The 2nd Canadian Infantry Battalion is organized at Valcartier Camp in accordance with Camp Order 241 of September 2nd, 1914. They embarked from Quebec City October 3, 1914 aboard on SS CASSANDRA and disembarked in England October 25, 1914. Onboard there were 44 officers and 1083 other ranks. They arrived in France February 11, 1915, belonging to the 1st Division, 1st canadian Infantry Brigade, and was reinforced during their time at the Western Front by 6th Canadian reserve Battalion.
The Diary of the 2nd Canadian Infantry battalion in late April 1915 informs us about the preparation of an attack, that seems to be from South East Kitcheners Wood, West of the village of St. Julien or Sint-Juliaan as the named are spelled today. The unit must, according to Col. LECKIE, disturb the enemy who has opened up a Trench that goes North-West of the unit. The attack was not successful due to the enemy machine guns that were operating in the flanks.
Here somewhere, between the April 22nd and 24th, 1915, one of the Swedes are missing from the fightings, and never found again. The other one is still fighting around what appears to be Juliet Farm, but he as well meets the end of his life sometime during April 26th, 1915.
The Swedish born soldiers that I am writing about in the text above is Edward Persson and Peter Nord. Here are their stories.
Edward (Per Erik) Persson is born November 5th, 1888, in Valbo Parish in Gästrikland, Sweden, by his parents Marta Eriksson and Per-Olof Persson. By the time of Edwards birth they live at the farm Alborga, south of Valbo. He leaves Sweden and arrives to Boston August 6th 1907 at an age of 18, with the Ship SS INVERNIA.
He applies for a Homestead in Alberta, Canada in 1908. During the time in Canada it is not known if he is joining the Canadian Army by his own will or if he is ordered to participate. During April in 1915 Edward is involved in the battles for St. Julien North East of Ypres in Belgium, at first missing in action, but later presumed to have died between April 22nd and April 24th 1915.
Edward has no known grave and is Commemorated at Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres.
Peter Nord, or Petrus Martinsson as he is called as a child, is born in Aspås Parish in Jämtland, Sweden, November 25, 1882, by his parents Brita Ersdotter and Martin Pettersson. He grew up at the farm Näset east of the town Krokom in Sweden, today called Aspånäset. He went to North America in 1900, at an age of 18, and later crossed the border to Canada in 1912, where he applied for a Homestead.
Peter was a farmer in about 15 years in North America and Canada before he voluntarily applied for to do his duty in the Canadian Army. He probably went over to France in accordance with the info regarding the 2nd battalion, together with Edward, who belonged to the same unit.
Peter was killed in action April 26, 1915, during the attack at St. Julien, probably in the area of Juliet Farm, in the same area as Edward. Peter has no known grave and is also Commemorated at Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres.
There is no known information at this moment if the both Swedes knew about eachother, but probably they did. Both of the Swedes were just in France for just over two months. Today the terrain looks like the photos below, the picture of Juliet Farm. Photos are taken both from East and South of the farm. Maybe they were here in this terrain, preparing for the attack at the village? We will never know.
Maybe one day they will find both Edward and Peter, but until that time, may they rest in peace.
A week at the battlefields goes very fast, I am now home again after spending a time in Belgium, both with some leisure but also some trips to the battlefields to follow up the Swedes who fell at the Western Front, within my ongoing project. The last post was about those Swedes who fought for the the Canadian Forces in the area and this post will cover the terrain and places where those who fought for AIF are supposed to have been fallen. Please join me.
We will start from the northern part and go south. Note that thye photos of any old trench maps are from the terrain, and may not cover the speciific time period connected to the soldier.
Augustus Wood – Hans Sebastian Hansson Killed in action
Hans Was born in Malmö, Skåne, Sweden December 24, 1890.
7261 Pvt Hans Sebastian Hansson – 35th Australian Infantry battalion – October 12, 1917
Hans belonged to the 35th Australian Infantry Battalion, that this day, october 12th 1917, was fighting in vicinity of Augustus Wood near Passchedaele. The battalion lost over 400 men this day. Due to the losses the battalion were forced to withdrawn and be built up again for the next upcoming months. Hans was killed this day, age 26, and are buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery.
