The attack commenced at 6.20 a.m. on a very cold morning while it was still dark. Throughout the whole action there was the most severe fighting. The Battalion however reached its first objective and after a pause for reorganization the two Companies on the right who alone had a second objective, pushed on and won this line too. All Companies had by this time been through fighting of the severest nature and had suffered very heavy losses. The Germans had however suffered still greater losses, losing some 600 prisoners to the Battalion, and leaving a very large number of dead on the field.
This text is from the diary of 1st battalion, Coldstream Guards, the day of November 27th, 1917, when they fought from a front between the northern part of the village of Fontaine, and the north-eastern part of the Bourlon Wood. You can see the area below on the map. The map is a snapshot from the very good map product from Great War Digital.
On this place, the day of November 27, 1917, the soldier Charles Gustaf Nordberg fell, and he is commemorated at the Cambrai Memorial, in Luoverval, between the village of Bapaume and the town of Cambrai in France. Charles Gustaf doesn’t have his own grave as he most likely dissapeared in the fierce fightings this day. So, who was Charles Gustaf?
Charles Gustaf Nordberg was born in April 1893, in South Shields , Durham, England. He was borught up by his mother Kristina Karlsdotter Sköld and his father Erik Johan Johansson Nordberg.
Both parents of Gustaf was born in Sweden. The father of Gustaf, Erik Johan, was born in Fägre parish, east of the the city of Mariestad and southeast of the town of Töreboda in the county of Västra Götaland, in November 9th, 1849. This county is often mentioned in english as “West Jutland” but has nothing to do with Jutland in Denmark. The reason is probably more connected to how it sounds when pronounced in English.
The parents of Charles Gustaf, Kristina and Erik.
Gustaf’s mother, Kristina Karlsdotter Sköld, was born as a daughter to Karl, that’s why her surname is Karlsdotter, “Karls daughter” She was born in the parish of Ekeskog, just southeast of Fägre, where Erik Johan was born. At this moment I don’t know if the knew eachother back then. According to the Swedish church books, Kristina left Sweden in late July 1881. and married Erik Johan Nordberg already in August 22nd, 1881, in England.
eniro.selantmäteriet.seArkiv DigitalArkiv Digital
Erik Johan was a sailor, and it is noted in the Swedish church books that he left for England around 1873, as the note says 1888, and that he has been in England for about 15 years, since then.
Together they got Charles Gustaf Nordberg, who grew up together with his father when his mother Kristina died in England already in 1907. Charles Gustaf is mentioned in his father’s Naturalisation Papers when he was 16 years old, but I don’t know when his father became an English citizen.
Charles Gustaf Nordberg was only 24 years old when he was killed in action, that day in November, 1917. His name is on the Cambrai Memorial, and I will try to visit him when I am down in France this summer. Even if I don’t know where he is today, I will remember him, as one of the children to Swedish born citizens who one day in their life decided to move to England, and in this way put this story into the context of Swedes in the Great War.
Swedes who fought on the German side in the Great War were not many. We know from before, from some books by Swedish historians that it is assessed that around 40-60 Swedes chose to fight for the German side in WW1, and I have not find any facts that says anything else. When I read articles from newspapers from the period back in 1914-1918, it is mentioned that around 40-50 Swedes chose to join the French foreign legion in this period. 16 of those are mentioned to have fallen in the War.
I know from before that those 16 soldiers are mentioned at the board at the Swedish church in Paris, but I know also that some of those have their own headstones in French war cemeteries in France, but I haven’t had the time or opportunity until now to visit them.
When it comes to those Swedes who fought for the German side, I have only had the opportunity to visit one of them, Markus Grundberg at Menen Soldatenfriedhof in Menen, West Flandern in Belgium.
So, my main goal is to visit all the around 470 names that I have in my WW1 project, and during May 29th and June 1st I will fly to Paris and then head up to Pèronne and from there visit some of those I haven’t visited before, but also concentrate on those who fought for Germany and France.
