More about local connections

Today the weather was very sunny and warm, and I were in the terrain of some of those I eralier reported about, those soldiers born in the Perish of Hjälmseryd.

Why not then try to find the farms and maybe the houses the lived in? I went away for a short tour and I found some places.

I started to try to find the small place Slättö, that is mentioned on the casualty card of Andrew M Johnson, Anders Magni Magnusson, who was born in Hjälmseryd, and for some time lived in Slättö, according to some of the information I found in the church books. Next time I will also to get a photo of the Mo Västra farm. Slättö was the place where his father lived after Mo Västra, and is mentioned on the casualty card. You see Mo is mentioned in the church book, at the same line as his birth.

Then I went to the place where Gust E Ahl, John Gustav Edvin, lived. The place was Bodatorp, South of Boda in Hjälmseryds Perish. The picture below shows the house as it looks like today, it seems to be a summer house nowadays. The name “Bodatorp” is mentioned in the top of in one of the pictures below.

The last place I found today was Sevedstorp near Släthult in the same Perish, where John E Johnson lived in when he was born. The house looked like to be a house arranged for to live in more days than just in the summer. We could not find any persons nearby, even if we knocked on the door. I will try to visit the another time, when in the region. You can find the name Sevedstorp in the church book picture.

I will probably not be able to find all the places of those 200 Swedish born soldiers I will map in this project, but hopefully this can be a small story in a greater perspective. It was a great feeling to stand there and realize that those people went to USA for some reason but tragically fell in The Great War. This is my way to try to commemorate them. May they rest in peace.

What is it with Hjälmseryd?

When continuing some research this day about Swedes who fought for the American Expeditionary Forces at the Western Front in the Great War, I discovered yet another individiual born in Hjälmseryds perish, near Lammhult but in Jönköping County, in Sweden.

Looking through the casualty cards from AEF, I discover another Johnson, John Edwin Johansson, born in Hjälmseryds Perish october 28, 1894. His father August Johannes Johansson and his mother Anna Sofia Johnsdotter then living at the farm Sevedstorp west of Hjälmseryd village. On the map below it is near Släthult.

I rekognize the place to be quite near some of the other places that we earlier know from the Swede Gust E Ahl, alias John Gustaf Edvin Ahl, and Andrew M Johnson alias Anders Magni Magnusson. Gust is from the farm Bodatorp and Andrew is from the farm Slättö, and now we also have John from Sevedstorp, north from the other two places.

Before I know the exact place for John, I know from the casualty card that his mother is stated to live in Lilla Mon, Gustav Adolf in Hobo Sweden, which I know as Habo, as I live quite near the place. Some facts at ancestry suggests that John is born in Habo as well, but probably assumed to be from the info on the card. I dont find him in that perish, and I have to look further with help from his father, which I find through info from

In combination with some info from Ancestry I make the conclusion that John is also born i Hjälmseryd, after having checked the information in the Swedish archive Riksarkivet. In Riksarkivet the name states to be Johan Edvin. But when searching further on and find the church book about when he is born, it states that the name is John, not Johan. Very confusing. I get the year 1894 from Riksarkivet when I find all the family members to be the same names as in, which also states october, but it states october 2nd. It turns out to be october 28th. This is a clear point to that information in some archives that has been put in by persons, has to be confirmed now and then, you cant rely on every detail, that is for sure.

When looking in the church book I see a name that I recognize. The name above John Edvin. It turns out to be Gust E Ahl, that is also born in October the same year. Imagine that these two individuals went to USA, not at the same year, but ended up in USA but different states, joined the AEF for some reason, probably for the reason that both of the became American citizens, and ended up to fight in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. It is a bit amazing.

I so want to know if the knew eachother, but right now I dont have the exact facts about when John moved to Älvsborg county. I will try to get more info about that by looking in the church books again, I will find it there.

I know that John lived in Västra Götaland County when he choosed to emigrate to USA, and that he was about six years old at that time, so probably John and Gust didnt know about eachother then, but maybe they met in the Army?