Dairy Wood Area – Carl Flodström Killed in Action
Carl was born in Nederluleå, Västerbotten, Sweden, March 26, 1883
3076A Pvt Carl Flodstrom – 13th Australian Infantry battalion – October 21, 1917
Carl Flodstrom are assessed to have been near the area of Dairy Wood, mentioned in the Intelligence summaries and in the patrol reports. Carl is killed in action 21st of october 1917 in the battle of Passchendaele. Carl is commemorated at the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres.
Broodseinde Ridge – Oscar Wikström Killed in Action
Oscar was born in Helsingborg, Skåne, Sweden January 8, 1897
2271A Pvt Oscar Wikstrom – 50th Australian Infantry battalion – October 15, 1917.
Oscar Wikstrom fights with his unit around Broodseinde in the third battle of Ypres, which started on October 12, 1917. Oscar was buried in the masses of grenades that hit nearby. He is found injured by his comrades but dies of his injuries within an hour. They bury Oscar on the spot, but do not mark the spot. Oscars are not found, as many others are not found in this region. He died October 15, 1917 and is remembered in Menin Gate in Ypres. October 1917 was the worst period for the AIF during the entire war.
China Wood – Tage Ferdinand Ågren (Richardson) Killed in Action
Tage was born in Nosaby, Skåne, Sweden, July 14, 1890
Killed in Action from trenches near China Wood 10th of October 1917. The diary states that they received light caliber fire from the area between China Wood and Anvil Wood, and the place at the map are the place where Tages unit could have been. Tage is not found under the name Agren (Ågren), as he was called another family name, Richardson, which you find under the R page in the cemetery folder. He is buried at The Huts Cemetery near Dikkebus, southwest of Ypres.
2085 Gunner Tage Ferdinand Agren (Richardson) – 102 Field Artillery Battery – October 10, 1917
Celtic Wood – Carl Hjalmar Arring killed in action
Carl was born in Täby, north of Stockholm, Sweden.
The diary states that the unit were in the area of Celtic Wood, and it can also be the place where Carl was killed in 7th of October 1917. Carl surname wasnt found in any archive, but finally I found him under Eriksson in the church book, that mention all his other data, and he lived in the part of Täby that was called Arninge, and probably he took that name after the region he came from. Carl Hjalmar has no known grave and is commemorated at Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres.
5030 Pvt Carl Hjalmar Arring – 10th Australian Infantry battalion – October 7, 1917.
Anzac Ridge – Johan Eriksson Killed in Action
Johan is born in Norberg, Västmanland, Sweden January 17, 1894.
Johan Eriksson falls in battle in the area between Railway Wood and Anzac Ridge October 5th, 1917, before the battalion retreats to Steenvorde. The day before the British fights in the battle of Broodseinde north of this place. Battle of Broodseinde Ridge starts on October 4, the day before Eriksson dies in battle, and his position is judged to be between this place and Broodseinde Ridge. Johan does not have his own grave, and is therefore mentioned on the wall at Menin Gate memorial in Ypres.
3105 Pvt Johan Henrik Eriksson – 27th Australian Infantry battalion – October 5, 1917
Ravine Wood – Larch Wood – Eric Larson Killed In Action
Eric was born in Lindesberg, Örebro, Sweden.
Eric Larson fought for the 4th AIF Infantry battalion in the area of Ravine Wood and Larch Wood. By the time he was killed he was attached to the divisional baths, and in that situation killed in action 22nd of March 1918. It has been hard to find any information about that type of unit, but as far as I understand, he was transported to this unit after have been wounded, for some more easy duty. Eric is buried at the Lindenhoek Chalet Military Cemetery, one of two Lindenhoek Cemeteries.
7017 Pvt Eric Larsson – 4th Australian Infantry Battalion – March 22, 1918
In my next post I will cover the story about two Swedish born soldiers who fought for the Canadian units, Peter and Edward, who fought in the Area of Sint-Juliaan, north of Ypres, in 1915.
July 14th, I continued my tour at the battlefield i Belgium, and this day in company by Danielle, the woman from Antwerp, who got me hooked on this by giving very useful tips and links, how to search and where to look, she is responsible for me going totally into this now!
Yesterday I followed in the footsteps of the Swedes who fought for the Canadian and the Australian forces of the Commonwealth, and also one Swede who fought for the Brits. It is really interesting to actually stand in the terrain where the units where, and maybe get a small feeling of what they saw, but of course not about what they experienced, that would be quite hard to take in.
Here is two small overview pictures in what area we were in.
