Pakenham in 1914 was a predominately agricultural and horticultural district in what was then known as West Gippsland. Like country towns all over Australia, the people of Pakenham rallied to Britain's call to arms in 1914. Over the next four years, a large proportion of the district's young (and not so young) men served in the armed forces. They fought on battlefields around the world, from tropical Rabaul in New Guinea and the shores and hills of Gallipoli to the deserts of Palestine and the muddy morass that was the Western Front. Of the nearly 150 service personnel honoured on the Pakenham District's WW1 memorials, nearly one in four paid the supreme sacrifice. With many more physically wounded and emotionally scarred by their experiences, it was a big price for a small place like Pakenham to pay.
To mark the centenary of the Armistice which brought WW1 to an end, the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society sponsored a major research project by local historian Patrick Ferry to identify those honoured on the Pakenham District's WW1 memorials. Drawing on original archival records, newspaper accounts, together with diaries letters family stories and photographs provided by many families, BPHS member Patrick Ferry tells the stories of these brave people, and puts faces to the names of over 100 of them a century after the guns fell silent.
Profiles of Pakenham's WW1 Diggers are available online. You can also download a free copy of the book
To mark the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2 in 1945, local historian and Berwick-Pakenham Historical Society member Patrick Ferry is undertaking a project to identify the WW2 service personnel named on the Pakenham & District War Memorial, the Pakenham Upper WW2 Roll of Honour and the Pakenham South War Memorial. The objective is to identify each of the service personnel, tell some of their personal stories and where possible, put a face to the name. A book will be released in April 2020 (subject to grant funding) to ensure that the memory of these brave Diggers is preserved for future generations.
Are you a relative or friend of any of the Pakenham District's WW2 Diggers? Do you have photographs or memorabilia which can help us tell the story of Pakenham's contribution to WW2? If you do, we would love to hear from you!