Some of the names are mentioned in the church chapel in the Swedish Military Academy Carlberg, where they were educated to officers. In this case it will be Harry Patrik Hilding Carlsson, who fell March 23, 1918, and are buried at Viry-Noureuil German Military Cemetery. I have already visited Johan Erik Markus Grundberg who is buried at Menen Soldatenfriedhof in Belgium. Sadly Willy Höglund doesn’t have any known burial place, as he was moved from Montcornet Cemetery in France already in 1919, to a new site not known for now.
Below you will find the full list of those I will visit and the dates when I will do it.
29th of May
Villers Cotterets National Cemetery – Conrad Sjöberg – French Foreign Legion
Necropole Nationale Royallieu – Rudolf Petersen – French Foreign Legion
Viry Noureuli German Military Cemetery – Harry Carlsson – German Forces
Manicourt German War Cemetery – Olof Hedengren – German Forces
Hotel I Pèronne – Best Western Hotell St Claude.
30th of May
Peronne Communal Cemetery – Carl Sundqwist – Australian Imperial Forces
Herbercourt British Cemetery – John Leonard Petersen – Australian Imperial Forces
Dompierre French National Cemetery – Ivar Svensson och Erich Agne Göthlin – FrenchForeign Legion
Marcelcave Cemetery – Ivan Lönnberg – French Foreign Legion
Crucifix Corner Cemetery – Edmund Petrus Hilmer Eriksson – French Foreign Legion
Adelaide Cemetery Villers Bretonneux – Ernest Ohlson – Australian Imperial Forces
Villers Bretonneux Memorial – visit 15 Swedes – Australian Imperial Forces
Back to hotel i Pèronne.
31st of May
Tincourt New British Cemetery – William Sandberg – Australian Imperial Forces
Roisel Communal Cemetery – William Lovegrove – Australian Imperial Forces
Unicorn Cemetery – George Bernhard Bergdahl – British Forces
Selvigny German Military Cemetery – Hans Ahlmann – German Forces
1st of June I will try to visit the Swedish church in Paris, with the Swedish names on the wall.
If you happens to be in the area those days described above, please don’t hesitate to contact me, it is always nice to meet up on the battlefield!
Below some of the Swedes I will visit, who fought on the German side.
Harry CarlssonMarkus GrundbergWilly Höglund (No known grave)Olof Hedengren (Photo from “Militär Historia”)
Below some of the Swedes I will visit, who fought in the French Foreign Legion.
Ivan LönnbergIvar SvenssonGustaf Wirén (Will not visit him this time)
This is one more step to my goal, to visit all of the Swedes that I have in my project, it will be an honor to one day have visited them all. May they rest in peace.
The plans started late 2021. I got a question from a friend, if it would be possible to make a historical trip down to Belgium and France, based on my project. I got the task to make some kind of draft for a program which spanned between 4-7 days.
Later on, in summer 2022, we met up again, and draw the basic line for the upcoming trip, which we decided should take part in spring 2023.
We decided to make a four day trip, based on areas between Ypres and Arras-Cambrai-Iwuy.
I thought we would have around 15-20 participants, but later on turned out to be 35 individuals all along. In february 2023 I was able to have a talk about my research, and in that weekend I mentioned the upcoming trip, and many of the participants also took part of that talk, which was a really good start for them, and for me.
The day came, March 31st, when we gathered from different airports in Sweden, down to Zaventem i Brussels, Belgium. All flights were in time, first step cleared, and all the participants were there! Great start!
My basic outline of the 4-day schedule contained a track as follows, and was a geographical schedule, more than a chronological.
Ypres-Lys offensive 1918 – Swedes in American Expeditionary Forces. (AEF)
Palingbeek – fights in the Bluff 1916.
Ypres – Swedes at Menin Gate Memorial and Last Post ceremony.
Messines Ridge – Swedes in the June 7-8 fightings 1917.
Passchendaele – Swedish Australians, New Zeelanders and Swedish Canadians in the fightings late 1917.
Sanctuary Wood – Swedes in the battle of Mount Sorrel 1916.
Vimy Ridge – Swedish Canadians in and about April 9, 1917, and Swedes at Vimy Ridge Memorial, not forgetting the Swedish memorial sign on the Maroccoan Memorial west of the large Canadian memorial, commemorating the Swedes in the French Foreign Legion.
100-days offensive – Swedish Canadians late 1918 from Arras to Iwuy.
