Thursday, 21 May 2015

More Anzacs from Lithuania on the Western Front

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).

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:

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 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.

No comments:

Post a Comment