Sunday, 1 March 2015

Dark history part II

Dark history part II

Attempted Suicide
A LITHUANIAN migrant who jumped into the Derwent River from Princes Wharf, Hobart, on November 21 told rescuers that the world was no good and "I kills myself," according to evidence given in the Hobart Police Court yesterday. 
The man is Antanas Simkus, and he was charged with having attempted to kill himself by drowning.
The case was dismissed.
Evidence was given that Simkus told rescuers that he had received word from his brothers and sisters that they could not come to Australia and that the "Russians wanted him back."
James Roy O'Toole, stevedore, told the Coroner (Mr. G. F. Sorell) that he saw Simkus jump into the river from the end of the wharf.
Simkus appeared to hesitate two or three times before jumping, O'Toole said.  In the water, Simkus was keeping afloat with difficulty and was heading towards the centre of the river.  O'Toole said he called to two men in a fishing boat to go to Simkus' assistance, and he threw him a life-buoy.  Ernest Mayne Butler Ford, water side worker, said Simkus pushed the lifebuoy away and kept hitting at the man in the boat when being rescued. 
On the shore, Simkus said he did not want to live, and told of the message from his brothers and sisters.  Keith Frances, Kelly told how Simkus struggled when he and another man towed Simkus to the shore.
Through an interpreter, Simkus told Mr. Sorell that he could not possibly commit suicide as he was such a good-swimmer. He said he was very drunk, and "just went for a swim to refresh himself." He did not remember being on the wharf. He had been drinking cognac.

He assured the Coroner that he had no desire to do such a thing again.
Mr. Sorell said it was necessary for the Crown to prove that Simkus intended to kill himself. His actions and the, evidence were consistent with the whole affair being a drunken escapade. The evidence was not sufficient to prove Simkus tried to take his own life.

Dismissing the charge, Mr. Sorell paid a tribute to persons who had acted "promptly and with good sense" in rescuing Simkus.
The Mercury (Hobart) 2 December 1949

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

V-16 in Antartica 1997

I recently wrote about Dail Opulskis hoisting the Lithuanian flag in Antarctica.  I didn't have a photo but Dail has been in touch and has sent two photos through.  He wrote 'it doesn't look very Antarticky, it was summer after all.  There are icebergs on the horizon'. 
Thankyou Dail, I loved the story and the photos just make it better.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Dark history, Lithuanian Australians

Last year I attended a 'dark tour' of Gawler.  It was filled with tales of murders, mysterious deaths and ghosts.  It was an interesting tour walking around Gawler hearing these stories.  My mind often reverts back to Lithuania and so I began wondering if there were similar tales about Lithuanians in Australia.  A few evenings spent  on Trove and this is what I found.

Parvil Noguleoitsch, a Lithuanian, a prohibited immigrant, was arrested at Fremantle on November 27. An attempt was made to find a Lithuanian consul to guarantee the necessary money to enable the man to land. The attempt was unsuccessful, and he was sentenced to deportation. He was placed on the Minderoo, but jumped overboard shortly after the vessel left Fremantle last Friday. No trace has since been found of him, and it is feared that he has been eaten by sharks.
Westralian Worker 23 December 1927

Having failed to hang himself on Saturday night, a Lithuanian named Art Shiparo, aged 40, swallowed citric acid in his room at Darlinghurst last night and died in great agony. The deceased, whose wife is in her native country, had a banking account of over £1000. Digitisation generously supported

The Braidwood Review & District Advocate 11 April 1933
More to come.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Lithuanian Independence day

In 1997, Donatas Opulskis (Dail) born in Adelaide, visited Antartica for the second time to work for a stint in communications.  On February 16th, Dail hoisted a lithuanian flag near an Australian flag for Lithuania's independence day.
This is not a picture of the flag, I didn't have one, so used a photo from the internet.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Early Lithuanians in Australia

I am very excited to announce there is a new blog dealing with the history of Lithuanians in Australia.  This one is looking at those who arrived pre 1947.  Research is undertaken by Jonas Mockunas, now Canberra based who has taken this project on board.

This blog will explore the stories of those Lithuanians and their near neighbours (Jews, Poles and others) who originated in what is now the republic of Lithuania and who arrived in Australia before 1947 (the year when World War II displaced persons from the occupied Baltic States began to arrive in larger numbers). The earlier arrivals were most often subjects of czarist Russia (1795-1917) or citizens of independent Lithuania (1918-1940). Some migrated to Australia intentionally, others came accidentally; some travelled directly, others arrived here from Scotland, the USA or other countries.

Take a look, maybe you have something to share.

Sunday, 25 January 2015


Petras Andrijaitis
When I think of growing up in the Lithuanian community and going to Lithuanian House, it is always with the memory of this man. We all knew him as Petriukas.

Petras was born in 18 September 1925, not far from Raseinis.  The war interrupted his schooling, when he was forced to flee Lithuania for Germany where he spent years in Displaced Persons camps. He arrived in Melbourne onboard the General M B Stewart on 13 April 1949.
Petras loved sport, he played basketball and volleyball.  He was very active in the Adelaide Vytis sports club, all his life in Adelaide and was made an honorary member.  He held several positions in the Club, sports manager, basketball manager and treasurer.  He would spend several nights per week in sports halls watching Vytis teams play.  If a player was missing, he would also been known to don a uniform to fill in. Twice he went to USA with Australian Lithuanian players.

Petriukas lived in the house on Grey street, Norwood and acted as caretaker to Lithuanian House.  You would see him every Sunday helping out in the kitchen, locking and unlocking doors, cleaning up.  He often made Sunday lunches, he was there to make lunches for the Saturday school children.  For his hard work and dedication he was made an Adelaide Lithuanian life member. 
Petras was a bachelor with no family in Australia.  In Lithuania he had a sister whom he was very close to. His nephews came to visit him in Adelaide at some point.

Prior to his death, Petras moved into the Baltic homes.  His last wish was that this would be written on his headstone. Čia ilsisi lietuvos sūnus toli nuo tėvynės. (Here lies a son of Lithuania far from his homeland).  Petriukas passed away on the 17 February 2007.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Alison St, Athol Park


At the end of Alison st, Athol Park, lived four Lithuanian families.  In number 19 lived the Jučius family, in 21 lived Alfonsas and Birutė Budrys.  Birutė’s sister Emilija had married Antanas Mikeliunas and lived next door in number 23. Directly opposite the Jučius house in number 20 lived the Tirva family, next to them in number 18 lived the Šerelis family until 1960.  They had two daughters, Jučius three girls and a boy, Tirva had a girl and Šereliai had two boys and a girl.  So with 10 young children of similar age they did spend a lot of time together.  Living close by was a young Russian girl who would join in, and was soon speaking Lithuanian as the children were told to speak Lithuanian.   Not everyone got along, Tirvienė and Šereliene were at odds, maybe a reason why they moved.

Between numbers 19, 21, and 23 there were no back fences built at first.  In essence the kids had a huge back yard to play in, one that was filled with fruit vegetables chicken and ducks.  When fences were eventually built they included a gate which would still allow access to each other’s property.

Jučius was a carpenter and assisted his neighbours with building their houses.  The men in the morning would ride their bikes to work at the Holden’s factory.

The Jučiai moved many years later to be closer to family in the east of Adelaide.  The others remained and still remain.

21 Athol st