In this post I will start with covering those Swedes who fought for the Canadian troops. here are the small stories about each one of them. If there are any trench maps in the parts below, they can be from the area, but may not reflect the exact time when the soldiers were active in the area.
470031 Pvt Leonard Axel Larsson – 25th Canadian Infantry Battalion – November 11, 1917
Front Line 8th Nov – Leonard Axel Larsson Killed in Action
Born in Undersåker, Jämtland, Sweden, April 11, 1894.
Leonards unit was just in the Canadian frontline West of Passchendaele, and were about to charge to the objectives at the North-East side of the village. Leonard was Killed in Action at 8th of November 1917 at a place near the frontline, assumed at the map. Below some pictures from the terrain, and other files connected to the situation. I have assumed that Leonards unit were in support of the other battalions up front towards Passchendaele.
Leonard Axel Larsson is buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery.
201599 Pvt Andrew Bergman (Bergstedt) – 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles – KIA October 30, 1917 and 687450 Pvt August Johnson – 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles – KIA October 31, 1917.
Source Farm – Andrew Bergman Killed in action
Andrew was born in Kville Parish, Tanum, Bohuslän Sweden April 23, 1882.
Andrew Bergman was fighting with his unit 2nd CMR, around the area of Vapour Farm and Source Farm. Andrew fought in the same area and in the same unit as August Johnson. Both were never found. Andrew was killed the 30th of october 1917, in the battle of Passchendale. Andrew is commemorated at Menin Gate Memorial
Source Farm – Vapour Farm – August Johnson Killed in Action
August hasnt been able to verify when it comes to where he is born exactly, but he was born in Sweden November 10, 1874.
August was fighting with his unit, 2nd CMR, in the battle of Passchendaele, just north of the village Passchendaele, between Source Farm and Vapour Farm. August was killed the 31st of october 1917, and he is missing and therefore commemorated at Menin Gate Memorial.
267083 Pvt Edvin Robert Olson – 5th Canadian Infantry battalion – KIA November 10, 1917.
Meetcheele – Edvin Robert Olson Killed in Action
Edvin was born in Våmb Parish, Skåne, Sweden June 7th, 1896
Edvin falls in battle when his battalion supports the 7th and 8th battalions’ attack on Passchendaele, the third phase, which begins on November 10, 1917. He is not found and has no grave of his own, and is remembered at Menin Gate in Ypres.
100411 Pvt Karl Adrian Olson – 43rd Canadian Infantry Battalion – KIA October 27, 1917.
Bellevue Pillbox – Karl Adrian Olson Killed in Action
Karl was born in Väne-Åsaka, Västergötland, Sweden, March 25, 1888
Karl Olsson’s battalion advances towards German positions around Bellevue Pillboxes, and Karls falls in the beginning of the second phase of the battle of Passchedaele October 26, 1917. He is not found, and he is commemorated at the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres.
199046 Pvt Erick Anderson – 46th Canadian Infantry Battalion – KIA October 26, 1917
46th Bn Position – Erick Anderson Wounded in Action.
Erick Anderson was born in Floda, Södermanland, Sweden, February 1st, 1886.
Erick arrived in England from Canada July 6th, 1916 and is Taken on Strenght (TOS) to the 5th Canadian Infantry Battalion. According to thye Casualty card he is injured in his right arm by a shrapnel or a Gun Shot which penetrated his arm. He received this injury in the battle of Vimy Ridge in France, April 11th 1917. He was then fighting for the same battalion as another Swede, Axel Renyus Carlson, who you can find in my soldier list in the Main menu in this web page. Axel was killed in action in that battle.
Erick was discharged from Wharncliffe War Hospital in Sheffield June 11th 1917, and then later became attached to 46th Canadian Infantry Battalion in September 26, 1917. In October 26, 1917 he is reported to be wounded and missing, and later on reported to have been killed in action the same day. Erick has no known grave and he is commemorated at Menin Gate Memorial.
473075 Pvt Martin Swedberg – 16th Canadian Infantry Battalion – KIA June 13, 1916
Hill 61 – Martin Swedberg Killed in Action
Martin was born in Borgsjö Parish, Västernorrland, Sweden, May 26, 1875
Martin participates in battles east of Hill 61, which can be read from the diary, but otherwise there is not much information. He has no known grave of his own and is commemorated at Menin Gate in Ypres. On June 13, 1916, the Canadians fought over Mont Serrel a few hundred meters southwest of this place.