John became naturlized in USA in 1916, and I know from before that Andrew and Gust went to the states in 1913. In the end all three ended up in Meuse-Argonne region and they tragically died in the period between September 28th and October 9th 1918. The distance between the divisions were around 6 km, could have been less or more depending their specific place in the divisions. The distance is assessed to be from the middle of the area where their divisions were. You can find more info by looking in the link “Virtual Tour on Map” in the main menu on this home page.

I live just about 45-50 minutes from the area where all three of these individuals grew up, and I will come back with more information later on. Below you can see those pictures I found about Johns family. Maybe I will find more individuals from Hjälmseryd who went over to USA and became soldiers in the AEF. I will let you know.

Friends from home at the front?

Sometimes when doing research I stumble over facts that I have to look deeper into. I find facts that points to individuals who comes from the same region and seems to have left Sweden at around same time to emigrate to the large country in the West.

It also seems that both of them have enlisted for the American Expeditionary Force and then went to France to participate in the fightings at the Western Front. Later on I find facts about that they participated in the Meuse Argonne offensive and sadly both of them fell in the offensive just 12 days apart of eachother.

This may be quite common for the soldiers from UK, that joined units under the concept of Kitcheners Army, from the same village, the same football team or similar, but when it comes to the Swedes it seems to be quite uncommon, based on the information that I have so far in my research.

These individuals were Gust E Ahl (Johan Gustaf Edvin Ahl) from Boda farm, Hjälmseryd Perish, Jönköping and Andrew M Johnson (Anders Magni Magnusson) from Slättö farm, Hjälmseryds perish, Jönköping. Both of these places is near the village of Lammhult, Kronoberg.

Johan Gustaf Edvin Ahl, Boda, Hjälmseryd, Jönköping.

Both of them were born i Hjälmseryds Perish, Anders in November 4th 1893, and Gustaf in October 19th 1894. They moved around to some other farms in the region, but when they left for the States in 1913, they lived not far from eachother, just under two kilometers in between.

Anders left from his farm March 17 1913 and Gustaf left his farm for America April 28 1913. According to the casualty cards both of them ended up in Minnesota, but right now I dont have any information about if they met eachother at the other side. I know that Gustaf enlisted June 5 1917 and ended up in 139th Inf. 39th Div. when they fought in France. I havent yet found when Anders enlisted, but he later on joined 125th Inf. 32nd Div.

The Meuse Argonne Offensive started September 26 and went on until the Armestice in November 1918.

Gustaf fought near the Argonne Forest and was Killed in Action already September 28 1918, quite early in the offensive. Anders went on with his unit and was Killed in Action October 9th 1918, a bit further up NE in the movement of the offensive.

Both of them are buried at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France.

It is a very special feeling to find these facts from different sources, put the together and look at whole picture and try to imagine how they lived in their region at that time and then went over to a completely unknown world to later fight in the army of their new country. Both paid the ultimate price.

I live around 50 minutes by car from their former farms in Hjälmseryd Perish and I will in near future visit their region and maybe find the houses where they lived, maybe meet people who are connected to those individuals and try to find more information.

Later on I will of course visit their areas where they fell at The Western Front, as I will do with all the Swedish Soldiers that I have in my research. I so long for to commerate them, and highlight their actions in the Swedish History.

May they rest in peace.

Updated Soldiers List

I have now updated the soldiers list which you can find in the main menu. The list shows all the individuals that I am working with so far. (February 18 2021)

Of the total 196 individuals there are at this moment 163 verified to be born in Sweden i e those I have found in the Swedish church books. The other ones are born in Sweden as well, but right now I havent found the correct notes in the church books.

Johan Gustaf Edvin Ahl, Boda, Hjälmseryd, Jönköpings Län. Participated in Meuse Argonne Offensive and fell September 28 1918.