In addition to the places mentioned above, we also visited a lot of cemeteries connected to the different sites, where Swedes are buried and commemorated. We also went through some WW2 actions around Arras, when in the area.
The weather was really bad the first two days, but we managed to survive, and the last days we actually saw and felt some sun!
All in all, I am very pleased about the result, and I have a really good feeling after my first trip as a guide, and of course I want to do this more times! It was reaaly fun and I picked up a few lessons learned for the future!
Always a bonus as well to meet some of the persons that I follow on Twitter, to finally see them in real life! Nice to meet you Jon Wort and Bart Debeer!
Thank you very much to my companion and veteran in organizing historical trips, Jan Ågren at Historic Travels who made all the logistical arrangements, such as coach and flights, and thank you very much to all the participants who made this trip possible!
When do we do our next trip?
Next part of following in the footsteps of the Swedes will preliminary take part in April 2025, where we will go down in the area between Somme and Argonne in France, to follow the Swedes who fought for the Americans.
Looking very much forward to that! And if anyone wants a Swede on their own tours, adding some fates of Swedish born soldiers in the WW1, just let me know! 🙂
Below some photos from the trip, with a mix of authors, participating in the trip.
“On the following day these units continued their advance to the road running from Sivry-sur-Meuse to the Villeneuve Farm, but at dusk a powerful attack delivered against their right flank forced a retirement to the Tranchee du Cable just south of the Bois de Chaume, Reinforcements were immediately despatched across the river and by an attack on the morning of October 10th regained all ground lost, which was subsequently held notwithstanding that the right flank remained exposed for four days.”
(Brief Histories of Divisions, U.S. Army 1917- 1918.)
“The following day” mentioned above was October 9th, 1918. One day later John H Erlandson was killed in action, and before the fightings was over in the specific area, also Elof H Johnson was killed.
We don’t know if John and Elof knew eachother, but it is highly likely that they did. They fought in two different companies in the 131st Infantry Regiment, 33rd Division, in the American Expeditionary forces, when they finally met their destinies in the Argonne area in France during fearceful fightings against the enemy.
They ended up in the same field cemetery before they were moved to their final resting place, the American Meuse-Argonne Cemetery.
But they were not the only Swedish born soldiers in that field cemetery.
AEF Resources MapWikipedia
John H Erlandson, or Johan Herman Erlandson, which was his name when he lived in Sweden, was born in November 27, 1887, in my home town of Jönköping, in the western part of the town. He was raised by his mother Eva Mathilda Ring and his father Johan Peter Erlandson.
Some of Johans siblings had moved to North America before him, and Johan followed in their path June 11th, 1910. It looks like Johans mother Mathilda died already in 1903, but his father died later in 1938. Johan mentioned his brother Axel Birger Erlandson as his next of kin in his papers.
Johan signed his draft June 5th, 1917 in Chicago, Illinois, and it was also here he lived before he went on training with his unit. The 33rd Divison was organized in Fort Logan, Texas, in July 1917, and Johans unit, 131st Infantry Regiment, went in under the 66th Brigade.
Elof H Johnson
Elof H Johnson, or Frans Hjalmar Elof Johannesson as he was called in Sweden, was born October 24th, 1891 in Pjätteryd parish, quite close to the town of Älmhult. (Most famous to be the founder city of the Swedish furniture company IKEA).
Älmhult and Jönköping is not far from eachother, around 130 km, but at that time the travel between those two cities could be quite long. Elof is also mentioned as Olof or Elaf in some documents, which makes it a bit tricky when trying to find information in digital archives.
He was raised by his mother Sara Kristina Salomonsdotter and his fatherJohannes Jonasson. Elof went to North America in 1911, and it looks like that he was the only one in the family that moved to the large country in the west. Elof signed his draft in June 5th, 1917, also in Chicago, Illinois, and maybe John and Elof met eachother in this situation?
Elof and John went over to France with their units, John with company M, and Elof with company L, on the same ship, LEVIATHAN, in May 2nd, 1918. The first units from the 33rd Division went over in May 1918, and the last units reached France in June, 1918.
The 33rd Division trained together with the Brits near the town of Abbeville. In September they acted as the right flank of the 57th French Division.