442081 Pvt Eric Carlson – 7th Canadian Infantry Battalion – KIA June 13, 1916
Mount Sorrel – Eric Carlson Killed in Action
Eric was born in Södra Barnabördsdhuset in Stockholm, Sweden, March 22, 1889
Eric Carlson falls as his unit advances south of Hooge towards Mount Serrel, where the Germans have taken large parts of the height, which is then recaptured by large parts of Eric’s units. Eric falls on the last day of the Battle of Mount Sorrel, June 13, 1916, the same day as Martin Swedberg, who fights north of Eric, around Hill 61. Eric is buried at Railway Dugouts Burial Ground just south of Ypres.
415222 (A15222) Corporal Bertil Albert Lindh – 13th Canadian Infantry Battalion – KIA April 19, 1916
The Bluff – Bertil Lindh Killed in Action
Bertil was born in Hedvig Eleonora Parish, Stockholm, Sweden December 31, 1892
Bertil Was killed and originally buried in Trench 33 the 19th of April 1916, when his unit was fighting close to the German Line in The Bluff Area.
The above information is about those Swedes who fought for the Canadian forces in the area of Ypres and Passchendaele. It was really interesting to walk around at the palces where I, myself, thinks they have been fallen, Sometimes I can get close to those places, like in Bertils case, but others is just an overview due to private land. But this gives you an overall picture how the area looks today.
Next post will be about those Swedes who fought for the Australian Forces in the same area within the same time frame. below some other nice photos from the area.
For over two years I have been thinking, talking, writing and dreamt about this. To finally start the next phase of my project, to go down to the actual battlefield and visit the sites and areas where the soldiers in my reasearch are assumed to have been fallen, and where they are commemorated or buried.
Finally the day came, and I decided to start the documentation in the area of Messines Ridge, to visit the places of five Swedish soldiers who fought at the Western Front, and sadly fell there.
Please follow me in my foosteps, it was not the best weather today, but we cant have the power over that, nor could the soldiers. Below an area-picture, that maybe makes it a bit easier to follow the pictures below in a more larger context.
Note: The trench maps below may not be from the correct time or period, but shows the terrain at that time.
5015 Pvt Nils Otto Lundius – 45th Infantry battalion AIF – June 7 1917.
Nils Otto Lundius takes part in an attack that starts on June 7, 1917, from the Stinking Farm location, and then through the defense systems to the east. Nils is killed during the first day’s battles, and is buried in Messines Ridge Cemetery just east of this place.
23149 Corporal Hilding Hedlund – 15th Canadian Infantry battalion – December 23 1915.
Hilding was spending his time in December 1915 at the area around Plogsteert Woods, when his unit 15th Canadian infantry battalion was moving between Kortepyp Huts, the Reserve position near Red Lodge area and the trenches, beleived to be around this position. Hilding was killed in action at 23rd of December 1915.
1216 Pvt Neil Nilsson – 33rd Infantry battalion AIF – June 8th 1917.
Neil Nilsson belonged to D Company who were connecting the different lines with communication lines, and it was probably in this area he was killed June 8th 1917, later buried at Plogsteert Wood, but is now mentioned at Menin Gate Memorial.
3402 Pvt Johan Hallberg – 57th Infantry battalion AIF – March 4 1918
Johan Hallberg’s battalion, the 57th battalion, conducts a number of raids to the east, in which Johan is estimated to be killed in March 4th 1918.
2421 Pvt Peter Conrad Hedberg – 58th Infantry battalion AIF – March 13 1918.
Hedberg is killed while serving in the defense systems East of Messines near Cinema Road trenches, when he is hit by a large splinter that cuts one leg and tears another. Conrad does not have time to be taken care of before he dies, and was buried near a casualty clearing station back in the defense system. Conrad died March 13 1918.
It has been very nice to actually be in the terrain and try to “feel it in”, but of course we will never know the exact situation. Maybe get a feeling from it when listening to recordings from those veterans who survived.
The next day I will spend in the area West of Passchendaele, and that time I will try to follow up 12 Swedish soldiers.
I am still in my fact finding phase regarding Swedish born individuals who fought in the Great War at the Western Front, and also killed and buried there.
Up to this date I am now working with 343 individuals who fall within the criterias mentioned above.
