Who were they, actually?

Most of the time my research about the Swedish born soldiers is going quite smooth, reading and using the facts that are stated in the papers. The facts from the different papers and documents that I find in the archives often gives me the correct data which I later can verify in the Swedish archives and church books.

But sometimes I find some names in documents, together with facts that points me in the direction of Sweden, not regions or villages in other countries called “Sweden”, but to the actual country of Sweden, which I can´t confirm in any Swedish documents like church books or other archive files.

This makes me curious. It doesnt mean that they are not there, but so far I haven’t been able to confirm some of them. Maybe some of you out there who reads this can bring some more light to the stories.

Below you will find three of the individuals that I am struggeling with for the moment, with some thoughts or reasons of my own, why I cant find them.

Oscar Osk

In the Canadian Military attestation papers it says that Oscar is born in Scona, Sweden, which probably is the landscape of Skåne in Sweden. I can also read that he served three years in the Swedish Army, which means that he left quite late from Sweden as the Swedish Conscript age at that was 21. His father is named as Ola Osk on the front page, but later in the documents I find that his father is specified as Ola Martenson, which is Ola Mårtensson. There is also an address to where his father lived in Sweden, when this information was added.

When I search for the address in the Swedish church books, I find Ola Mårtensson at the correct address. When I do this, I also find the date of birth of Ola Mårtensson, which can lead me to other periods, which can show if there has been an individual called Oscar connected to Ola Mårtensson, with the specified date of birth, Marsch 7, 1890.

I searched with different combinations, like excluding surname, changing the date of birth, but there is no Oscar connected to Ola Mårtensson in the Swedish church books.

There are surnames in Sweden like Osk, Ask and similar, but not even this have solved the case. I will try to search within more combinations, but so far the mystery about Oscar Osk is unsolved. That doesn’t take away what this individual went through.

Maybe Oskar didn’t want to use his real name, or did he had other reasons not to use his real name? I can imagine that not everone had a totally honest life. Or did the Canadian authorities looked for his next of Kin, and then just found an “Ole” or “Ola” in Sweden? Probably not, as it is a quite common name, and I still think Ola Mårtensson was his father.

Oscar fought for the 28th Canadian Infantry battalion when he was dangerously wounded and later died of his wounds August 24, 1917. He is buried at BARLIN COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION in France. Whoever you are, Oskar, rest in peace Lest we forget.

Olaf Olson

Olaf is also not yet confirmed in Swedish Church books and here are some fatcs about him from different digital sources.

From the Canadian attestation papers I find that he is noted to be born in Sweden. There is no village or town specified, but the next of Kin is his mother Mary Olsen. There are some canadian addresses connected to Mary like Midman Avenue in Winnipeg, Manitoba, but also East Street, Winnipeg Manitoba.

Olaf is according to the papers born in January 29, 1897, and is quite young when he sign his papers in 1916. He will become 19 same year, in 1916. When

Olaf can be Olof in Swedish and his name is changed from Olsen to Olson with a pencil on the document, and in the CWGC archive he is named Olaf Olson. It is easy to think that he could be born in Norway as it is quite common with nemes and surnames like Olaf and Olsen, but I haven’t looked into any Norweigian archives.

His mother Mary can Also be Maria in Swedish, or some other common name like Marie, Ann-Marie or similar.

As I haven’t found any more information about any Mary, with a son called Olaf, in some Canadian archives, I can’t find any data that can help me to search for any information in the Swedish Church books. Maybe I will find some more information later on.

In the papers there are some information about his period in 90th Winnipeg Rifle Bugle Band, maybe that can be a source of finding more information that can lead me to more facts about Olaf. I find Olaf quite young on the photo below and I assume that if he emigrated from Sweden he probably did that when he was young.

Olaf belonged to 144th Battalion, Winnipeg Rifles but was fighting for 8th Canadian Infantry battalion CEF when he was reported wounded and later on Missing. He was later on declared to have been killed August 15, 1917. Olaf has no known grave and are commemorated with his name at Vimy Memorial in France. May he rest in peace.

William Matheson

When it comes to find more information about William Matheson, who was, according to the Canadain Attestation papers, born in Sweden May 16, 1888, it was a bit more positive than the other two mentioned above.

But still I haven’t found the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to confirm his birth in the Swedish Church books of birth.

William also, as Olaf above, belonged to the 144th Canadian battalion, Winnipeg Rifles, and he also signed his papers in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which he did in December 22, 1915.

I tried to search for him in the Swedish Church books using his date of birth, and also tried other versions of names. William is almost in every case a change from the Swedish/German name of Wilhelm, and that is what I try to search for. I also use the stated place of birth which in this case is Kalix, quite far up north in Sweden.

I find him in the Swedish archive of Arkiv Digital, a very nice database portal that have connection to a large amount of archive files. Here he is noted to be Mattias Vilhelm Mattsson.

On this page he is mentioned alone, and not connected to any family of his. His profession is notes as “arbetare”, worker in english. The place mentioned on the top of the page is Axelsvik, not far away from Kalix. The book also mention the parish in which he is born, and it says Nederkalix. On the same row, to the right, it is mentioned that his parents are from Finland.

This could be the correct facts, but I cant find the confirmation of birth in the other Church books. I have tried with some other combinations when it comes to date of birth, but no result.

When I do a search for him on google I find a nice page from Canada, that commemorates those individuals from Kenora, earlier known as Rat Portage, in Ontario, Canada, who fought in the Great War.

Information from that page mention that his father, Matts Mattsson, was from Finland, which confirms the notes in The Swedish Church books. The page also mention that his mother, Anna Eriksdotter Nygärd, was born in Råneå, close to Kalix, in Sweden. It is also mentioned that his mother had another son from another period, Erik August, born in 1874, which I can confirm in the Swedish Church Books.

But Nygärd seems to be Nygren according to the notes. Her first son is born outside a marriage, not good in these times, and the notes below also tells us that Williams mother later on met his father, Matts Mattson, from Finland.

In this moment I can’t confirm that William Matheson was born in Sweden, even if parts of the Church book says that. I will continue to look for him.

William Matheson fought for the 52nd Canadian Infantry battalion and was killed in action, by GSW in legs and face, August 8, 1918. He is buried at HOURGES ORCHARD CEMETERY, DOMART-SUR-LA-LUCE in France. May he rest in peace.

For the moment I still have 24 unconfirmed Swedish born soldiers in my research, of 443 soldiers in total. I will continue to try to confirm those, as I really want to find all the details about those individuals who paid the ultimate price out there on the Battlefield.

Lest we forget.

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