This blog is a companion to the Database of Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington

Sunday, October 30, 2016

What happens if you are an Australian Officer with a German name?

On the left is Leonard Seymour, and on the right is Henry Kaufman, winter 1916-17.
Henry Kaufman was born in Box Hill in 1884, the son of a naturalised German farmer and an English mother.  He served in the South African War with the 2nd Scottish Horse, and on returning to Australian joined the Citizens Military Forces. He spent 8 years in the Royal Australian  Artillery, 2 years on the Instructional Staff, and 2 years as a Military Clerk before enlisting in the AIF in mid 1916 with the 3rd Divisional Ammunition Column.

Henry arrived in France in time to suffer the extreme cold of the winter of 1916-1917, becoming ill in February and returning to England for a few months.  In June 1917 he returned to France and was engaged with his battalion in and out of front line duty for the next six months until he became seriously ill with pulmonary tuberculosis and Bronchitis. He returned to England, and then to Australia where he was discharged in April 1918.  Henry then resumed his previous job as a Military Staff Clerk.

But somewhere in darkest Queensland a Labor MP raised the question of enemies of birth or descent being employed in the Defence Department.   Henry got caught up in this net of suspicion.  You can read the full story on The Empire Called and I Answered website.


  1. Readers may be interested in viewing the short film "Westgarthtown and WW1" produced by the Friends of Westgarthtown which looks at how some of the descendants of the German immigrants in this area in the Lalor / Thomastown area were treated by the community.

  2. Thank you Infolass, a great little film, I will do a post with a more direct link to the film.