The District's First Casualties
In August 1915, the South Bourke & Mornington Journal reported that Private Tom Bryan of Pakenham South had “fallen at the Dardanelles fighting for freedom’s cause ... We extend our sympathies to the sorrowing relatives and mourn his loss with them and, while we do so, we think of him as one among many of our fellow Australians who during their short life, have written such a page in history. A page that Australia and the whole Empire will be proud of as long as time lasts” (SBMJ 5/8/1915, p. 2). Tom, who was killed on 24 June 1915, was regarded as the first volunteer from Pakenham to have died “for all of us” in the War (DA 5/8/1915, p. 2). The first person associated with the Pakenham District to die in the War was actually Brevet-Major George Hebden Raleigh, whose family owned “Goronga” in Pakenham Upper. George was serving with the British Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in England when the War broke out. His squadron flew to France in August 1914, where it took part in reconnaissance missions critical to stopping the German advance on the Marne, as well as bombing raids on key enemy positions and facilities. George was killed on 20 January 1915 when his plane crashed into the sea while he was landing at Dunkirk in France (SMH 27/1/1915, p. 11). Three months later, Lance Corporal Gerald Calcutt, who as a boy had been a student at Pakenham Upper State School, went ashore at Gallipoli with the first Anzacs on 25 April 1915. Later that day, Gerald was reported missing and was never seen again. A military court of inquiry later declared that he had been killed in action that day, although his date of death was officially recorded as 24 May 1915, the day the Anzacs and Turks declared a ceasefire to bury the dead lying on the battlefield.