N Pihl – the unknown Swedish legionary

In my research I have, so far, found 15 Swedish born soldiers who fought in the French Foreign legion in WW1. They all seems to have been killed at the Western Front.

Until these recent days I have found all those Swedes who is mentioned at the French Foreign Legion Memorial outside the Swedish church in Paris, except one, mentioned as N Pihl.

Yesterday I decided to try to find anything about N Pihl when I now have more knowledge about how to search. I am now also connected to more digital sources.

I did not find him in the French archive “Memoire des hommes” and decided to try another approach. Maybe his name was Nils? I tried to search for Nils Pihl in the Swedish church books.

The first search has maybe given me the correct individual. I found a Nils Pihl, born in Landskrona Parish, Sweden, April 4, 1892, raised without a father by his mother Elna Nilsson. In some of the pages it looks like his mother Elna is living together with Per Nilsson, with his former surname Pihl, which later also Elna changes her surname to, even if Per later on is not found together with Elna.

The first information I found about Nils Pihl, is that “he is told to have been fallen in France 1918”. The text is changed from 1917 to 1918, or maybe vice versa. The year of his death on the memorial in Paris is 1917.

This makes it highly likely that this is the N Pihl I am looking for.

Nils Pihl is connected to Helsingborgs Naval Corps in 1908, to the 2nd company, as a young sailor assistant, or if the word is Cabin boy. But he seems to struggle. His knowledge in christianity is noted as low, and he is also later on fired from his duties as a result of bad behavior. He is also removed from the lists at the Naval Corps in 1911.

Maybe Nils decided to search for new adventures, as many Swedes did around this time. I have found some passenger lists that have the name “Nils Pihl” on them, and he is travelling to and from Louisiana in North America, arriving from South America. He seems to be working at a fruit company, and the location Belize is mentioned in some of the papers. He could also have been in Australia.

I will continue to search for Nils, to try to find him in the French archives. I searched for individuals with the same Date of Birth as him, but no results that looks like Nils Pihl.

I have now found, and I think that I also have confirmed, all 16 names on the memorial. When I search for “suéde” I get 14 hits, but I know from before that some did not write Sweden as their place of birth.

I will come back with more information if I find it.

The brave Dane

In my research I cover Swedish born soldiers, but quite often I find other soldiers who are born in other Nordic countries, and it is always interesting to put the data that I have found into a context which makes the events more interesting from a historical perspective.

Like in this case. I was skimming through some casaulty cards from those who fell in the Great War when they fought for the American Expeditionary Forces.

I found this card from a Danish born soldier, John Rees. The thing that cought my eye was the short description about his bravery in battle.

He was awarded for extraordinary heroism in action, September 29, 1918, when he fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. He survived the specific situation, but could have been part of those who supported 32nd Division in the area around the German Kriemhilde-Stellung, when he fell in October 9, 1918.

For his actions he received the Distinguished Service Cross, and the the words below is attached to this recognition.

In my mind I ask myself if any of those Swedish born soldiers, who also fought the same day as John Rees, and also in the same unit, 91st Division, 361st Regiment, AEF, knew about eachother. Maybe they participated in the same attacks, in the area south of Gegnes, and saw or heard any of those heroic actions John Rees went through? Sadly those Swedes fell in the situation that day of September 29, 1918.

Those three Swedes were Carl A Nelson, Carl M Carlson and Claus E Nygren. Below you see a screenshot from my project at Google Earth, where the unit is assessed to have been that day.

There are some documents that connects John Rees to Denmark, and I have found them on Ancestry. There is also some deviating facts in these archives, and these wrong facts are later on transferred to other sites, which makes it a bit difficult to confirm the data. His father’s name is mentioned on the casualty card, which I also find the facts about emigration. the The Danish town of Them in Salten, Jutland, Denmark, just south of the town of Silkeborg is also mentioned. It looks like he left Denmark from Copenhagen in 1914.

