Sunday, December 13, 2009

Shattered Anzacs: living with the scars of war

Marina Larsson provides a study of the effects of World War I on the lives and on the families of returned soldiers injured during the war. Often through case studies based on interviews with descendants of returned soldiers, examples are provided showing the challenges faced by families.
  • How the soldiers coped with chronic injuries including disfigurement, mental illness and other health problems including tuberculous and in some cases venereal disease.
  • Finding and keeping employment, especially when the former soldier had a disability and was unable to return to the type of employment he had before the war.
  • Implementation of the Soldier Settlement Scheme and why it was often unsuccessful.
  • How returned soldiers fared during the economic depression of the 1930s.
  • Provision of government assistance in the form of disability pensions was available but the amount was usually inadequate when the recipient had a family to support.
  • Reliance of the family on support from family members who were also often supporting other family members in a similar situation or who were family of war dead.
  • Reliance on charities such as the Red Cross, patriotic funds, the Centre for Soldiers' Wives and Mothers and the Tubercular Soldiers' Aid Society for additional and immediate assistance.
  • Commemoration of those who returned but died from war related injuries.
Sixty thousand Australians died during the First World War. Ninety thousand Australians returned home with a disability. Some died shortly after returning home. Some managed to live 'normal' lives after a period of rehabilitation. But the war related injuries of many of the returned soldiers affected their lives and impacted on the lives of their families throughout the returned soldier's life. This book provides an insight as to how injuries incurred by World War I soldiers affected not just the soldier but also immediate family members creating material and psychological impact on the subsequent generation of Australians.

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