War wounds

Ward 31, Harefield Hospital, England - WW1

Just listening to the introductory video by Bruce Scates has made me see the horror of some parts of war like the four waves of Lighthorsemen at the Nek in Gallipoli being used as a diversion, the use of grappling hooks to drag the wounded back to the trenches – what other horrors will we be shown this week?

Our first four videos looked at physical wounds from returning soldiers:

  • Hugo Throssell – wounded twice – but became a pacifist and socialist due to war
  • Gordon Wallace  – hot metal blew up in his face but no widow’s pension after he died – he was drunk
  • Harold Candy – suicide the night before his marriage
  • Bernard Haines – enlisted age 14 – crippled by age 16

My reflection:

When I visited the Australian War Memorial earlier this year, I found that only those soldiers who died in war or within 6 years of returning were listed on the walls there. I think this should be changed – any soldier, sailor, airman or nurse who dies of wounds caused through war, should have their names on the walls there.

Too often a brave soldier will also be brave back at home – all that mateship and so on and also not talking about the negative aspects of war.

The next four videos looked at the psychological damage of returning soldiers:

  • Frank Wilkinson – survived war but not peace
  • Royce Baesjou – died of shellshock – read more about Royce here
  • Rowley Lording – drug addiction after war
  • Unknown patient – identified 11 years after the war – a Kiwi with an Aussie slouch hat

My reflection:

All four stories were compelling in different ways but I wonder whether we have really learnt anything since WW1 in the treatment of psychological problems of returning soldiers. Still not enough hospitals to treat them, not enough housing to look after them, not enough jobs for them to help their families.