John Rees is buried at the American Cemetery in Meuse-Argonne Below there is a photo of John, and in some archives this photo is connected to his name, but I can’t fully confirm this.

We will never know if this Dane knew any of those Swedes who fought together that day, but may all of these Nordic soldiers rest in peace.

He fell on Christmas Day – Pvt Alexander Benson

Cold, turned fine, then snowing, strange wind. Quiet except evening strafe + came “Pine Apples” with gas over on right half of Bn front, stopped by artillery retaliation. 1 casualty … (4:15) last night wiring party, dead 12:45 pm. Working parties 5 offrs + 185 O.R, wiring party, carrying wire but moon to bright for wiring. 1 casualty, accidental, (… into bomb)”

From diary of 85th Canadian infantry Battalion, December 25, 1917.

Probably Alexander Benson is mentioned as casualty No 1 in the text above. The text on the casualty card makes a probable connection to that.

Alexander succumed to his wounds after has been shot, when evacuated to No 11 Canadian Field Ambulance. But who was this Swedish born soldier, Alexander? Below I will tell you more about him.

Alexander Benson, or actually Axel Birger Bengtsson, was born in Weinge parish in Halland, Sweden, February 16th, 1887. He was raised among his 9 siblings on the farm Linghult by his parents, mother Kristina Bengtsson and his father Bengt Bengtsson. In his registration form it is mentioned that he is born in Hallan, Norway, but that is not correct. The reason for that can be that it is written by another person, a clerk or something, who later on thought that Halland was Hallan, which is a place in Norway.

No, Axel Birger was a real “Hallänning” a word for someone from the landscape Halland in Sweden, there is no doubt about that.

According to the Swedish church books Axel went to North America the first time in April 27, 1906, and are then mentioned as “moved back” again in October 17, 1906. He then went back to North America a second time in March 8, 1907. Right now I don’t know a reason for these travels. I have found the passenger lists from when he left Sweden and via Hull in the UK arrived in Boston in March 28, 1907, connected to his second trip from Sweden.

Axel was designated to go to Spokane, state of Washington, in the US. Imagine this long trip across the continent at that time. I know from the registration form that he later on went up to Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. Many Swedes went to Lethbridge in these times, and maybe he went to one of his brothers, who earlier than Axel went to North America.

I don’t know what made him sign for the Canadian army at that time. He arrived in England in October 6, 1916, with “S.S Tucania” together with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces (CEF).

During his following service he became wounded a couple of times, the first time in May 24th, 1917, but the injuries may have been less severe as he stayed with the unit that time. The second time he got some shrapnel in his knee, and he was taken care of by the 12th Canadian Field Ambulance, but was later on transported back to his unit from 6th Canadian Casualty Clearing station.

The third time he became injured he wasn’t so lucky, it became his last day of duty in the 85th Canadian Infantry battalion, Nova Scotia Regiment. He died of his gun shot wounds at 12th Canadian Field Ambulance, at an age of 30. According to the unit diary they where in the terrain of Mericourt in France, and in the upcoming days Axel’s unit was working in the area close to Billy Burke Trench.

The article in the newspaper translated to english:

Tönnersjö citizen fallen in the War. According to a message from the 8th (?) Canadian Infantry battalion, Axel Benson has fallen on the battlefield this Christmas Day 1917. B, who has been in Canada since 1910, was from Linghult in Tönnersjö (parish), where his parents still live”

Axel is buried at the SUCRERIE CEMETERY, ABLAIN-ST. NAZAIRE in France, where he rest among 381 other soldiers. Up to this date I have no photo of his headstone, but I will as soon as possible visit him and his final resting place. He is buried there together with another Swede, Anders Zakrison, from the 5th Canadian Infantry Battalion, who was killed one month before him, November 26th, 1917.

Imagine, a young man in his 20’s, went from Sweden, passed UK and ended up in Boston, and then later through Spokane, Washington, to the final destination of Lethbridge in Canada. All this to finally end up in a former battlefield in France.