During October the 33rd Division constructed bridges over the Meuse in quite exposed circumstances under heavy shelling.
On October 10th, John was exposed for heavy shelling and these are the words from 1st Sgt O’Keefe, Company M:
“Pvt. Erlandson was killed instantly by the concussion of a shell. It occurred on the morning of Oct. 14, 1918. We were at that time in the trenches, in rear of Consenvoye, France. He was preparing his breakfast at the time.”
It was assumed that John was killed during October 14th, but was later changed to October 10th, according to the information on the casualty card.
There is no known information about how Elof was killed, but both John and Elof was buried in the same field cemetery. John was buried October 16th, but there is no info when Elof was buried. John was disinterred April 21st, 1919, the day before Elof. Both were moved to the American Meuse-Argonne Cemetery, buried on the dates mentioned above.
On the same day as John was disinterred, thare were also another Swedish born soldier disinterred from the same field cemetery. He was John A Dahlgren, or Johan Alfred Dahlgren as he was called in Sweden, born in Hällsjö parish in Jämtlands county., September 28, 1888.
He left Sweden with his family at an age of 2, and lived in Minnesota, in Kanabec county. John Dahlgren was killed in action on the same day as Elof, when fighting for the 129th Infantry Regiment, and buried in the same field cemetery as both John and Elof.
He was shipped backed to the US and are now buried in Kanabec county in Minnesota. You can find his name in the cemetery plan mentioned in the beginning of this post.
AEF Resources Mapfindmygrave
There are a lot more Scandinavian traces all over the Argonne area, and it will be so exciting to finally visit the area this summer.
May the soldiers Erlandson, Johnson and Dahlgren rest in peace.
These are a few of many Swedish soldiers who fell in this part of the Western Front and I will do what I can to mention their stories, of how they gave their lives for their new country in the First World War.
Normally I do all my research through archives to trying to confirm the Swedish born soldiers history, that it fits my criterias in my project, but sometimes I also get information, from friends around the world, that is really interesting to look up, even if it is not connected to the project.
In this case I got some information from my friend from England, Warren Smith, (Twitter profile @wampasmudge). He had recieved some information about a soldiers with a Swedish name who died in the Gallipoli campaign in 1915, and later on mentioned with his name on the memorial in Lone Pine Cemetery in Turkey. Swen was born in Australia, but I decided to look up his story anyway.
The soldier is Swen Addvin Sandstrom. Probably his name was Sven Edvin Sandstrom, or maybe Sundstrom. Then it was probably written as Swen Addvin Sandstrom to suit the english language. His father’s surname in Australia was Sandstrom though.
I decided to try to do some research about Swen’s ancestries, to see what I could find.
Swen Addvin Sandstrom – AncestryAncestry
I found out through Australian archives that his father was Roland Sandstrom, and with those facts I tried to find more about Roland. I found out that Roland, as many of those Swedes who emigrated to Australia, was a sailor.
Through his application papers for Naturalization I found out that he arrived to Australia in 1863, from Greenwick, Scotland. He disembarked in Sydney, Australia.
He does this application in 1907, and states that he is 65 years old at this time. I also find that he says that he is born in November 25, 1841, in Charlshamn in Sweden, which could be Karlshamn.
Roland Sandstrom – NAANAANAA
I decided to search for a person called Roland Sandstrom (Sandström) in Sweden, born at the date he mentioned in his papers. First search results in zero hits. I decide to search just for Roland with the date of birth and I find a Roland Magnusson, Magnusson after his father Magnus, (Magnus’s son) born in Asarum, not far away from Karlshamn. Could Roland Magnusson be Roland Sandstrom? There is no more Roland born at the specified date. I haven’t found any information about when and why Roland changed his surname to Sandstrom, if Roland Magnusson is the correct Roland, that is.
In the Swedish church books I also find out that This Roland Magnusson is mentioned as sailor.
Arkiv DigitalArkiv Digital
Roland is mentioned in the book of absent and there is no note about when he left Sweden, which is quite common when is comes to sailors. Probably the left port on some missions, and then they just decided to continue their lives somewhere else. In this case Roland went to Australia.
