Thou­sands bore war in­juries for life


Dur­ing World War I, 41,000 wounds to New Zealand sol­diers were treated.

Wounded, a new tem­po­rary ex­hi­bi­tion, has opened at The Great War Ex­hi­bi­tion, high­light­ing the ef­fect of the con­flict on in­jured ser­vi­cepeo­ple.

The eight-minute au­dio-vis­ual ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures per­sonal ac­counts of those in the war, us­ing ex­tracts from their di­aries and letters.

‘‘Voices’’ of sol­diers, nurses, chap­lains and doc­tors nar­rate the per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences of sol­diers and the dev­as­ta­tion suf­fered by the in­jured.

Wounded is the lat­est in a se­ries of seven tem­po­rary ex­hi­bi­tions called Chap­ters of the Great War, cre­ated by Story Inc.

Ex­hi­bi­tions man­ager Ian Wards says the ex­hi­bi­tion was de­signed to be a sober­ing, re­al­is­tic por­trait of what war was like for the sol­diers.

‘‘It’s very easy to sani­tise the na­ture of the war­fare,’’ he says.

‘‘Th­ese were young men in the prime of their lives, of­ten get­ting slaugh­tered … with the Wounded ex­hi­bi­tion we re­ally just wanted to make it quite clear to the pub­lic that this was a very grim ex­pe­ri­ence for th­ese young men and some­thing they car­ried for the rest of their lives.’’

The war was in an age be­fore an­tibi­otics and mod­ern med­i­cal sci­ence was just de­vel­op­ing, he says.

A lot of thought went into how to strike a bal­ance be­tween show­ing the hor­ror of war, but not trau­ma­tis­ing vis­i­tors, he says.

Wounded fea­tures four fa­cial mod­els made by Henry Pick­er­ill which show the dif­fer­ent stages of re­con­struct­ing a sol­dier’s face.

One, made from plas­ter of Paris, is a mould of a sol­dier’s face, Wards says.

Us­ing den­tal tech­niques, over six months Pick­er­ill tight­ened screws in the sol­dier’s jaw, draw- ing it up to give a more nat­u­ral struc­ture.

‘‘As one of the nurses in one of the ex­hi­bi­tions says, the fa­cial wounds were the worst,’’ Wards says. Nurses of­ten had to tell sol­diers they would never see, or talk again.

Wards says The Great War Ex­hi­bi­tion, which runs over the four-year WWI centenary pe­riod, has only a lim­ited time to cover many top­ics, which is why short­term, tem­po­rary, ex­hi­bi­tions


98,950 NewZealan­ders served overseas in­WWI 80 per cent were vol­un­teers 20 per cent were con­scripted 18,000 NewZealan­ders died 41,000 wounds were treated - some of th­ese may have been peo­ple who were wounded more than once, or who later died. were cre­ated.

Fur­ther tem­po­rary ex­hi­bi­tions in the Chap­ters of the Great War se­ries in­clude dis­sent and op­po­si­tion, the hor­ror of Passchendaele, the Mid­dle East, women in war, the last 100 days, the ar­mistice and peace.

A for­mal pho­to­graph of the New Zealand Welling­ton Reg­i­ment in World War I, top. In the im­age un­der­neath, the pic­ture is coloured with black for each dead sol­dier, and red for the wounded.


The ar­ti­fi­cial hand of A McMil­lan, shown here in France.

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