He was probably a good soldier, a private who didn’t caused any problems for his officers, at least outside his visits to the clearing stations. Below some photos from the area where he came from in Sweden. The small building on the photo to the left is Linghult, how it looks like today.

I send my thoughts to Axel Birger Bengtsson on this day, 104 years later, when he, in the cold dark morning, tried to work with the wiring in No man’s land. Thank you for your service.

May Axel rest in peace.

Colonel Gustaf Bouveng diary – from the Western Front

I am reading the diary from the Swedish Colonel Gustaf Bouveng. It is an interesting book with notes from a period during 1914 to late 1915, when a Swedish military delegation went to the Eastern Front, to follow some German and Russian tactics and doctrines.

During their trip they visited parts of Eastern Prussia, Poland, Lithuania, Wolhynia (Today western part of Ukraine), Western Front and Munich.

I have decided to give you some small glimps of the chapter about the Western Front, and below you will see my transcription in english. In the future I will also try to give you some content about the other areas as well.

Source: Colonel Gustaf Bouveng – Diary from the Eastern Front. Stockholm 1928 – Otto Ahlströms Boktryckeri.

During the time when the War broke out in Europe, Colonel Bouveng was the commander of Svea Royal Lifeguards in Stockholm Sweden. During 1901-1902 Colonel Bouveng was working in the German War College in Berlin. He was also during his time the Commander of The Swedish War College Karlberg in Stockholm.

The contacts he established in Berlin made it easy to give hime the assignment to do this trip during the war. It became natural to spend most of the time at the Russian front. The diary only contain half of the content he wrote.

Ernst Linder

(Ernst did this when Gustaf already had passed away, but he had his permission from him to do it. I have also permission from the owner of the diary, a relative to Gustaf Bouveng, to make this small story)

November 14, 1914, Saturday.

Travel Valenciennes-Cambrai-St. Quentin-Laon. Nice weather. Nice country. Large waves in the landscape, not to much hilly, very fertile landscape. Beets everywhere. Very fiendly people. The villages are poor and dark, made of stone and easy to use in fortification in close quarter fights. In St. Quentin, by the HQ of the II Army. (Freiherr v. Loë) and the Major in charge wanted to arrest me. (It doesn’t say why, but maybe the reason was that he went through a wrong area. Joacims remarks)

The commader for the 115. Regiment told me that he had participated in 26 battles and lost 3600 men. Laon – VII Army HQ. La Fére, an old but beautiful Fort. Laon is placed on a nice, hilly part of the terrain, and you see it from far away. Very beautiful.

First we went to the station and met a great mix of soldiers from different regiments (VII Army) who were make large purchases – mostly butter (1:60 mark /Kilo!). Then went up Armé Oberkommando VII.

I was presented to Generaloberst von Heeringen. Very alike the portraits I had seen of him. Also met the Chief of Staff Generalleutnant von Hänisch.

(In the book he here presents some photos from Antwerpen from his earlier trip Between Brussels and Antwerpen. – below)

After some food we went with Hauptmann Groth (Nachrichtenoffizier) over Bruyéres-et-Montberault – Chamouille. A lot of different huts dug into the ground and above was documented. Went further on to Vauclerés. An old monastry, in and around that monstry the Naval guns from the French side had made an awful mess. We left the car there. We went by foot to the Farm Hurtebise, where fearsome fights had taken place.

When the Germans came to this terrain, the French kept Hurtebise (von Heeringen told us that). The Germans charged and took some buildings. Apparently there are both German and French units here. The german worked their way forward and are now keeping the completely destroyed Hurtebise, and 30-40 m away are the French lines.

Through several trenches we went forward and passed small huts with the most funny inscriptions, but also very serious ones, to the most forward line, the front line. A lot of posts had the French in sight. It was a constant fire. We passed an Oberleutnant from the 8th company, was injured in the arm and in the head.

