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Kiwis at War: 1915 Wounds of War by Diana Menefy.

May 9, 2015

1915 wounds of warKiwis at War: 1915 Wounds of War by Diana Menefy.  Pub. Scholastic, 2015.

This excellent novel is part 2 of a series on World War 1 and it is essentially the nurses story of the first full year of the war from Gallipoli to the first anniversary in 1916. Diana Menefy brilliantly portrays the war with descriptions that will have you gasping in horror. Nobody should have to go through this.

Nurses brought a degree of humanity to the horrors of war but they were as unprepared for war as were the soldiers and indeed the army and the politicians who decided the war was necessary.

It is essentially the story of cousins Harriet and Mel who served in Egypt and on the hospital ship Maheno as the thousands of wounded soldiers were taken out of ANZAC Cove and repaired with the most basic of techniques. That so many survived was short of a miracle. It was a time without anti-biotics and the nurses and doctors were overwhelmed by the carnage that war produced.

Towards the end of the novel Ellie a nurse friend of Harriet makes the statement “I reckon that if the papers told the truth about the war no-one would come and they would have to call the whole thing off”.

Also evident in the novel is the growing New Zealand nationalism. Kiwis wanted to be with Kiwis and they had an intense dislike of the British- “the idiots in charge can’t admit that they’ve been defeated by the Turks” and “a man’s life is worth nothing to them”.

A little known fact that I picked up is that soldiers often wore their shorts inside out as lice infested the seams.

This is a winner as was the first book in the series. The nurses and the soldiers need to be remember for their incredible bravery not for the stupidity of the politicians and top brass who ran the war.

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