Acknowledging those who also served
The research for this project turned up the names of quite a few Diggers who were associated in some way with the Pakenham district, but are not honoured on our WWI memorials and rolls of honour. In many instances, further research indicated that the soldiers in question were not living in Pakenham when they enlisted, but had only settled here after the War. Others were clearly more transient members of the local community: farm hands, labourers, railway workers and a nurse, many of whom never returned to the district after the War. Seemingly, the only way their names made it onto our memorials was if someone (e.g. friends, former school mates or former employers) remembered to include them. Then there were well-established locals like Len Cook, who were rejected for overseas service with the AIF, but nonetheless did “Home Duty” in Australia. This though, did not qualify them for formal recognition. And there are the pure anomalies, such as George Anderson, who met all the “criteria” (i.e. were living locally when they enlisted; had established “roots” in the district; and served with the AIF), but whose names for some reason never made it onto a memorial.
Whilst out of the scope of this book, it is appropriate that these “other Diggers” are also recognised as part of the Centenary of the Armistice. To this end, this part of the website tells the stories of eight of those who also served. A number of others like them have been documented in the Narre Warren & District Family History Group’s excellent publication: “Sacrifice and Patriotism: a World War 1 Walk in Pakenham Cemetery".
William Bruce Ronald (left) at the great Pyramids in Egypt. Bruce was one of the many soldier settlers who made Pakenham their home after WWI. He quickly become a leading grazier, cricketer and citizen in the district. Courtesy of Bill Ronald.