He showed us the french lines with a mirror, which we also earlier saw through a gap between the sandbags. The French opened immidiately fire. The company lost daily around 3-4 men, we just met a stretcher on our way up. By the oaks a man was working with the sandbags.

Suddenly a grenade hit an oak. A very special feeling over the whole area, one soldier who was on post became totally “kaputt”, was screaming and could not stand, probably shocked, nerv shock.

We left the area and went on again. Went the wrong way, went up to Laon again. Oberst von Blomberg met us. We talked tacticts with him. Then came Generaloberst von Heering, he was kind and nice. He told us that the soldiers could not understand why they could not charge. They should easaly break the first line but then the French would fire from the other lines, which they have everywhere, that a charge would not be worth it. Only if the Germans could charge all over the line at the same time.

The officers in the staff were very friendly. One of them have had an assignment to open up all the lockers at the War Ministry in Brussels, and he found really interesting things. (For example an order to an Belgian higher officer in the General staff, that in June this year go to General Joffre for some discussions)

November 15, 1914, Sunday.

Travel over Montaigu to Neufchatel-sur-Aisne (snow) to General von Emmich. Completely charming. Told us very interesting things about the charge against Lüttich (Liège). We were interupted by Hauptmann Groth, who told us it was time to go. I was supposed to visit her excellence Frau Gemahlin, if I ever go to Hamburg. Von Emmich was small, fat, ugly , bluered in his face, but his kindness made us forget everything else.

From Neufchatel to Brimont. All is destroyed! Castles, houses, churches, everything!

This is just some notes from his travel at the Western Front at this time.

Below I have gathered some photos from the chapter.

I have more photos from Dinant from when I was there in 2014, but I just find those two now. I think I can see some of the old buildings in Dinant, above, also in my photo below.

The text from the diary may not have been translated into the most perfect english, but I think you can follow the story.

Below you will find a rough picture over where they went and in which area they were in mid November 1914. The approximate route is marked with a red line.

Next time I will try to look more into their trip around East Prussia an Lithuania.

Yet another Swede on Menin Gate Memorial.

Once again I am scanning those very interesting digitized old Swedish magazines from North America, and I discover so much interesting information. Suddenly I found a name that I have seen before, but never went further on with, for the reason that he wasn’t born in Sweden.

But the small note in the newspaper states that he was. I decide to look this through again, and after this I can add yet another Swedish born soldier, who fought and fell at the Western Front in the Great War, in to my database.

Below you can read the story about Pvt Louis John Engstrom.

Translation of the Swedish text in English below:

Härjedalen (Landscape in Sweden)

One fallen Härjedal warrior. From the consulate in Montreal, Canada, a message has been received by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that the soldier in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, Louis John Engström from Lovön, Ljungdalen (Sweden), fell between the 2nd and 5th of June, 1916. His mother, the widow Ingrid Olsson in Räcksjön, Sunne (Jämtland), says that her son went to America at the age of nine. By his death he was 18 or 19 years old.

Most of the facts in the newspaper is correct but not all of it. It took a while before I found him in the Swedish archives.

But it is a great feeling when I do find the links which in the end forms the picture around the individual, the Swedish born soldier.

In the Canadian archives, this time from the archive part “circumstances of death”, that is a great source of casualty cards to browse through, I find Louis John Engstram, and in the card I also see his number, which is of help when searching in some other parts of the Canadian archives.

I use his number 117014 and I get his registration form from the archive, in which he states to be born in Canada, in Peterboro, Ontario, Canada. He also mention that he is born in November 15, 1891, and if so, he wasn’t aroud 18 or 19 when he fell, which the newspaper said. I have now some facts to take with me in my search in Swedish archives. It turns out to be hard.

His name Louis is often from the Swedish names Ludvig or Lars, which I know from other cases, and John is often Johan, but there are a lot of people in Sweden with those names, so no luck in the beginning of my search. There is not much in the canadian files either, to use in my upcoming search. I see Sweden is mentioned, so I feel there is a connection.