If we looking in Swen’s papers we can see that he had a wife called Lena, and a brother called Malcolm. Roland stated in his papers that he had five kids. Roland also had two wives, but I don’t know if he had all his five kids with one or two wives. Swen was, as we know, born in Australia, and he registrered for Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) in September 1914.
There is not much information in his papers about when he went to Gallipoli, but it is mentioned that he was killed in Action in May 2nd, 1915. Swen was quite old when he signed his registration papers, he had an age of 34, born in 1880, around May 1880, by his mother Harriet Anna Duncan, later on Sandstrom, when married to Roland in 1871.
Below a snippet from the unit diary, the 16th Infantry Battalion, May 2nd, 1915.
Swen was also active in South Africa, probably in the Boer War in a period of one year and five months, in two different units.
Swen’s father Roland seems to have been in trouble with the law enforcement. I have found some documents that he was sentenced to two year hard labour after have been accused to have inflicted bodily harm, probably to his second wife, Victoria Hanna Sandstrom. If I understand this correctly he was also sentenced to not longer be able to live with his wife, Victoria Hannah Sandstrom.
It is sad to read about those fates.
Below I have saved some snippets from Ancestry about his sentence.
I haven’t yet been able to search more information about Swen’s mother, but I will later on try to find more about her.
When it comes to Lena Sandstrom, Swen’s wife, there are some text about her conversations with the government regarding her husband and his service in the AIF.
First up is a letter that was printed in the Australian Newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald:
“THE CENSOR. “TO THE EDITOR OF THE HERALD.
“Sir, — Today I received a letter that was written and posted to me on February 6, 1915. This letter should have reached me yesterday morning, but was not delivered until this afternoon. The reason I find was because it had to be put back to be passed by the censor. Now, this letter was posted in Picton by my sister-in-law. I want to know why my letters should have to be put through the Censor. We are not German. My husband is Australian born, of a Swedish father and an Australian mother. If the Censor knows anything about different nations he ought to know all Stroms are Swedes. My husband, Sergeant S. A. Sandstrom, E Company, 16 B.H., 4th Brigade, A. E. Force, is in Egypt fighting for England and the Empire, and was in South Africa under Colonel Lassetter for two years. I consider it a great insult to my husband and myself and child to be treated as if we were one of the enemy. Why should other people in the same house receive their letters without the brand “Passed by the Censor” while my letters are kept back and read? I have given my husband up for his country only to be insulted. I, as a Briton, resent such treatment. What is in a name. I am, etc. “S. A. SANDSTROM.”
The Sydney Morning Herald’ (New South Wales), 13th February 1915.
(The text above was handed to me through my contact Warren Smith)
The letter is about the reactions from Lena about censoring of letters by the Military Authorities which was made to ensure the letters did not contained any secret information. As far as I know this was made for military purposes, but Lena seemed to have thought it was connected to her husband Swedish surname.
Please be free to correct me in this if anyone know more about the specific situation, or the subject regarding censoring of the letters from the soldiers in the war.
Below there is also one snippet from Lena, when she is trying to sort out where the belongings of here late Swen husband are.
Swen’s wife Lena seems to have died of the raging influenza at the time, and there are a lot of conversations from the military trying to search for her to hand over Swen’s war medals.
Finally they seem to have established contact with Swen’s brother Malcolm to sort out these matters.
Imagine what kind of information you can find in the digital archives just through some information about a soldiers with Swedish roots.
Thank you very much Warren, for the information that made me look deeper in to Swen’s fate and history.
In my search for more Swedish born soldiers who are buried and commemorated at the Western Front, after have been fighting in the Great War, I have found seven more individuals. They will be remembered here and in my research database.
My method this time, to find these soldiers, was to manually go through the Americian Burial site, American Battle Monument Commission, ABMC.
I looked through the Scandinavian names, after had put in a filter, that only present those who are missing in action, and with my earlier experience, I could sort out those I thought were Swedish. I have earlier searched through those who has a casualty card, and I have found out that those who are missing in action doesn’t have a casualty card. That is the reason for filtering out those who are missing, as I already have the other Swedes, who have their own grave.
Most of the times I had right in my thoughts, but I also found quite many born in Norway and in Finland, or in Russia, that Finland belonged to back then.
It resulted in the finding of seven more individuals, but I can of course not rule out that it is more out there in those lists.