I decided to make some graphic out of the data I have in the database, and have made some diagrams that shows from what county the soldiers were, to, in the longer term, connect this data to data about Swedish emigration, to North America and Canada in particular.
First a graphic diagram that shows which army the Swedish born soldiers fought for. (Updated July 8th, 2021.)
The next diagram shows from which county in Sweden the Swedish born soldiers came from, those who were fighting for Commonwealth, French and German Armies.
Note that the figure 132 are those soldiers that I have confirmed to be born in Sweden, with a picture from the Church book at riksarkivet.se. The others are much likely born i Sweden as well, but I want to be consistent in my research.
Note also that the county of Halland in south west is empty, compared to the graph below. For some strange reason Gotland, the large island to the far East, is empty in all of the graphs, even if I know soldiers from Gotland participated in the War. But I have not anyone from Gotland who fell at the Western Front in my database. Yet.
The data you see in this graphic diagram suits well with facts that says that most of the immigration to Canada from Sweden went on in the 1880s. Mostly from the parts Stockholm and “Norrland”, North land. This to be compared to the data below, who shows the soldiers who fought for the American Expeditionary Forces. Of course this is just one conclusion. There were Swedes who went to US in this time as well, who decided to take a part in the Great War, for the Commonwealth, the Canadian armies, as US not participated yet. I have found a few things in my research that points on that.
The Immigration to US went on from around 1850 to 1910. Almost a million emigrants went to North America in this period. This from an amount of Swedish citizen in Sweden at that time, around 3 500 000 citizens in total.
I have no graph that tells us WHEN the soldiers emigrated, but briefly I can read from the data in my research that many Swedes who fought for the US army in the Great War, went to US around 1907-1914, and from the regions in the south like Västra Götaland, Småland, Kronoberg and Skåne.
As in those days, and still today, most of our population living in the southern part of Sweden, but it is interesting anyway to see that it is in some way connected to the emigration, and I am of course not surprised that it is.
Below you will fin a graphic diagram that shows the total of those 306 confirmed soldiers that I have in my research, of 343 in total.
I havent made any deeper conclusion yet, but the diagrams above shows anyway some interesting facts.
The most common reasons for Swedes to emigrate in these times are connected to climate changes, that caused hard times for the farmers and the Swedish food production, and the in general poor situation in Sweden at that time. Also the offer from US, of free land to the emigrants, meant a lot to this emigration.
I will in also try to draw more facts from my database to be able to do more comparisons in the future, but the main focus will always be the story of the individuals itself, the history of those, connected to the terrain in Sweden, and on the battlefield.
In my research about the Swedish born soldiers who fought and fell at the Western Front I always try to find good sources about the historic situation they might have been in, and one very good source of knowledge about the Great War is the Podcast “Old Frontline”.
The episodes are very good composed by Paul Reed, a military historian, that have a great experience of the battlefields, and he have also, back in the eighties, met several of the old WW1 veterans from that period, and recorded their stories, which, according to me, are great treasures!
On this particular day, 1st of July 2021, the 105th anniversary of the first day of the battle of the Somme, he had made an episode about some of the situations from it, and connects it to the terrain. In this episode there is also recordings from one of the old veterans.
In my own research I am inspired by his work, and I look very much into some of the structures he has in his books about walking the battlefields at the Western Front, and will try, in my little project, make a structure that look likes a bit of his, when I will try to document the faith of the Swedes who fell on the battlefield at the Western Front.
You can follow his work at the web page mentioned above, and also follow him at Twitter through this link.
I wish Paul good luck in the upcoming work, and I appreciate very much the work he does!
I was looking through some archives, as I use to do, and looked for some names that still are Scandinavian, but not so common, and I found the Swedish born soldier David Gerhard Lydell, born April 16th, 1892 in Norra Hestra Parish, Gislaved, Sweden. He was born in an old “Soldattorp” as his father, Josef Lydell, was a soldier in “Jönköpings regemente”, “Mo Härads Kompani 5”.
David left Sweden in 1910 with only $25 in his pocket. He went to France in August 1918, and Died of Decease not even a month after he arrived, age 26.
I decided to try to find the location of this “soldattorp”, in the small village of Flahult, Norra Hestra, and I think I have located it through some old maps from the Swedish Map Service “Lantmäteriet”. This place is only about 50 km from where I live. Below you can see some snippets from the old maps that I have found, and some from map sites at Internet. The area “Cb” in the small map looks exactly like the area in the larger old map.
