The emigrated soldiers – Where did they live, where did the move?

I have a lot of data in my database, about all, so far, 425 Swedish born soldiers who fought and fell at the Western Front in the Great War. I decided to combine some of the data and put it together in another context.

In this case I have looked up data about where they lived when they were born in Sweden, and to which place they moved to, when they emigrated. I have decided to put the data into Google Earth Map projects, to get a picture of where they lived before they went over to thye Western Front. First out to be finished so far are the soldiers who fought for the American Expeditionary Forces, at this moment 236 soldiers.

You can click on the photo below to reach the project in itself, where you can click on the soldiers names, and see a map over where they lived in Sweden, and in some cases also a photo of the soldier. You have to have Google Earth program installed to be able to see the project.

Still under development

The next project I am working on is putting the Swedish soldiers who emigrated to the British North America (Canada) and fought and fell for the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in a similar Google Earth Project, that shows where they lived In Canada before they went over to France. You can reach the project by clicking on the photo below. The Project is still under construction.

I will try to put in all the 92 confirmed canadian soldiers from those 105 I have in my research on the map, and I will try to find and confirm those soldiers that I haven’t been able to confirm through Swedish church books yet.

…And here they fell, those who fought for the Commonwealth

By clicking on the photo you will be taken to my Google Earth project that shows where those Swedish born soldiers, who fought for the commonwealth, fell and are buried. Here you will also find more information about each individual.

In the main menu above you will also find the link “Virtual tour on map” which will take you to some of the projects seen here on this page, but also one who tells you about around 100 Swedish born soldiers who fell in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.

Just let me know if there are any questions by contacting me thorugh the contact form in the main menu.

A Swedish soldier in 2nd Canadian Tunneling Coy.

During this week I am looking through some names that I haven’t been able to confirm in the Swedish Church books, to actually be those individuals they say they are.

Swedish born soldier Charles Anderson is one of them. If I go back to my created “ww1 Swedish names convention” it can be a Karl Andersson. But both Karl, Carl and the surname Andersson is one of the most common names in Sweden, even back at those times. I decided to try to find more information about him.

This is what I know about our Charles Anderson so far. He claim to be born in Helsingborg in Sweden in December 29, 1888. In his Canadian registration forms he doesn’t mention any Next of Kin from his family, only a friend named Pete Mcdonald. Further down in his papers he is writing his Military Will to a Miss Lydia Smith, Hastings street West No 5, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. There is no information about the relation between Charles And Lydia.

The only thing I can use in this case is the Place of Birth (PoB) as he says is Helsingborg, and also his Date of Birth (DoB). I have found one individual born in Helsingborg, with the correct DoB, in Helsingborg, with the name Charles, and also has some similar notes in the church book, which I so often find on other soldiers that I have in my database.

He is a sailor, as many Swedish born soldiers were, before they went over to their new home countries and became soldiers to fight in the Great War. There is also some notes about that he is absent. He is also removed from the files in Helsingborgs Naval Corps, due to his absence.

His name is Charles Otto Waldemar Jörgenson. Right now it is only one of his names, Charles, DoB and PoB that matches this Charles Anderson. I have tried to find more information about this Charles Otto Waldemar, but it has been difficult. Maybe he finally stopped in Canada and decided to become a citizen after all his travels around the world? We will probably never know. One more document that may indicate that this is Charles Anderson is the registration of his death. In the Swedish Church books he is finally declared dead in 1943, which can explain that his relatives never received any information about his death, as they were not mentioned as Next of Kin.

Even if Charles Anderson is Charles Otto Waldemar or not, I have looked into his military service. Charles served as a soldier in 2nd Canadian Tunneling Coy, as I understand also was a part of 2nd canadian Division. The unit were formed in Alberta and British Columbia and this Company moved to France and into the Ypres sector for instruction. Shortly afterwards, in April 1916, relieved 172nd Company between Tor Top, Armagh Wood and St Eloi. (link)

When reading the diary from the date of Charles Anderson death, which is March 10, 1918, it is mentioned that one O.R (Other Ranks) is killed that day, and that person is according to the diary buried in Wieltje, Nort-East of Ieper, Belgium. Charles is buried at Wieltje at Oxford Road Cemetery. Charles can be the O.R that is mentioned in the diary. In the diary it is also mentioned some places where the unit worked those actual days. Those places are named “Bremen” and “Jackdaw”.

If I search for those places in some trench maps I find “Bremen Redoubt” a bit East of Wieltje, which could mean that they moved to that area and worked. This must be just before the German Spring Offensive which starts March 21. The other place, “Jackdaw” is connected to several places, mainly in the Zillebeke area. Below you can see some snippets from some trench maps, but not from the exact period in 1918. You can also see a map showing the area which the Germans took back in the Spring Offensive, marked with red lines, and also a red marked area which explains the area of the other trench maps.

I really hope I can find more information about this Charles Anderson, if he is connected to Charles Otto Waldemar or not, future will tell. The work in the tunnels must have been very stressful, especially during those countermeasures against German tunnel diggers. They performed a very dangerous work.

As mentioned above, Charles Anderson is buried at Oxford Road Cemetery. He was granted leave and returned to his duty February 11th, 1918, and one month later he was killed by shrapnel. I will visit him later on this summer, to take photos of the area where he worked and where he is buried. May Charles rest in peace.

