Monday, 19 December 2011

Adelaide Lithuanian Museum & Archives

The Adelaide Lithuanian Museum has been collecting material since the 1950’s. It has become a unique storage house of items brought from Lithuania and items made in Australia by people of Lithuanian heritage; mainly art, craft and printed material.

As early as 1961, the Adelaide Community Council appealed to the community for historical items relating to Lithuania. Jonas Vanagas, founder of the Lobethal museum on his own initiate had already begun to collect material. After the opening of the Lobethal museum, Vanagas found himself collecting printed material and clippings from Australian newspapers that made mention of Lithuania. Jonas Vanagas was appointed curator of the would be Museum and Archives.

The initial aim of the museum was to gather and protect Australian Lithuanian material and other documents relating to life in Australia. It was envisaged a museum could help the youth become familiar with their history and culture.

A purposely built museum and archives were constructed at the rear of Lithuanian House. A large room formed the museum, and a partially underground small room would serve as the Archives.

By 1967 enough material had been collected to conduct the official opening. On January 28th, 1967, Juozas Bachunas, President of the World Lithuanian Association cut the ribbon and declared the museum officially open. Speeches were presented by the Adelaide Lithuanian Community President, Z. Vabolis and the Adelaide Lithuanian Society president P. Bielskis.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Captain Zakis

Eduardas Zakis was born 20 April 1904 in Krasniskiu village, Birzai. He attended the Zemelis school and in 1923 enrolled in the Military school. On 7th September, Eduardas was promoted to Lieutenant.
1927 09 30 Completed the physical education courses at the Senior Officers of DLK Vytautas.
1928 02 22 Assigned to a squadron as an officer.
1928 11 23 promoted to Chief First Lieutenant.
1930 04 30 appointed to the regiment of physical training as Assistant Manager.
1931 11 14 moved to 3rd Squadron.
1931 12 15 Regiment of Education appointed an Assistant Manager.
1933 01 08 sent to courses, appointed to the Sixth squadron.
1933 09 25 severely injured in a bomb explosion.
1933 10 09 graduated from the Weapons of air intelligence course.
1935 01 18 appointed liaison team chief officer.
October 1935 moved to the Third Cavalry Regiment, designated as Engineering Squadron commander.
1935 10 24 passed exams to gain a higher degree, promoted to Captain.
1939 10 13 - 10 28 participated in the march in Vilnius.
During the Soviet Union occupation of Lithuania in 1940 he was dismissed from the army. Towards the end of the war, he moved to the West. He arrived in Australia with his wife Aldona in May 1949 and settled in Adelaide.

He was awarded:
DLK Grade 4 Order of Gediminas (1938)
Lithuanian Independence Medal (1928).

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Major Jonas Pyragius

J. Jasevicius, J. Pyragius, Lendraitis

Lithuanian Air force Major
Born on 29 December 1901 or Jan 1 1902 in Birziai, coming from a farming family. In 1919 he entered the Lithuanian Army. In 1920 he enrolled in military school, by the end of that year he was promoted to artillery lieutenant and assigned to the Engineering division of the armoured vehicle.

In 1922 he graduated from the High Officers Course and assigned to the armoured vehicle command. In 1923 he was promoted chief First Lieutenant. In November that year he was assigned as Platoon Commander of an armoured division. In 1924 moved to Naval aviation, and in June 1925 became a pilot of the fourth air squadron. On the 13th of February he was promoted to Major. 1932 10 appointed Squadron Commander.

June 1940The Soviet Union occupied Lithuania and Jonas fled to Germany. During the German-Soviet war, he returned to Lithuania, led the rebellion against the Gestapo Lithuanian provisional government. Towards the end of 1944, moved to Germany. From 1947-48 lived in Gross Hesepe, Lithuanian refugee camp.

In June 1949 he emigrated to Australia. He was an active participant in the Lithuanian community and managed the Adelaide Lithuanian Museum and participated war veterans activities. He was a founding member of the Adelaide Lithuanian Association, their first secretary and later Vice-President. He curated the museum from 1970 to 1975.

Jonas died on the 14th October 1975. He was survived by his daughter Ona Dalia Gordon. His wife passed away in 1969. When Lithuania regained its independence his daughter carried out his fathers wishes in donating his awards and collection to the Lithuanian Aviation Museum.
He was awarded numerous medals.
  • Grade 4 Order of Gediminas (1928), DLK Gedimino 4 laipsnio ordinu (1928).Awarded to citizens of Lithuania for outstanding performance in civil and public offices.
  • Medal of the Volunteer Founders of the Army (1929), Savanorio medaliu (1929).The medal was instituted oto acknowledge those who had participated in the War of Independence of 1918 to 1920.
  • Lithuanian Independence Medal (1928), Lietuvos nepriklausomybės medaliu (1928). Awarded to those who rendered public service in the early days of independence (1918-1919).
  • "Wings of Steel" Medal of Honour 1932, Plieno sparnų garbės ženklu (1932).