Next step will be to try to visit these areas to collect information for my upcoming Battlefield Guide, that also will contain information about each individual, about their history connected to Sweden.
The other evening I was looking for more information about a soldier named Erik M Carlson, and searched for his name in some digital newspapers. I found a small article about him and was satisfied over that.
I did not reflect over it then, but when reading some articles again, I found in this case another individual in the same text, in the text about Erik M Carlson.
I decided to search for him in the archives, and there I found him, as the Swedish soldier Otto Harold Christenson Persson.
Otto was born in Vinslöv, Skåne, in the most southern landscape of Sweden. Otto went to US in 1914. He left US for France in June 1918, fought at the Western Front, and was KIA in October. You can read his faith through some of the photos above.
I have manually searched through most of the common Scandinavian names in the different archives, but there are also individuals with names that are not so common, although the are Scandinavian.
That was the reason in this case, I havent searched through that name before, and it made me glad to find him! I will now read the articles more carefully next time, to maybe find some more hidden gems!
I am still in my fact finding phase in my project about Swedes at the Western Front, and one source that I look into now is in the old Swedish-American newspapers. They are a great source when trying to find names, stories about the individuals that I already have, but also read about the things that happened during that time, in the Great War, between 1914 and 1918.
This evening I just look through an article by the Swedish journalist, Gunnar Cederschöld, who went to one of the American Training camps in USA at that time, to search for Swedes, both those who had emigrated, but also for those Swedes who were born over there, the Second generation Swedes.
I decides to transcribe the article as I think it gives a bit of insight about who those Swedes were, what they thought about, and what made them join the army and be prepared to go out in war., even if it is just a small glimps, and may not cover all of the Swedes who participated.
The article is from a newspaper from August 7th, 1918, called Omaha-Post. I have adjusted his lanhuage a bit as it was written in old Swedish, but the core in still intact. Below you can read it in English. Please understand that some of the men had values from that time, who may not reflect the common Swede today, but it is still interesting.
... The next day I came to an artillery brigade. And there I found better hunting grounds. The general gave me a Swedish corporal and a soldier and with them I went from battery to battery and looked through the scrolls. And on each battery we found several Andersson, Karlson, Lundström, Lindgren, etc. And if there was no other, there was a Christensen or Pedersen.
Then it was an easy thing to find them. The occasional Anderson we saw was an angry Scotsman, but the vast majority willingly admitted that they were either born in Sweden or by Swedish parents. And the most gratifying thing was that they were proud of it. In these regiments, which in part came from the Middle West, it seemed to be considered a merit to be Swedish. Nearly half of the countrymen, both first and second generation, were corporals or sergeants. Some were “Military Policemen”, a occupation reserved for solid and steadfast men with influence over their comrades and accustomed to dealing with drunken people.
You certainly did not have to be ashamed of your countrymen out there. You didn’t have to look for more handsome men. Those Swedes born or raised in the U. S. A. were often giants nearly two meters tall, blond, broad-shouldered, and confident, but awake and alert. With surprise, I found that most of those who were born in the states spoke good Swedish or at worst understood completely. The children of New York Swedes seldom admit that they know the language of their fathers.
I had come to ask them a lot of things. But I did not get much opportunity for that. They had so many questions to ask me.
“How are things in the old country, they must have a hard time with food?” was almost always the first question.
“Do they have coffee? Do they have bread?”
“I almost broke in tears at breakfast, when I think of the old people, who might be eating “bark bread”, said a northerner. “Do you have any Swedish newspapers with you?” I bitterly regretted not bringing a bundle of trade newspapers. They would have been more than welcome out here.
“Is it possible to send a couple of pounds of coffee to my family in the old country?”
“Is it true that there are Swedes in the French army? How have they managed?”
What I had to say about the Swedish legionaries interested them. “I knew that Swedish boys can fight”, said the former railway man. – We’ll probably be able to cope with what we bring with us when it is our turn! -There are no Swedes with the Germans, are there?
I must admit that although there were a couple of officers there, there was very little risk or chance that they would come across them. However, there were some Swedes in the English army and several companies among the Canadians. That’s good to know, they said.
The American-born Swedes showed more international views on their issues. They wanted to know, if there was any risk or chance , that Sweden would be involved in the war and on which side. If the Socialists gained ground during the war. What the new government went for. If industry and finance suffered much from the war. -How high was the dollar in Sweden?