Below I will present the Swedes found in my latest search, together with some basic facts and documents.
Andrew C Carlson – Anders Kaleb Karlsson – Born December 7, 1887 in Landa parish in Hallands county. Andrew left Sweden in 1913 for North America. Andrew catched the Spanish Flu on the transport over to the battlefields in France, died and are buried in the Atlantic Ocean.
Andrew to the right
A. A Erickson – Axel Albert Erickson – Axel Albert Eriksson – Born February 17, 1892 in Vika parish in Dalarna county. Axel left Sweden in 1912 for North America. Axel fought for 2nd Infantry Machine Gun Battalion, 1st Divison, and was killed in the second battle of the Marne in France, July 21, 1918. Axel is on the Tablets of the Missing at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery In France.
Carl Goldstrand – Karl Eriksson – Born February 10, 1891, in Karlanda parish in Värmland county. Carl was called “Kulle Kalle” back home in Sweden. I have no facts about when or why he changed his surname to Guldstrand or in english, Goldstrand. Carl also probably died on the transport over to France, October 27, 1918, and is probably buried in the Atlantic Ocean. He belonged to the American Engineers. His name is on the Tablets of the missing at Suresnes American Cemetery, in Paris, France.
Carl to the left
T. J Goranson – Theophil Joseph Goranson – Born September 11, 1885, in Ljungby parish, Kronoberg county, Småland. Theophil left Sweden with whole of his family in 1889. He grew up in the State of Montana. He left US for the battlefields in France with his unit 2nd American Engineers, 2nd Division. Theophil fought heavily under a huge German barrage and was wiped out together with his platoon, among other platoons. He was never found. He is noted on the Tablets of the missing at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France.
Esaias E Hagstrom – Esaias Eriksson Hagstrom – Born May 1st, 1893, also in Karlanda parish, Värmland county. Esaias left Sweden for North America in 1912. He probably moved in by his sister Mathilda, who left Sweden a couple of years earlier then him. I assume he used the surname Hagstrom after his sister’s husband after has looked on his census documents from North America. Esaias went over to the battlefields in France with his unit, American Infantry, 111th regiment, 28th Division. I havent found any connection to Goldstrand mentioned above, also surname Eriksson from parish of Karlanda. I will come back if I do. Esaias was killed in August 12, 1918, but was never found and is noted on the Tablets of the Missing at Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in France.
Folke Peterson – Folke Pettersson – Born April 22, 1889, in Edsele parish, Västernorrlands county, Ångermanland. Folke left Sweden for North America in 1909 and lived in Kansas. Folke went over to France with his unit, the American Engineers, 6th Regiment, 3rd Division in December 1917. Folke was a cook and he is noted to have been killed in March 28, 1918, together with another Swedish engineer, also in my database, Carl A Woline, an Engineer in the 1st Division. Folke is mentioned on the Tablets of the Missing at Somme American cemetery, France.
Carl J S Seaburg – Carl Johan Samuel Sjöberg – Born in December 3rd, 1886, in Hedvig Eleonora parish in Stockholm, Uppland. Carl left Sweden for North America in 1904, and lived in Gloster, Mississippi. Carl and his family seems to have changed their surname from Sjöberg to Seaburg already in Sweden which is quite interesting. Carl went to France from the port in Montreal, Canada, in October 4, 1918, with his unit, American Infantry, 150 regiment, 28 Division. Carl died of Pneumonia October 11th, and are probably buried at Sea, in the Atlantic Ocean, on his way to France. He is noted on the Tablets of the Missing in Suresnes American Cemetery in Paris, France.
The plan is to visit all of those 267 Swedish soldiers who fought for the American Expeditionary Forces on my trip to France this summer. They are all gathered in 6 cemeteries. May all of them rest in peace. Never Forgotten.
As you know I am doing a research about those Swedish born soldiers who fought and fell at the Western Front in the Great War. Sometimes I open the door to look up those Swedish born soldiers who fell in the Second World War, just because I find it interesting but also to see if there are things to compare between these two groups, such as reasons, emigration and other things.
I have plans to also try to find if any family members of those soldiers who fell in the Great War, fell in the Second World War, but that will be another story.