The best source here is actually his mother’s name, and also the villages, mentioned in the newspaper.

Using mother’s name Ingrid Olsson and the village name, I only find a lot of Ingrid, but not Olsson. I decide to take away Olsson, and only use Ingrid. I receive some hits, and when looking through one of the last ones, I finally find an interesting name, Lars Johan Engström. He is born November 25, 1891, only 10 days after the dates that he mention in his Canadian form. He is mentioned together with an Ingrid. Can it be him? I later on decide to search for Lars Johan alone, and there he is as well, in a foster family.

I can read from the books that Ingrid’s father is unknown, so is also Lars Johan’s father. There is no name of the father in the church book, from when he was born, either.

I don’t know why he states in his registration form for the army, that he is born in Canada, because I found the Application for Homestead, and here he mention that he is from Sweden. He also mention, in the registartion form for the Army, that he is born November 15, instead of November 25, but the reason for that can be that he is quite young when he leave Sweden in 1902, around 11 years old. He is travelling with his foster parent Sven Larsson.

Lars Johan, or Louis John, is connected to 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles and at the time of his death in June 1916, the diary of this unit tells us about that they are fighting in the area south-east of Ypres, Belgium, in the area of Sanctuary Woods and Zillebeke. On the fifth of June the unit is releived and they are heading back to Steenvoorde, on the French side, a few miles west of Poperinge, Belgium.

The documents of Louis John says that he is beleived to have been killed between June 2nd and June 5th, 1916. He is stated as “Missing” in the cards, and then later on beleived to have been killed, at an age of 25. He could have been part of the battle of Mount Sorrel which took place between June 2nd-13th, 1916, where his unit was fighting within North Saskatchewan Regiment.

Lars Johan Engström or Louis John Engstrom is Swede #20 that I have found on the walls of Menin Gate Memorial. I will visit him and commemorate him next time I am in Ypres.

I can’t stop thinking about how many more individauls out there, who also stated that they were born somewhere else when filling in their registration forms. I may find more Swedes, and I will continue to search. Lars Johan is now #414 in my database, over those Swedish born soldiers who fought and fell and are buried at the Western Front in The Great War.

May Lars Johan rest in peace.

Connected through History – Great cooperation across the globe.

Twitter is fantastic. Through my research I have got connected to Dr Wendy Maddocks, who lives in New Zealand, on the other side of the world. She has discovered my web page about my research about Swedes who fell at the Western Front in the Great War. She also discovered some of my soldiers who participated in the War through their new country, New Zealand, and decided to do some more research of one of the soldiers, Oscar Backman.

It turned out to be a really strong story, and shows how interesting it can be to meet in the forum of History, to exchange knowledge, to make the history more alive, and maybe bring other aspects and reasons to start new and other angles of research.

It is an honour for me to present her article about Pvt Oscar Backman through the link below, it really gives you an interesting story, not only about Oscar, but also about his family and their life.

Archive detective work, again.

This friday evening I decided to scan some digitized newspapers from Australia, and with heavy eyelids after a hectic workday I scan it quite easily, and finding only names that I know from before. My main goal is to scan for Swedes that participated in the Dardanelles fightings, as I have a few of them already in my database. Suddenly I see a name that I will look a bit more into.

Walter Natanael Peterson, it says also Sweden, died of wounds.

Strange, I can’t remember that I have read the name Natanael before in my project, but of course, I could have missed him. In a strange way I put the data that I have in my research, in my head. And you know if you find something new. Strange to remember those things, but not remember names of colleagues at work … or maybe not.

I decide to look him up in the National Archives of Australia, and I find him quite easy by his name, Walter Natanael. It says that he is born in North America, in Brookland, a part of the city Washington. An American subject, but the relatives are stated to be in Stockholm. It could so be, but I decide to search for him in other Swedish Archives.

