SAARI, Arthur

Service Number: 2402
Enlisted: 8 January 1916, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 12th Machine Gun Company
Born: Helsinki, Finland, 22 March 1891
Home Town: Kalangadoo, Wattle Range, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Natural causes, Melbourne, Victoria, 7 January 1954, aged 62 years
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Eudunda and District WW1 Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

8 Jan 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2402, Adelaide, South Australia
9 Mar 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2402, 32nd Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
9 Mar 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 2402, 32nd Infantry Battalion, RMS Mongolia, Adelaide
19 Apr 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 48th Infantry Battalion
25 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2402, 12th Machine Gun Company, Battle for Pozières
22 Sep 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 2402, 12th Machine Gun Company

Arthur Saari's Distinguished Conduct Medal Citation

At Pozieres on the night of the 5th/6th August when acting as runner, Pte. Saari (spelt Sarri) worked his way through heavy enemy barrage and although twice buried by exploding shells, he preserved and successfully delivered a most important message.
This man Did continuous good work as runner during the period 5th. to 15th. August, when he was conspicuous for his bravery and devotion to duty.

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Information from Service Papers and Russian Anzacs:

Arthur Saari was born on the 22 March, 1891 at Helsignfors (now Helsinki) in Finland, which at the time was under control by the Russian Empire to Adolf and Mina Saari.

He arrived in Australia on the 22 June, 1913 at Melbourne on-board the ship Farvoll.

He enlisted on the 8 January 1916 and stated that he was 25 years old and single, working as a labourer and living in the states south at Kalangadoo.

He was allotted to the 4th Reinforcements of the 32nd Battalion and embarked with them at Adelaide on the 9 March, 1916 on RMS Mongolia. Once in Egypt he was transferred to the 48th Battalion on the 19 April, 1916 at Serapeum. Proceeding to join the BEF in Europe on the Western Front he embarked with rest of the 48th Battalion at Alexandrina on the 2 June, 1916. He arrived with the battalion at Marseilles on the 9 June, 1916 and then hopped on a transport train that took the battalion to Northern France.

On the 25 July, 1916 he was attached to the 12 Machine Gun Company. During this current point in time in the war, each Australian Brigade had one Machine Gun Company and it was numbered to reflect the Brigade it served in. The troops serving in the Machine Gun Companies were drawn from the Brigade to which the Machine Gun Company belonged. In Arthur's case, the 48th Battalion to which he belonged, was part of the 12 Brigade and as a result he was attached to serve with 12 Machine Gun Company.

The 12 Machine Gun Company saw action on the Western Front relatively quickly with it been thrown into the bitter fighting at Pozieres as part of the Great Allied Somme Offensive. The campaign at Pozieres was harsh and in just 5 weeks of fighting Australian units had suffered a total of 23,000 casualties. Fortunately, Arthur wasn't one of them. In fact, during the campaign Arthur distinguished himself by serving as the 12 machine Gun Company’s runner. For his actions during the Pozieres Battle he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) on the 4 October, 1916.

On the 3 March, 1917 he was formally transferred from the 48th Battalion to the 12 Machine Gun Company to which he join 3 days later on the 6 May. Arthur continued to serve with the unit throughout 1917.

Then in 1918 the AIF decided to join the Machine Gun Companies together to form Machine Gun Battalions. In each of Australia's five divisions on the Western Front in 1918 they had 4 Machine Gun Companies, these four companies from each division were officially joined together to form one Machine Gun Battalion which was attached to the same Division. Therefore, by the end of this there were five Machine Gun Battalions, one in each Division. In Arthur's case, the 12 Machine Company joined together with the 4th, 13th and 24th Machine Gun Companies to form the 4th Machine Gun Battalion attached to the 4th Australian Division.

Arthur's service papers note that he was officially transferred from the 12 Machine Gun Company to the 4th Machine Gun Battalion on the 2 June, 1918. Arthur later put in for leave and on the 7 September he proceed to the UK before re-joining the 4th Machine Gun Battalion on the 25 September, 1918 where he served out the rest of the war with them.

On the 30 May, 1919 he was marched back to England and on the 9 April joined the 3rd Training Battalion. He left England on the 15 June, 1919 on HT Swakopmund and disembarked at Adelaide on the 30 July, 1919.

Arthur Saari was formally discharged from the AIF on the 22 September, 1919.

Back in Australian he went under the alias Arthur Island. In 1923 he married Tyne Lustig who was born in Kotka, Finland, but had since moved to Australia. He moved around a bit living in Adelaide, Sydney, Newcastle and New Zealand before finally living in Melbourne where he died in 1954. 

British War Medal: 10749

Victory Medal: 10670


Nathan Rohrlach, April 2014.