a private in the 10th Battalion, and later as a corporal on the Western Front. He married in London while on leave in 1916 but was killed in action in France on 22 August 1916. Charles' service is commemorated at the Australian War Memorial, the Adelaide War Memorial and the Villers-Brettoneux memorial in France.

This brings to a close this list of Anzacs with Lithuanian connections who served overseas.  It has largely mirrored the list created by Elena Govor on her Russian Anzacs website, with only a few added details of the individuals concerned.  Nevertheless, over time the list may be expanded as others are discovered hidden in the official records:
About 65,000 men [from Australia, in World War I] used an alias or at least an incomplete name, or saw service with an Allied entity (Lieutenant Colonel Neil C Smith, That Elusive Digger: tracing your Australian military ancestors, Unlock the Past, 2013)

Some men enlisted but were not sent overseas, for example:

Thomas DAMELIONOK, born in 1888 in Vilnius, had arrived in Australia in April 1914 with his wife and children and enlisted for home service in Melbourne in August 1916, but was discharged at the end of that year as his services were no longer required.

William KOSLOVSKY, born in 1882 in Joniškis, arrived in Brisbane in 1912 and enlisted at Rockhampton in November 1915 but was discharged in August 1916 as medically unfit.

Antonio SAMSON, born in 1873 in Kurkliai, arrived in Sydney in June 1917 and enlisted in November of that year. He was 44 years old and a solid labourer, 6 foot tall and 212 lb in weight, but after less than 2 months at the Engineer Depot in Moore Park, Sydney, was dischaged as 'unlikely to become an efficient soldier'.

Anton SUTKIS, born in 1890 at the village of Sutkai, near Šakiai, arrived in Australia as a sailor in 1912, worked as a miner near Sydney and enlisted at Liverpool NSW in January 1916.  Sadly Anton/Antanas did not even see much depot service as he died in August 1916 of pulmonary tuberculosis.

Bronislau KETOVICH/KRETOVITCH, born in 1889 in Vilnius, probably to a Polish/Russian family, arrived in Brisbane in 1911 from Harbin, China, leaving behind a wife, Vida.  He was employed as an engine fitter in Brisbane and Melbourne where he enlisted in June 1916, but 2 weeks later was discharged as medically unfit.

Others were sent overseas but were soon found unsuitable for active service:

Adolph Conrad CANTOR, born in 1876 in Žagarė, had resided in the USA from 1889 and arrived in Australia in 1902. He was a draper and lived at Devonport, Tasmania, then Hamilton and Warnambool in Victoria before enlisting at Warnambool at the age of 39. Sent overseas as a private with the 14th Bn he was discharged in London after a year's service as medically unfit.

Peter SREBEL, born in 1870 in Vilnius, arrived in Brisbane in March 1914 with his wife and child. He enlisted as a 44 year old the next year and was sent overseas as a private with the 25th Bn but only reached Fremantle before being sent back and discharged as medically unfit. Peter continued to work around Queensland for the next several years but returned to Lithuania in 1921.

Samuel SEUFF, born to a Jewish family in 1888 in Šiauliai, first enlisted in January 1915 but was discharged after only a few days. He enlisted again in December 1916 and was sent overseas in early 1917 as a private with the 45th Bn only to be returned to Australia almost immediately and discharged in June 1917 as medically unfit. 

Still others decided to cut short their military service for other reasons:

Joseph BUDREWICZ, born in Radviliškis in 1892, arrived at Darwin in 1915 and enlisted in Perth in June 1916; however by the end of September 1916 he was listed as a deserter.

Phillip JAFFE, born in Kaunas in 1894, had served in the South African Army before arriving in Australia in 1915.  He enlisted at Holdsworthy NSW in August 1915 but by December of that year was listed as a deserter.

Next week's post will attempt to summarise the 'Lithuanian Anzac' experience, at least from the Australian perspective.  No one, as far as I know, has researched any New Zealand/Lithuanian Anzac connections.

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