Once again I am scanning those very interesting digitized old Swedish magazines from North America, and I discover so much interesting information. Suddenly I found a name that I have seen before, but never went further on with, for the reason that he wasn’t born in Sweden.
But the small note in the newspaper states that he was. I decide to look this through again, and after this I can add yet another Swedish born soldier, who fought and fell at the Western Front in the Great War, in to my database.
Below you can read the story about Pvt Louis John Engstrom.
Translation of the Swedish text in English below:
Härjedalen (Landscape in Sweden)
One fallen Härjedal warrior. From the consulate in Montreal, Canada, a message has been received by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that the soldier in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, Louis John Engström from Lovön, Ljungdalen (Sweden), fell between the 2nd and 5th of June, 1916. His mother, the widow Ingrid Olsson in Räcksjön, Sunne (Jämtland), says that her son went to America at the age of nine. By his death he was 18 or 19 years old.
Most of the facts in the newspaper is correct but not all of it. It took a while before I found him in the Swedish archives.
But it is a great feeling when I do find the links which in the end forms the picture around the individual, the Swedish born soldier.
In the Canadian archives, this time from the archive part “circumstances of death”, that is a great source of casualty cards to browse through, I find Louis John Engstram, and in the card I also see his number, which is of help when searching in some other parts of the Canadian archives.
I use his number 117014 and I get his registration form from the archive, in which he states to be born in Canada, in Peterboro, Ontario, Canada. He also mention that he is born in November 15, 1891, and if so, he wasn’t aroud 18 or 19 when he fell, which the newspaper said. I have now some facts to take with me in my search in Swedish archives. It turns out to be hard.
His name Louis is often from the Swedish names Ludvig or Lars, which I know from other cases, and John is often Johan, but there are a lot of people in Sweden with those names, so no luck in the beginning of my search. There is not much in the canadian files either, to use in my upcoming search. I see Sweden is mentioned, so I feel there is a connection.
The best source here is actually his mother’s name, and also the villages, mentioned in the newspaper.
Using mother’s name Ingrid Olsson and the village name, I only find a lot of Ingrid, but not Olsson. I decide to take away Olsson, and only use Ingrid. I receive some hits, and when looking through one of the last ones, I finally find an interesting name, Lars Johan Engström. He is born November 25, 1891, only 10 days after the dates that he mention in his Canadian form. He is mentioned together with an Ingrid. Can it be him? I later on decide to search for Lars Johan alone, and there he is as well, in a foster family.
I can read from the books that Ingrid’s father is unknown, so is also Lars Johan’s father. There is no name of the father in the church book, from when he was born, either.
I don’t know why he states in his registration form for the army, that he is born in Canada, because I found the Application for Homestead, and here he mention that he is from Sweden. He also mention, in the registartion form for the Army, that he is born November 15, instead of November 25, but the reason for that can be that he is quite young when he leave Sweden in 1902, around 11 years old. He is travelling with his foster parent Sven Larsson.
Lars Johan, or Louis John, is connected to 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles and at the time of his death in June 1916, the diary of this unit tells us about that they are fighting in the area south-east of Ypres, Belgium, in the area of Sanctuary Woods and Zillebeke. On the fifth of June the unit is releived and they are heading back to Steenvoorde, on the French side, a few miles west of Poperinge, Belgium.
The documents of Louis John says that he is beleived to have been killed between June 2nd and June 5th, 1916. He is stated as “Missing” in the cards, and then later on beleived to have been killed, at an age of 25. He could have been part of the battle of Mount Sorrel which took place between June 2nd-13th, 1916, where his unit was fighting within North Saskatchewan Regiment.
Lars Johan Engström or Louis John Engstrom is Swede #20 that I have found on the walls of Menin Gate Memorial. I will visit him and commemorate him next time I am in Ypres.
I can’t stop thinking about how many more individauls out there, who also stated that they were born somewhere else when filling in their registration forms. I may find more Swedes, and I will continue to search. Lars Johan is now #414 in my database, over those Swedish born soldiers who fought and fell and are buried at the Western Front in The Great War.
May Lars Johan rest in peace.