If you search in some archives you sometimes have to try different alternatives. One way, in this case, is to start to search using the word “Sweden”, but that only works if the word is present somewhere in the text connected to the documents in the database. Often you get results connected to addresses in other countries instead of place of birth for the soldiers.
I will give you an example.
I was looking through the Canadian archive and found 511 inputs related to the word “Sweden” in the database containing military data regarding WW1, and 3 hits related to WW2. I have already, through my research, looked into those hits connected to WW1.
The individuals I find have the word “Sweden” somewhere in the description.
I decided to use another method by searching through a common Swedish surname like “Bergman” and then I get a hit on Carl Alfred Bergman, who I decide to check up on Ancestry. He is not born in Sweden but may have relatives connected to Sweden.
In the picture below you will see the name Bergman, but under his name I see a “Bergquist”. I haven’t seen Bergquist when searching in the Canadian Archive using the word “Sweden”, but will search for “Bergquist” instead.
I made a search for Bergquist and I found Bertil Wilfred Bergquist. That name looks Swedish and I decided to search for him on Ancestry, and there I found out that he is born in Sweden!
What does this mean? It means that you can’t give up when searching through some archives, you have to try different ways and methods.
Below I will tell you the story about Bertil.
Bertil Wilfred Bergquist was born in Sweden September 12, 1921 in the parish of Loshult in Skåne, and was raised by his mother Valborg Evelina Nilsson and his father Olof Wilhelm Bergquist. Bertil’s Swedish full name is actually Bertil Walfrid Bergquist, but he decided to change Walfrid to Wilfred, for some reason.
His father Wilhelm left Sweden for Canada in September 1923, and Bertil left later with his mother in May, 1924, giving some time to his father Wilhelm to create a Homestead in Cadillac, Quebec, Canada, before rest of the family arrived. Probably Bertil’s sister Greta Annalisa joined Bertil and his mother.
Arkiv DigitalArkiv DigitalAncestry
If you look closely in the document to the left you will see the location in Sweden, “Svinön, Kräbbleboda” where they lived before leaving Sweden. You also see the location of “Svinön” on top in the document in the middle.
Bertil was recruited in North Bay in Ontario, and it is interesting to read the notes from the interview, which you can find in the image to the left below.
Unfortunately Bertil lost his life during a mission over Germany a night in February 25, 1944. You can read about the situation through the documents below, and you can also see that he bacame a pilot officer February 23rd, and received his Operational wings for Gallantry after his death, which the family received through a letter with information in 1946.
Bertil and some other crew members was buried at the crash site in Germany, but Bertil is now buried in the final resting place in the village of Durnbach in the southern part of Germany. In the documents below you can read the inscription in German, from the burial site in Germany.
Bertil was one of many flight crew who lost their life at a very young age, and I am really trying to understand how it must have been inside the plane when getting hit, but not having the possibility to bail or do a controlled crash landing.
Sometimes a movie with photos and text can bring a lot when it comes to understand a subject. In this case I decided to do a short video about those Swedes who fought and fell for the French Foreign legion in the Great War. I also chose to include some of the other Swedes who participated and survived.
You can find the video in the website area to the right. Thank you for watching.
There are so many things I want to know when reading about certain individuals who I come across when I do my research about those Swedish born soldiers who fought in the Great War.
In this case I look into Axel Herman Larson’s eyes, in his photo, and wonder how he experienced his last days in a German prison, where he died in Dysentery, a day in November, 1918.
Axel H Larson (Axel Herman Larsson), was born in Sweden October 4th, 1891, in the parish of Södra Vi, in Kalmar county. He was raised by his mother Hulda Karolina Augustdotter and his father Lars Magnus Larsson.
He grew up at the farm of Brunnstorp, in the area of Hoppeskogen, in Södra Vi, together with his 4 other siblings, his brother Carl, and his sisters Emmy Sofia, Gerda Charlotta and Anna Karolina.
Axel decided, reason unknown, to move to North America, and left Sweden September 2nd, 1910, with the Ship “Calypso”, via Hull in England. He arrived around 1910, and probably settled down in Red Oak, Montgomery, Iowa. I can’t confirm this with any census documents but will try to look for them later on.
