RUSSIAN ANZACS

STATISTICS

 

Extraordinarily, it was men born in the former Russian Empire that constituted the most numerous group in the First Australian Imperial Force, after those of Anglo or Celtic background. The following table shows the numbers in the 1st AIF of overseas-born servicemen from different national groups, including Russians. This table also gives an indication of the relative response made by the different national groups to the call to colours in Australia (by showing the number of servicemen as a proportion of their national group’s total representation in Australia, from residents recorded in the 1911 Census).

Birthplaces of overseas-born servicemen in the 1st AIF

Numbers of overseas-born servicemen

Servicemen as proportion of overseas-born residents

Country of birth

Servicemen

total no.

Residents in Australia (1911)

total no.

Servicemen

%

New Zealand

4237

32,130

13.19%

Russia

966

4,507

21.45%

Canada

723

3,101

23.32%

South Africa

628

3,919

16.02%

India

620

6,700

9.25%

USA

599

6,703

8,94%

Denmark

459

5,729

8.01%

Sweden

387

5,628

6.88%

Norway

284

3,479

8.16%

France

169

2,902

5.82%

Italy

151

6,773

2.23%

Fiji

109

860

12.67%

Netherlands

103

751

13.72%

Malta

93

251

37.05%

Switzerland

84

1,750

4.80%

Belgium

78

340

22.94%

Greece

48

1,883

2.55%

Spain & Gibraltar

31

803

3.86%

 

All Australian residents

 

 

 

 To be added

4,455,005

To be added

 

The numbers of servicemen in this table are based on the number of service record files kept at the National Archives of Australia. There are grounds to believe that the number of these servicemen might be slightly higher as not all files of those who were enlisted in the 1st AIF but discharged before leaving for active service overseas have been preserved.

How many Russian Anzacs?

In the case of Russian born servicemen I have records of at least 60 more men whose files have not been found in the NAA but whose names appear in the monthly returns the Defence ministry compiled for the Russian consulate which requested ‘official lists of all Russian subjects a) accepted b) rejected’, by the Australian army during 1916-1917. Archival files containing this data are:

Russians Enlisted, February 1916 & January 1918 – Returns, Monthly (NAA)

Russians Enlisted for Months of October, November & December (NAA)

Russian Reservists [File containing correspondence, list of Russian reservists and members of the Landstrum, and lists of Russian subjects who were members of the Australian Imperial Force] (AWM)

The total number of Russian born servicemen in the 1st AIF was at least 1026.

Among the 1026 Russians who enlisted at the AIF 805 men (or 78 per cent) served abroad, of those, one in five (or 160 men) died, 5 more died in Australia. (To see the names of fallen use the search engine on the home page and search for the words "memorial panel").

 

There were also some Russian men who were not accepted for active service but who served in the Army  in home service only, some were employed by the Army in Australia or on military transports which delivered troops overseas. List of available names.

 

Over a hundred of Russians applying to enlist in the AIF were rejected. The names of some of these people can be found in the above mentioned monthly returns of the Defence Ministry to the Russian consulate and also the records about their rejection sometimes are mentioned in their naturalisation applications. List of available names.

 

Ethnic composition of Russian Anzacs

Russian-born Anzacs were of diverse ethnic-territorial origins. Their ethnic breakdown is shown in the table and chart below.

 

Ethnic-territorial origin

Enlisted men

 

%

Number

Eastern Slavs (ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians)


25


252

Poles & others (of non-Jewish origin) born in Russian Poland


6


60

People born in the Baltic Provinces (excluding Slavs and Jews, including Germans)


23


234

Finns and other Scandinavians from Finland

29

294

Western Europeans born in Russia or posing as Russian subjects


2


23

Natives of the Caucasus (of non-Slavonic origin) and Tatars


2


19

Jews (including Jews from the Polish and Baltic Provinces)


13


127

     TOTAL

100.00

1009

 

The same data represented in the chart form:

Enlistment by state

 

State Qld NSW Victoria SA WA Tasmania Overseas Total
Number 207 373 169 135 127 13 2 1026

 

 

Enlistment by state and ethnicity

 

 

Enlistment by ethnicity and state

 

 

 

 

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