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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This was one of my hardest tracing tasks I have done so far. No one is forcing me, but I can never give up when I find a trace. For my research this is one of the key factors. OK, then we begin …
I am trying to verify the birth of Eric Olson, 11th Canadian battery, who died at the Western Front 4th of September 1918, in the area of the village Saudemont, after have been injured in his hands and legs. He is buried at Queant Road Cemetery, west of the postion he fell.
Finally I found him, and could verify his birth in Lit Perish, Östersund, Sweden in 1897, not 1896, that he states in his military documents. He is born to the name Nils Erik Nilsson by his mother Kristina Eriksdotter, born 1865 and his father Nils Ohlsson born 1857.
I also found the probable reason for his new name. His mother became a widow in Östersund, after her husbands death, and then met Peter Olof Olsén, and he was born 1873. Peter and Kristina are married in April 1901, and they become Peter Olof Olsen and Christina Olsen.
Peter worked 6 years at the Swedish Jämtland Ranger Regiment, in a medical unit as an ambulance driver.
Peter took his family to the United States in 1903, and in 1908 they became citizens in Canada.
Peter and Christina had three kids. The oldest son was Olof Nilsson, who became Georg (!) Olsen. Then Eric Olsen was born, as mentioned above, in 1897, and finally William Olsen, which was born in 1903 to the name of Paulus Wilhelm Olsen, All their sons were born in Sweden. Are you with me so far?
The following research reveals that Peter Olof Olsen served as Peter Olaf Olsen initially in the 54th Infantry battalion in October 1915 and was then transferred to the 2nd Forestry Coy, before he went back to Canada again in 1919.
His Oldest son, George Olson was attached to the Canadian Engineer Reinforcement troops in Canadian Expeditionary Forces in September 1918, but he never went over to France, and the unit later demobilized in April 1919, and he was then discharged.
The mid son, as we now know as Eric Olson, went over to France and the Western Front in December 1915, and was taken on strength in France in May 1916, and finally fell at The Western Front the 4th of September 1918. May he rest in peace.
I will develop this little story later on, but the small thing that cought my eye and finally solved the story, making it possible to verify that Eric was born in Sweden, was these words: “1060 Richmond Avenue, Victoria, B.C” (British Columbia, Canada), they all wrote this on their military documents, regarding “Next of Kin”. With those Words I could find Christina at that adress, and then trace the rest of the family back to Sweden.
I hope the mother Christina finally could breath out a bit in her life, even if the loss of one son, never heals. Luckily she did not loose more members of the family. Down here you can take a look of some of the info that I found on the way.
Three Swedes from three different places in Sweden end up at the same place on the Western Front in July-August 1916. All three fall in the battles.
John Anderson from Stockholm was born in 1872 probably as the person Johan Axel Erik Wilhelm Andersson by the factory worker Anna Andersson. For some unknown reason, John ends up by his foster parents in Australia and then signs for the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) in August 1915.
Ernest (Ernst) Fogelström was born in Gothenburg in 1887 in Karl Johan’s parish and grew up with his father Oscar Fogelström on Karl Johansgatan 43 in Gothenburg. He applied for Australian citizenship in 1913 and then signed for AIF in April 1915.
Egbert Swansson (Swensson) was born on Öland in 1877 in Vickleby parish and grew up with Nils Gustaf and Sofia Swensson. As a sailor he went to Australia and signed up for AIF in August 1915.
These three individuals fight in the Battle of Pozieres, Somme, France, which takes place July 23 to September 3, 1916, where Fogelström falls in the battles on July 26th, Anderson falls on August 15th and Swansson falls the day after August 16th, 1916.
These three fight for three different units, the 3rd, 13th and 20th Infantry Battalions. These three are not found after the battles or are buried in places that are then destroyed during upcoming battles and therefore have no grave of their own.
These three Swedes are now named on the walls of the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France. Maybe they knew about each other, we will never know. May they rest in peace.
In my research for Swedish born soldiers who fell at the Western Front in The Great War, I sometimes come across individuals with some remarkable history, and in this case with Swedish connections. In this case though, he survived.