Axel was drafted on 5th of June, 1917, and joined the Company I, 7th Infantry regiment, 3rd Division, in the American Expeditionary Forces.
I haven’t found any documents about when he left North America for France, and it is hard to find any documents about when he was taken prison, but I know he ended up up as a Prisoner of War. Axel Herman Larson died as a prisoner of War and was buried in Germany, near the town of Worms in the SE part of Germany, on a cemetery in the part of Hochheim.
He is declared dead in some German documents, which mention his birthplace as Gullringen, which is quite close to Södra Vi in Kalmar county, Sweden. In the American casualty cards his brother Carl Larson (Karl August Larsson) is mentioned as his Next of Kin. Carl left Sweden for North America in August 15th, 1912, and I assume the lived together in Red Oak, Iowa. In the American casualty cards it is also mentioned that Axel died of Dysentery.
Axel is transported from France to North America between October 14th to October 25th, 1921. Oscar Wenstrand, who was born in North America, received Axels remains in November 1st, 1921. Oscar Wenstrand lived in Red Oak, Montgomery, Iowa, and I assume it was in this Red Oak Axel and his brother Carl lived as well. At this moment I don’t know how Axel and Oscar was connected.
In the Swedish-American Newspapers It is mentioned that he is reported in American documents to be a Prisoner of War in September 24, 1918, right before the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. it is also mentioned that Axel was transported back from Germany to France, as a released prisoner, which can make you believe that he was released alive, but I think the newspaper didn’t had all the information about Axels situation on tha specific date. In March 1919 it is finally reported that he died in prison, and that he fell in German hands alive.
As you know by now this site is commemorating those Swedish born soldiers who fought, fell in The Great war and are buried at the Western Front. At this moment I have 455 soldiers in my database within those criterias, which I have followed up with documents about the soldiers.
But it was so many more Swedish born soldiers who actually fought and fell at the Western Front, but are buried either in Sweden, North America, Canada, and in the UK.
At this day, November 11th, the Armastice Day, I have decided to include those soldiers as well in my research. I hope you will find it interesting to continue to follow me on my journey.
Below I will tell you the story about Oscar B Nelson, or Oskar Bernhard Nilsson born in Sweden, April 15th, 1880.
Oscar was born in the Village of Knäred, at the farm of Parken, in the county of Halland, Sweden, and raised by his mother Ingegerd Johansdotter and his father Jakob Nilsson, together with his siblings Carl Edward, Johan Leander and Anton Walfrid.
When Oscar was around 10 years old the family emigrated from Sweden to North America November 4th, 1890. They settled down in Wapello, Iowa, and from the census document you can read that their names changed, as they often did, when the Swedes went over to the states.
Arkiv DigitalArkiv Digital
Jacob kept his name while Ingegerd became Ingrid, Carl Edward became Edward, Johan Leander became John and Anton Walfrid became Otto. I find it interesting, and it gives me also som information for future research when it comes to searching after individuals, especially those who emigrated to North America.
When it comes to Oscars period when he was drafted, I haven’t found his Draft document, but he left US for France from New York City with the S.S BALTIO, White Star Line, November 23rd, 1917. At that time his rank was 2.nd Lt. His family and Next Of Kin lived in Ottumwa in Wapello county in Iowa.
Oscar belonged to 168th Infantry Regiment, 42nd Division, the Rainbow Division, American Expeditionary Forces.
At the date of his death, October 16th, 1918, his unit was fighting in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, and below you will find a snippet from the diary of 42nd Division. Oscar was severely wounded in action at LaTuilerie Farm, in France, and died from wounds.
His casualty card says that his rank was 1st Lt, but he was promoted to Captain while on active duty.
US National ArchivesUS National Archives
For his actions he was posthumously decorated by King Albert I, of Belgium, in the “Order of the Crown,” or “Chevalier de I’Ordre de la Couronne,” with rank of Chevalier, in recognition of heroic service. He was also decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross (D.S.C) by General Pershing. In the image to the right, below, you can read more about why he received these decorations.
His body was disinterred July 23rd, 1921, and was transported to Iowa September 16, 1921. Oscar is now buried Ottumwa Cemetery in Wapello county in Iowa. May Oscar rest in peace.