Swedes reburied at home

I have now extended my research to also include those Swedes who fought on the Western Front, fell there and were buried there, but later on reburied in Sweden, as their relatives wanted their sons to come home to the mother soil.

You will find it in the “soldiers” link in the main menu. So far I have only located photos of the headstones in Sweden from three of the soldiers, but I hope I will locate more of them, when visiting their old home parish. Hopefully they will still be standing there.

The Cavalli brothers

The title sounds like a movie, or could be the name of a TV series. I think it is an interesting story, and it still leaves some questions behind.

This is the small story about the brothers who emigrated from Sweden, from Östersund in Jämtland, and later became soldiers in both the Canadian Overseas forces, and one of them later fell in the Meuse Argonne Offensive, for AEF, and awarded for his achievments.

One evening this week I was looking for some more information about the soldiers that I have in my research, and I stumbled over an advert in one of the newspapers.

It is from someone, later identified as a mother, who turns her message to the homecoming, returned soldiers. She wrote:

Wadena, Sask., Canada.

If any of the homecoming soldiers knew Corporal Mike Cavalli, who fell at the front last autumn, and who met him anytime during the service in France, it would be nice to exchange letters with those. Signed Mrs L Cavalli.”

As this advert was written in Swedish I decided to look up the name mentioned in the text, Mike Cavalli. It turns out that he is from Sweden.

It took a while to find some information about his Swedish name, as I thought that this was a name that he maybe used when he went over to North America. I later find that he is mentioned as Mike Augustianus in the U.S Veterans Administration Master Index and decided to search for Augustianus in the Swedish church books. I did not find any Augustianus, but I found a person named Augustinus, and this is not common in Sweden. The person also had the name Mikael, and I felt that this could be something to look in to.

I searched for his casualty card, as I found out that he died October 7, 1918, and that could have been during the war. I found it.

I can also read from the card that he first was buried near Fleville in the Ardennes, and later moved to Meuse Argonne American Cemetery. The Emergency address is to Mrs L. Cavalli, as I later on found to be his mother Lovisa Eriksson.

I looked into the Swedish Church book again, and tried to find some information about when they left for North America, and finally I found the page that shows some interesting information. I have already started to think about when they could have changed their surname to Cavalli.

The church book says, that his father is Jöns Mikaelsson, or Mickelsson, as it is also written on some of the pages. On his row it is written “Free for another marriage”. He is not with the family when they leave for North America in January 7, 1903, when they leave the town of Östersund, Sweden. I saw that his brother Per Erik also leaves with the family and I will come back to him later.

I don’t find any information about any passenger lists where they whole family is together, but in some document I found out that Mike, and probably the rest of his family, came in through Halifax. They are put up as a family in the church register for St Marks Lutheran Church. I can here see that another man is put together with them, Ludvig Cavalli, also named as Luigi, from Italy. It is probably his surname that Mike takes when he is later on putting his name in different forms.

Mike Cavalli is born as Mikael Augustinus Mikaelsson in Häggenås parish close to the town Östersund in Jämtland, Sweden. He is born August 26, 1886, and he is around 16 years old when the leave for North America. The farm that he is born at is in the part of Häggenås called Kougsta, or today called Kogsta. Their house is not mentioned in the Church Book. When they leave for North America they live in the town center of Östersund, on Prästgatan 38.

I know now that Mike Cavalli belonged to 1st Division, 2nd M.G Battalion in the American Expeditionary Forces. He went in to the forces from North Dakota. Hefell in the Argonne region in October 1918, after hard fightings with the Germans, according the Divisional Diary. He must have made some impression to his superiors and soldiers, as he is awarded the silver star for his actions.

But something cought my eyes when searching for more information about his life. Some documents also mention that he has been registered for the Canadian Overseas Forces, and when looking for his surname I also see another person with the same surname, Pete Erik Cavalli. Both of them has registered for the Canadian Forces. And I look back in the Swedish Church book and can easy see that Pete Erik is Mike’s brother Per Erik.

Mike has been registered for both the Canadian Forces and the American Forces. I try to look for his U.S draft document, but can only find his brother Pete Erik in the U.S draft, June 5th, 1917. It is clear though that Mike fell for the AEF in 1918.

But there is someting strange with both of the brothers documents. Both of them seems to have been absent without leave the same date, October 15th, 1916. And both of them is notes as “S.O.S 15-10-16 as Deserter”. Oh my. “Struck off Strenght as Deserters”. Both of them belonged to the 223rd Battalion.

As far as I see it it is not good to have this text in your military file, but someone who knows better than me, is free to explain the situation, and what happens when this is the fact.

We know that both of the brothers were drafted by U.S Forces, but I wonder if that would be possible if you are noted as a deserter in another army?

As far I can see it, his brother never went over to France, or he survived. I can’t find any shipping documents about that he went over, and I found his census documents when he is living with Luigi and his mother Lovisa in Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1921

Mike Cavalli is today buried at the Meuse Argonne American Cemetery. I wonder how many more soldiers in the U.S Veterans Administration Master Index that are connected to Swedish individuals. If I haven’t seen that advert I would never guessed that this Mike Cavalli originally was from Sweden.

Mike is Swedish born soldier number 418 in my research, within my criterias. I will visit his final resting place one day. May he rest in peace.

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.