–Do they know at home that there are many thousands of Swedes in the United States army? That a large part of them are volunteers? In these regiments, everyone was a volunteer. Only a few had been soldiers before 1917.
Among them was an old corporal (or possibly sergeant, I do not remember for sure) Berg from Stockholm, who despite over twenty years of service in the US Army, spoke genuine Stockholm dialect and was delighted to talk about his Stockholm memories .
But about his father the watchmaker in Stockholm, I could sadly not give him any fresh news.
A very sympathetic acquaintance was the Swedish lieutenant E, a calm serious man. He had an advance – from non-commissioned officer and served as a first lieutenant.
The vast majority of the Swedes had volunteered when America declared war, many of them had signed up the day after the declaration of war. Some were very young and came directly from agricultural schools, universities or technical colleges. Others were already mature men, who had abandoned their farms, workshops or shops to go out and fight for Uncle Sam. I hardly met a single one who became a soldier because he failed in civilian life. Nor was the desire for adventure what drove them. The vast majority had taken the rifle for the same reason as the Swedes in the Foreign Legion.
Pure idealism, Violated sense of justice, resentment against the breaker of promise and the child and woman killer. – “Right should be right” is the core of the Swede’s view of life, on whatever latitude he lives. And one who violates the law, he should be beaten. Their national selfesteem about American subjects had also contributed, both among the Swedish-born and those of the second generation. They could not stand with their hands in their pockets and watch as the emperor stepped on Uncle Sam’s toes.
They need to go out and teach the world respect for Stars and Stripes.
In the first place, they feel like Americans. But the awareness that they are of Swedish blood gives them a certain self-confidence. They know that their ancestors fought well against Germans, Moscovites and others. They feel the responsibility to carry on the Swedish warrior tradition.
Now that I know them, I trust that they will do so with honor and that we will be honored by our countrymen.
Below you find some text about Gustaf Oscar Roos, that describes his story from a youngster, how he gained experience in the Boer War in South Africa, about his awards and when he later then joined the BEF to fight at the Western Front.
“Captain Roos was the younger son of Mr. Gustaf Roos of Queen’s Gate Terrace. He was admitted in 1882, became a Queen’s Scholar in 1883. In 1887 left the school and was admitted to Balliol College Oxford where he took a first-class in jurisprudence in 1891. As a law student in London he took a very active part in organising and managing working boys’ clubs in the East End which were managed as a charitable endeavour. He became a solicitor and often worked as a ‘Poor Man’s Solicitor’ at Toynbee Hall. In the Boer War joined Thorneycroft’s Mounted Infantry. He was twice wounded, severely at the Battle of Spion Kop in 1900, and obtained the King’s Medal and the Queen’s Medal with six clasps. He then remained in Johannesburg practicing once again as a solicitor.
The Elizabethan records that:
He came to England for the war, and though at first refused a commission on the ground of his age obtainedit by his importunity. He had boundless energy and great capacity, and was the most unselfish of men. He lived, as he died, for the good of others.
He was killed in action near Serre in the Battle of Somme on 1st July 1916. ‘A’ Company of the 14th Battalion the York and Lancaster Regiment was under his command and ordered to proceed in file across ‘No Man’s Land’ towards the German trenches. A later report suggests that Roos managed to enter a German trench but was immediately wounded, captured by the German soldiers and taken to a nearby hospital, set up in a church, where he died from his wounds.
He was initially buried in the Fremicourt Communal Cemetery by the German forces in 1916. His body exhumed on 26th June 1924 for reburial in a Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery. He was described as ‘a well-developed man with auburn hair and about 5 foot 9 or 10 inches in height, both legs broken, body badly smashed.’
Taken from “Account of part taken by the 14th (S) Bn. York & Lanc Rgt. On the attack on Serre. 1st July 1916.
The following were casualties sustained by this Battalion during these operations:
Killed – Lieut. Fordike, 2/Lieut. Hirst
Missing – Capt. Ross, Capt. Houston, Lieut. Fairley, Lieut. Anderson
Wounded – Lieut. Lowinsky, 2/Lieut. Strong. 2/Lieut. Holmes, 2/Lieut. Kell
Killed – 24
Wounded – 149
Missing – 92
Captain Roos mentioned above is assumed to be Captain Roos.