Erik Katajisto, a seaman from Abo in Finland, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces in 1916, after deserting his ship in Melbourne in 1914. He gave his age as 19 years 11 months and his occupation as bootmaker.
He served with the 45th Battalion on the Western Front and was wounded in action near Messines in 1917. He went AWOL (Absent With Out Leave) for several short periods and was charged with desertion in the field in March 1918. Sentenced to five years in prison, he only served one before being returned to Australia in 1919.
Katajisto settled in South Gippsland after the war and worked as a bootmaker. He married an Australian, Hilda Simpson. Together they had three children: Reinhold, Selma and Erik.
Changing his surname to Kay, Katajisto enlisted in the RAAF during the Second World War. He served at 1 Engineering School, Melbourne, as a Leading Aircraftman from 1942 to 1945. His eldest son, Reinhold, served with the 2/12th Australian Field Regiment in the Middle East, New Guinea and Borneo.
Reproduced courtesy of National Archives of Australia
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