That's a very moving little exhibition. As well as their weary gaze at the camera, the photos show their rough quality clothes and basic technology used to deal with the impairment such as prosthetic limbs. They were really at the forefront of that idea of rehabilitation.
There has been a recent exhibition in the UK of people wounded in the Afghanistan war in which the subjects are willing participants in the photos which has a quite different feel. By musician Bryan Adams
It sounds like an amazing exhibition; a shame the media paid it so little attention during the Gallipoli centenary. The Pogues version of 'And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda' tears me up every time I hear it.
Thanks Robyn, good to remember and recollect this exhibition. Iv isited it when first it opened and I wouldn't mind betting the solitude I experienced as I wandered around and wondered is still a common experience. It is surely not easy to find. And thinking of all of our casualties, it is shameful that we have devoted so little space to remembering and reflecting. The British Imperial War Museum has a much broader and inclusive kaupapa, and in this tiny fleck of homage to some of those who pay the price of war (and as singer Judy Small reminds us, it's not only men in uniform ) a few of us have had the chance to see a bit behind the curtain. But those guys, they came back to an unfriendly social climate. So much suffering. So little remembering
We all need to remember that this is still a contemporaneous issue. We have had 1000s of NZers on operations in war zones in the last decade – Timor Leste, Afghanistan etc. While we have had some with physical injuries, which are often highly visible, on the other hand, PTSD is also there – say between 5-15% rate depending on the mission (some are obviously worse than others). So there are a significant numbers of “vets”, some in their early 20s, who are psychologically disabled.
It sounds like an amazing exhibition; a shame the media paid it so little attention during the Gallipoli centenary. The Pogues version of ‘And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ tears me up every time I hear it.
The same sort of thing prompted me to create this image.
Thanks for the extra info Hilary. It is indeed a moving exhibition.
Coincidently my bedtime reading over the past few months has consisted of three novels that feature characters deeply impacted by their war experiences.
Two are New Zealand novels, "Let the River Run", by Vincent O'Sullivan and "Newlands", by Gary Langford.
Both have characters who's war experiences have left them incapable of returning to 'mainstream' life.
The other novel is by Laurie R. King, called "Folly". The central character is struggling her own severe mental health issues and she connects with her late uncle, a mustard gassed, shell shocked 'survivor' of the Great War.
"November 11, 1918.
They tell me Great War is over. The church bells ring out, and the streets filled with shiny, upturned faces and I had to walk and walk to find a place where I could stand beneath a tree and scream and scream and scream.
November 28, 1918,
Thanksgiving Day. Why?
I left the house and found my screaming tree again, but it seemed to me that the rivulets at its feet were too shallow to drown a man."
Excellent post Robyn.
I find June Tabor's version of that song deeply affecting, much more so than the usual ones.
I suspect that few to no soldiers come out of war unaffected, the few I've known have all had quirks as a result. And my grandparents were variously wounded, one grandfather dying early after years of increasing pain (and restricted mobility) as a result of wounds.
Australia had an issue with Vietnam vets killing people at a higher rate than the rest of the population, most often themselves. And as hidden disbilities go death is pretty severe. Although I've seen contrary claims from the USA, that their ex-military are less prone to issues than similar people who've not been in the military.
Thanks for this excellent post Robyn.
I'm thinking of the families of the VietNam vets who are the inheritors of agent orange; of successive governments' neglect; of how loyalty often goes only one way between citizens and the State
Thanks Martin and others. Yes, I guess that was partly my point. Those disabled by war are something of an embarassment to the nation. As Hilary says a very moving exhibition, and very modest and unsung compared to the larger, more widely promoted Galipoli exhibition at Te Papa.
John Masters kept the maps which were needed to prove Kiwi Troops were sprayed. He was known affectionately as Mother Hen.
Blog post by Te Papa curator Kirstie Ross also has links to several of the photos
Just went with an out of towner to see this exhibition. Unfortunately it closed two days ago. Yet the other one with the plastic giants and artificial wounds had a huge queue.