The Damaged Soldiers

Otis Historical Archives National Museum of Health and Medicine –
Reeve041476 –
Use of electrical apparatus. Bergonic chair for giving general electric treatment for psychological effect, in psycho-neurotic cases. World War 1 era. Selected by Kathleen.

To commemorate the centenary of the Armistice that ended the First World War, this is my writing imagining myself as an Australian journalist during World War 1 observing what the war had done to the soldiers mentally and psychologically.

This year, 1916, Australia – as one of the dominion of the British Empire – is already in the third year at war with Germany.

While thousands of Australian men, with great enthusiasm, initially rushed to volunteer to join the Australian forces, the sheer number of Australian casualties, the falling number of men stepping forward to take up military service has led to the Conscription Referendum that was held and defeated in October this year.

The gruesome effect of war not only is felt by the family and community griefs for the fallen soldiers but also on the returned service men who are disabled physically and psychologically. Some of these men, mentally damaged, can never re-integrate into a post-service life in the society successfully as expected.

The newspaper had me sent to two Australian hospitals overseas to learn what has happened to these ex–servicemen.

But wait there’s more!