Saturday, October 11, 2008

"Memories from the Great War"

Interesting article on Gallipoli and its effects on both Australia and New Zealand published today in the NZ Herald.
"It is the stories of the wives and mothers of "boys" who perished on the battlefields of Europe that bring a catch to Professor Bruce Scates' voice. The acclaimed historian has spent years bringing together memories of the Great War. His research stretches from soldiers' letters of 1915 to emails and interviews describing Anzac Day at Long Pine at Gallipoli nearly 90 years later.

But it is the grubby, decomposing files from a Melbourne mental asylum, with their accounts of women who had literally gone mad with grief, that proved the most ambitious part of his book, Return to Gallipoli: Walking the Battlefields of The Great War.

As he says, these women waved their young men goodbye fully expecting them to be "home by Christmas". The Australian - and presumably New Zealand - authorities were so certain the war would be a non-event, the soldiers' identity discs were made of compressed cardboard. And when they were mowed down in the trenches and their identity discs rotted into the mud, their mothers, sisters and girlfriends collapsed."
Read more here.

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