Local connection – John H Erlandson

When I am not working, I spend a lot of time continuing with my study / research on the Swedes who fought on the Western Front in the First World War. As you already know, I limit myself to those who were born in Sweden bySwedish parents, fought and fell on the Western Front and are buried or remembered on the same.

I set a goal for myself some time ago that I would find at least 50 individuals who fought for the American side during the First World War, and at the time of writing I have found these 50 who fall within the above-mentioned criteria, but I have only been able to verify 47 individuals. I will return when I can verify at least 50, ie found the correct excerpt from the church register that shows their birth in Sweden.

During the evening I searched through manual search in the archive cards and found John H Erlandson, who turned out to be Johan Herman Erlandsson, born in 1887 in Jönköping, living in Mariebo, before he emigrated to the USA, to Chicago via Hull in England, and arrived in the USA on 21 June 1910. Jönköping is my home town, and it feels a bit special to know where he lived before he emigrated.

Johan joined the American Expeditionary Force and was sent to France during 1917-1918 and fought in the region around Argonne, France. He took part in the famous Meuse-Argonne offensive and fell in battle on October 10, 1918, previously reported to have fallen on October 14.

I promise to one day walk in his footsteps, and visit the area where he fought with the 33rd Division, which I marked with a red ring on the map, as I visit all the other soldiers’ places I have in my database, which are now beginning to approach 200.
Yes, it will take time, but I have promised to visit their place where they fell, and where they are buried, it is my way of showing them appreciation for the way they contributed to Swedish history. May they rest in peace. Never forgotten.

Down below you can see some snippets from pages about Johan Herman Erlandsson.

Swedes in the Meuse-Argonne offensive

In my aim to study and follow up Swedes who fought and fell at the Western Front I have now looked into those Swedes who emigrated to USA and entered the AEF and was sent to Europe to fight. I have so far found a few of them, and I hav started to put the them out on a Google Earth Map, as I have done with the other Swedish soldiers who fought for the commonwealth countries.

You can read more about it here

The work continues

Some evenings I just look through the facts that I have found in the digital archives, and just putting the pieces together. It is always nice to update my Google Earth Project map with more names and locations, together with some basic facts about thye individuals. Along the way I can now see some pictures emerge. Will write more about them further on.

I have also experienced some situations when I have found individuals, and then trying to verify them through Swedish church books. The two latest I have found in special books, where they were mentioned in special child care locations. Not common, and now two in a short period. I have from those cases become more skilled in searching for facts, so that is a good thing.

Good Conduct Badge and Military Medal

Read more about the Swedish born soldier who fought for a canadian unit at the Western Front, with his wife Edith home in England.

Charles Robert Holmberg was born as Karl Robert Holmberg in Torps Perish in the Swedish landscape of Medelpad. He states in his military papers that he is born 1892, but he is actually born in 1893, the 24th of May. That is very common that the soldiers states the wrong age, which sometimes makes it harder to do the research, but here I find him through his wife Edith, and then find the correct church book that states 1893. As you can see in the Church book, his birth is not stated in chronological order, I find him around september in the book, but he is born in May. You always have to check the whole period when you do your research.

He is raised at the farm “Stormörtsjön” and lives there as a child and he also lives at the farm “Hjältan” before he emigrates to Canada in 1910, about 17 years old.

He is enlisted for the Canadian Army as a former farmer in Winnipeg in 1914, to the 32nd Infantry battalion, and is later transferred to the 23rd Reserve Battalion. February the 22nd 1915 he embarked in Halifax and went to England where he arrives March 6th 1915. He becomes a Lance corporal for the 52nd battalion during his time in England, and during this time he is also promoted to Acting sergeant for the same unit.

He is later transferred to 15th reserve battalion who will go overseas, and are then reverted to Lance corporal again. He leaves for France in April 22nd 1917.

At home he leaves Edith, who he marry February 15th 1916, and she becomes Edith Jane May Holmberg. He is only 23 years old when he is leaving for the battlefield. In France he is attached to the 5th Infantry battalion, which is the battalion he is fighting for until the end.