Richard Scott Carrick was born in Gothenburg, Sweden October 11th 1878. His UK born father Robert Carrick was working in Sweden at that time, and he was later on settled in Gävle, Sweden.
Right now I don’t have any information about when he emigrated to Australia, but he joined the Australian Imperial Forces in 1915, at an age around 37, and it is also stated in his application that he has served in the UK for Nothhumberland Fusiliers in 3 months, and then was discharged by his own will. He probably went to Australia after that. Later on he went to Europe, via Alexandria in Egypt, to participate in the The Great War and ended up in the war theatre in France in June 1916 as a 2/lt and the bacame Lt in the field in July 1916.
In September 22nd 1916 he became injured from a Gun Shot Wound and was evacuated. He reported himself back for duty in March 24th 1917, and then served with 4th Field Engineers. He was temporarliy promoted to Captain in field May 2nd 1917, but later in June there is a note about that he has relinguished that temporary promotion to Captain.But in July 18th 1917 he becomes promoted to Captain again.
But before this period the diary states an remarkable note. In April 7th 1918 he is specially mentioned in Gen. Haig Despatch probably because of his acting in the field and in the fightings.
His father must have been mighty proud of his son at this point.
Later in 1917 Richard is fighting with his unit in the area of Corbie, France, during the battle of Hamel, and in July 4th 1918, he manage to do some remarkable actions in the field and for that he is later on awarded the Military Cross. In the picture below you can see the withdrawal from the diary at that point, and also specified in a specific letter.
The interesting part of this specific battle, Battle of Le Hamel, was that the AIF was cooperating with the forces of the American Expeditionary Forces, AEF, and the battle was fought with combined arms in a trench warfare situation.
In August 9th 1918 Robert Scott Carrick is awarded the Military Cross for his actions of 4th of July 1918. And he is also awarded two oak leaves to put on his Military Cross to show that he was mentioned in the Despatch of Gen. Haig April 7th 1918.
He survives the war and Richard is later on granted a leave to Sweden to be able to visit his relatives and he stays in Sweden for about six months, between 2nd of February to 2nd of August 1919. He goes back to Australia not later than 3rd of August 1919.
The archives then states that he emigrates to United States from Australia in 1925, and then emigrates to Canada in 1927, but he yet again applies for American Citizenship in 1931, and are later settled down in California, and he dies at an age of 93, and he is buried at the Hanford Cemetery, Kings County, California.
Imagine what an experience, to travel around the world in these times, performing in The Great War, be mentioned by Gen. Haig in a specific Despatch, and the awarded The Military Cross.
To read about this is one of the reasons that I am so interested in to follow up individuals with connection to Sweden that has participated in The Great War, even if this person didnt fell at the Western Front.
Smålanders on the Battlefield during the First World War, on the Western Front. Did their paths cross during the war?
We will never know, but what I know right now is that Lieutenant Willy Höglund belonging to Småland’s Hussars, fought with German Royal Infantry Rgt No 347 during 1917-1918 in the area around Roisel in France. Willy dies from his shrapnel wounds July 1, 1918, after have been wounded 16th of June same year. Willy is buried in the Montcornet region, France
Corporal Otto Mauritz Wilhelm Armfelt, born in Hunnerstad, Höreda parish, Eksjö, Sweden, served at the same regiment, Smålands Husarregemente (Småland’s Hussars) in 1916, and went to Canada in 1917, and then served in France with 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles and tragically fell 5 days before the armistice on 6 November 1918, together with his comrade Olof Lundmark from Lögdeå, Nordmaling, Sweden.
On the battlefield, not far from the area where Willy Höglund falls, William Lovegrove Champernowne, born in Nässjö, Småland, Sweden, also fights for the 2nd Australian Infantry Battalion, but he is killed in action later than Höglund, on 18 September 1918.
Three “Smålanders” with completely different fates in completely different armies, dedicate their lives to their units, in the First World War, and fall on the Western Front. I honor them through this post, and attach some pictures, excerpts from church books and from my own compilations. May they rest in peace.