As you can see in the picture above it says that the name of one of his relatives is “Guhin”. Never heard that name before. I can barely see it but it says that his mother is Carolina. I take those names with me in my search in the Swedish archives.

Not very successful when it comes to find anything with Walter Natanael, that suits the age he has stated in the papers. I think he must be born around 1894, and that is useful in further search. (year 1917 minus 23, as he is 23 in maybe July, August, 1917)

I decide to go back again to the Australian archive under his profile, and I the find some interesting facts. I still don’t know if he is born in Sweden or not.

Ah, his name is not Walter Natanael, it is actually Valdemar Natanael, very good lead in further investigation.

I go back again to the Swedish archives and use “Valdemar” instead of Walter. I find quite many though, but decide to also use the name of the relatives, especially Carolina.

Interesting. I find a family from Väddö, north of Stockholm, on the east coast. I see quiet fast that the family contains a Valdemar Natanael, a mother, Carolina, and a father, Johan. Johan … maybe Guhin (from above) is Johan? Probably. I feel it is burning now. The surname of the family is also Petterson.

Scanning many pages in the church book within this family, but nothing points to Australia, nothing at all. I see that Natanael is a sailor, like 90% of all the other Swedish soldiers that fought for Australia.

Finally, on the last page, I find what I am looking for, marked with a pencil.

“Australia”, In America” and also “fell in the war in France” written with a pen. Out on the right side is the death date, but it says April 11th, 1918 instead of March 28, 1918. It comes from the Swedish church book, about his death, that says “Fell in the war in France, died in the ambulance”, dated April 11th, 1918. The ambulance is also mentioned in the documents from Australian archives.

He seems to have been a quite stubborn gentleman, it is noted a couple of times that he didn’t obey orders and he was punished for that. I can see hin in front of me, a sailor with tatoos, seen a lot, done a lot, and then sometimes it becomes to much to drink. One time in Capetown and one time at sea.

Walter, or Valdemar, was fighting with the 28th Infantry battalion, Australian Imperial Forces, when he was injured somewhere in Hébuterme area in France, around March 28th, 1918. The diary from the unit tells us about the area between Euston and The Quarry, which you can find on the trench map below. Valdemar where probably somewhere in that area when he fell.

Valdemar is buried at La Cauchie Communal cemetery in the region Pas De Calais, France, just southwest of the town Arras. That part of the cemetery just contain 13 headstones, and no 11 is the stone of Valdemar. The stones are in the end of the cemetery if you walk in from the street, and are located in the village communal cemetery.

Walter was not Walter, he was Valdemar. He was born in Sweden, not in North America. I wonder what it was that made him mention another name, and another location of birth. We will never know that, but this kind of story just gives me more energy to really find our Swedes who fought in the Great War.

May Valdemar rest in peace. I will visit you as soon as I can. We will remember them.

The next phase …

I have now found quite many individuals in my research, who are within my criterias for my project, as you can read more about through the main menu at my front page.

So far I have found 412 Swedish born soldiers who all fell and are buried at the Western Front in Belgium and France.

Through the time I almost have learned to know them, in my hunt for facts about their life and faith, before the made their ulimate sacrifice in the Great War. I will now start to make portraits about as many individuals that I can, which later on will be the base of the material in my book that I am planning to write.

A guidebook, for those who want to walk in the footsteps of those Swedes, and see the areas, know the fights and battles they participated and fell in, and it will be really nice to compile all the info that I have, and probably find new facts, not discovered before.

I realize the magnitude of the work, but at the same time, I feel that I owe them to do this. I will be the one who will bring their history into the light, especially for the Swedes in Sweden today, who I think should learn this, the history of our ancestries, what they actually did, when we said that “Sweden did not participate in the World Wars …”

As a country we did not, but the sons of our country did, for their new countries, or the countries they supported, voluntarily.

