Local Recruitment Activities
Local recruitment committees were established across the Berwick Shire. The one in Pakenham was chaired by Councillor William Close, while Pakenham South had its own committee with Kitty Fogarty as secretary. Recruitment meetings and drives were organised regularly. At one such meeting in July 1915, speakers included William Keast MLA, Alfred Hillman (a local veteran of the Boer War) and the Shire President, Cr William Carney who was very active in local recruitment activities. Held at a time when local volunteers were fighting at Gallipoli, the meeting must have been a particularly rousing one, as thirteen men being “persuaded to go to the aid of their comrades” (DA 15/7/1915, p. 2). This brought the total number of Pakenham volunteers to that time up to forty-eight, which was said to be almost ten percent of the local population (SBMJ 15/7/1915, p. 2). Special mention was also made how enthusiastic the women who attended the meeting were, including one lady who busily knitted socks for the soldiers throughout the proceedings “except at moments when her enthusiasm was too great to permit her doing this helpful work” (DA 15/7/1915, p. 2). Appeals from those who had already enlisted were also published in the local press, including one from Ted Cook: “Harry Worship and myself would be only too pleased to welcome any more Pakenham lads out here, and hope they may be attached to our lot, as a reunion would liven us up. You can rest assured Pakenham units will acquit themselves equal to their brothers in arms”. To this, Frank Wisewould added: “hoping this may be an incentive to others to follow the good example of those above mentioned” (DA 8/7/1915, p. 2). The farewells given to local volunteers were also used as opportunities to encourage other men to do “their duty” too.
During the Gallipoli campaign, Cr Carney said he had been “sending in men at an average of five a day” from the Berwick Shire (DA 15/7/1915, p. 2). Similarly, it was reported that while a recruitment meeting was being organised for Pakenham Upper ”this is almost unnecessary as Messrs Mullet, Appleton, Copeland, Doyles (2) are at the front, and several other young men have been rejected who have been keen to enlist. There are no ‘cold feet’ here” (DA 27/1/1916 p. 2). A recruitment office was later established at Pakenham, attended daily by Cr. Close. The Berwick Shire’s recruitment officer, Sergeant Gordon was also said to be “doing a good job” (SBMJ 27/1/1916, p.2). When in early 1916 the Australian Government sought to raise what was effectively a new army, Berwick Shire had no difficulty in meeting its unofficial quota of 98 recruits: 173 men came forward, including more than twenty from the Pakenham District (BSN 3/5/1916 p. 3). At the time, Army medical doctors reported the main recruiting problem was actually preventing those who were medically unfit from enlisting (Bean 2014 p. 293). Certainly, a number of Pakenham residents who sought to enlist at this time were ultimately rejected on medical grounds.