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.