He behave well in the unit and he receive the Good Conduct Badge in December 16th 1917 (My birthday …) and also becomes promoted again to Sergeant in March 25th 1918, after had been Lance Corporal again after he went overseas.

During August 9th 1918 he is fighting with his unit in the area of Warvillers in France, and during an advancement he went a bit to far, and has to withdraw to his own lines, but are in this situation hit in the heart by a machine gun bullet and dies instantly.

He is awarded the Military Medal the same day.

I always think about the families that the soldiers leave behind, and in this case I wonder how Edith takes the word that she reads, about Karl. Karl is also leaving his father Erik Olof Holmberg and his mother Gertrud Holmberg, back at the farm in Sweden. Their son paid the highest price, and I hereby commemorate him with this little story.

Karl is buried in Hillside Cemetery, Le Quesnel in France.

May he rest in peace.

Soldiers lists – New structure

I have now made it a bit easier to look at the soldiers list, and also made another structure when it comes to read more about the soldiers and their personal portraits. The names are now on one specific page, divided into the differents armies. The portraits are updated continuously.

Experience makes progress

In my research I want to find as much correct information as I can, and connect all the bits and pieces to a picture, that is as much confirmed as is gets.

I have during this year learned a lot about in what places I have to look to find the information, and the more difficult it gets, the more eager I become to really find the last missing piece that makes the picture of the soldier as correct it can be.

One of these things I really want to verify is the soldiers Place of Birth, POB. One source for that is the Swedish “Riksarkivet” which I hold quite high when it comes to reliability. When I have those facts through the correct page from the Church book, I find the case done.

This evening I decided to try again with a soldier that I couldn´t verify before due to the lack of ideas about where to search, and how to search. This soldier was Carl Hjalmar Arring, born in Stockholm according to his registration papers for the Australian Imperial Forces, AIF. He stated a quite strange reference when it came to Next of Kin, NOK, where he stated a friend named Persse, or similar. Not much to go on.

Carl Hjalmar Arring was fighting for the 10th Australian Infantry battalion at the Western Front and fell in the battle of Passchendaele 7th of October 1917. He is commemorated at The Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium, earlier buried at the site where he was fallen, but then never found.

I went to Ancestry and tried to find a person named Arring, with the adress that he had stated in the papers, but I didnt find anything. I tried to search for Arring in the Swedish archives, and even on the web, but no luck.

I decided again to try to go through all “Carl Hjalmar” in Riksarkivet, and then put in the year that he was born, and the search in Stockholm. Luckily it was not many persons named Carl Hjalmar born in 1879. The place of birth and the Date of Birth, I found in the Australian National Archives, NAA, in the naturalisation papers. I assumed that it was the right person, as I also compared with the age he had stated on the on the registration papers. That fact is often wrong, so I have to look for more sources, and the naturalisation papers is then a good source. When it comes to Swedes who went to Australia, I find naturalisation papers in about 50 percent of the cases, and in this case I found it.

Looking through all the Carl Hjalmar in a certain time period, a period when they have counted all the persons in a specific region, I have about 27 to look through. When I look at the 15th or something I see “Arninge” in the file, that states the home village for that Carl Hjalmar.

I then decide to check the church book for Täby parish, and I now have the date and year. Looking in Riksarkivet, page in the church book for the 28th of January, and there he is … Carl Hjalmar Eriksson, born in Stockholm, that specific date.

I dont say it cant be another person called Carl Hjalmar, born at the same date in Stockholm, but this is quite close. Probably he thought it was nice to change from a quite common Swedish name Eriksson, to a name that reminded him of his village “Arninge”, that became “Arring”. In quite many cases before, I have experienced that they change their names, Johan to John, Gustav to Gust etc, when it comes to first names, but not so often the family name.

This new experience I take with me in my future work, in verifying the soldiers, especially when it comes to verify the POB.

Right now I have 127 Swedish soldiers in total in my research, and 104 of those are fully verified. The work goes on.