I will here give you an example of some facts that maybe will be in the portraits of the individuals, a letter from a father who is longing for his son, who died many years before the letter was written …

The letter is found below. The translation into english is found under the letter.

From right to left:

Svineviken, April 28, 1920

Dear Andrew (Anders)

I so hoped would be my son, who from I haven´t heard anything since the War ended, I beg you to write a couple of lines to me so I can hear that you are alive. I am alive and having the health but me and Klara are separated now because it was very hard to manage the hard times during the War, which were present for so long. I have worked in the Feldspar Mine for a year. I now end the letter with a dear greeting to you, good bye for now. My address is August Johansson …

PS. After a lot of trouble, has August Johansson through the Ministry of foreign affair found the address, which August use to write to Andrew (Anders) – August is now working at the Feldspar Mine in Brattås in Svineviken. Andrew has to remember now, to write to his father to make him happy.

Svineviken, May 10th, 1920.

S Martinsson.

Imagine to write to your son around 2,5 years after his death, dont knowing if he is alive or not.

Andrew John Johansson (Anders Johan Johansson), Johansson from his father Johan August Olsson, even if he says August Johansson in the letter. Andrew was born in Tegneby, close to the city of Gothenburg, quite close to Svineviken mentioned in the letter, October 23, 1979.

Andrew became a sailor, and there is not any date stated when he left for Australia, but he made his Statutory Declaration in Adelaide, March 1911, and he arrived to Australia from London in 1908. Probably he left Sweden around that year as well.

Andrew joined the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in Alexandria in June 1916, and proceeded to France. Andrew fought for the 50th Infantry battalion in the Third battle of Ypres and fell October 11, 1917. Andrew is buried in Passchendaele New British Cemetery in Belgium.

For some reason I have missed to take a photo of his headstone when I was in the area, but I will do it next time when in Belgium. May Andrew rest in peace.

Youngest Canadian soldier a Swede?

Reading digitized newspapers from the period of the Great War is so interesting, and this day I stumble over a small article that mention that the soldier who claims to be the youngest enrolled soldier in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces was a Swede with the name of Frank Burstrom. I decided to look this up.

The article says that he just after his 15th birthday left his home in Edmonton, Canada and went to join the Canadian Army.

I easy find his papers from when he registered in the Canadian Army in 1916, and in those papers he claims to be born September 3, 1898, but it also says that he is born in Tromsö, Norway, and other facts points on that.

Some other facts I found in archives says that his father, also named Frank Burström, is Swedish and his mother, Nora, is Norwegian.

I find out that his father is born in Sweden as Frans Bjurström, August 13, 1874, in Norra Råda, Värmland, Sweden, and in the Swedish Church Books I connect the information in the Canadian census file, that he left for North America in 1908.

Franks mother Nora, left a few years after father Frans, and that is also connected to the Canadian census, that mention that she emigrated in 1912. She went over with their sons, Frank was one of them, stated in the papers to be 10 years old, which maybe make it more probable that he was born in 1902, and not in 1898, that he states in the registration papers.

Frank went to England and France in 1917 and was connected to the 77th Artillery battery, and according to the newspaper article he went through the war of a period of 14 months ans a ammunition driver, without any injuries.

His father, Frans, was also over on the Western Front, and he fought for the 197th Regiment. Noth father and son survived, father Frans arriving home in Canada before his son, and I can imagine the joy in the family when all was gathered again.

There is no other evidence than the travel documents that Frank Burström was born in 1902, I havent yet found any data from Norweigian church books, but there is a note in Ancestry Archive that he is born september 3, 1901, but it isn’t confirmed in any way.

Probably the correct date is 1901, if he now claim to just been 15 years when he register for the Army.

So, the article tells us about that a Swede that claims to be the youngest soldier in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, but it turns out that he is probably born in Norway and raised by a Swedish father, and a Norweigian mother, and maybe the date September 3, 1902 is correct, many things points on that.

From a Scandinavian perspective it is an interesting piece of history.