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Australian Families’ Responses to War Death and Disability after the First World War Dr Marina Larsson.

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Presentation on theme: "Australian Families’ Responses to War Death and Disability after the First World War Dr Marina Larsson."— Presentation transcript:

1 Australian Families’ Responses to War Death and Disability after the First World War Dr Marina Larsson

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3 Background Honorary Research Associate La Trobe Shattered Anzacs 2009 Anzac Legacies 2010

4 VCE Focus Examine: The ways in which Australians responded to particular threats and whether this led to a rethinking of old certainties. The ways in which Australians acted in response to a significant crisis faced by the country.

5 Lecture Focus ► ► War as a crisis for the family. ► ► The crisis of war did not end in 1918.

6 War as a crisis for families ► ► Families make up the social fabric. ► ► War affects more than just soldiers. ► ► It was in families that the painful costs of war were managed. ► ► Aftermath of war endures beyond 1918.

7 Who were the men of the First AIF?  Half aged  80% unmarried  80% tradesmen, labourers, ‘country calling’  Multiple deaths/disablement in one family.

8 1920s-30s About 2-3 Australian ex-servicemen died from war-related causes per day. AG Butler, The Official History of the Australian Army Medical Services, vol. 3, p. 965.Statistics 324,000 Served Overseas 60,000 Dead 152,000 ‘Incidents of Wounding’ 90,000+ Pensioned Disabled Ex-servicemen (1920 Data) Returned Men (Number?) 1.No disability; or 2.Unpensioned disabilities.

9 Impact during Deaths , , , , Soldiers invalided home because of disability , , , , , ,

10 The Age 24 April 1937 In Memoriam notices, the day before Anzac Day

11 War Death ( ) ► A noble death? ► Modern technologies of mutilation. ► Massive scale of death. ► 20% members of AIF dead. ► ¾ all deaths occurred Western Front. Bodies of Australian soldiers Ypres Sector, Belgium. 20 September 1917

12 Grief and Loss Fellow soldiers (battlefront)  Witness death.  Bury dead.  Write to families Bodies of Dead Soldiers Gallipoli, Families (homefront)  Must grieve in absence of body.  44% AIF (25,000) missing bodies.  80% AIF unmarried, 52% aged  Parents are primary grievers. War Memorials  Surrogate graves.  Sites of mourning. Alphington War Memorial, built 1921.

13 War Disability and Families  Start returning mid  Diversity of disabilities (internal damage, missing body parts, blindness, paralysis, lung damage, shell shock)  Family: a site of repatriation.  Women: caregivers.  Entire families need to adjust.  Economic impact  Emotional impact

14 War Disability Economic Impact

15 Most disabled soldiers received only partial pensions (data from 1924) War Disability Economic Impact

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17  Family life transformed.  Family caregiving Wives and mothers  Shell shock  Wives = nurses. War Disability Emotional Impact

18 Impact on Family Relationships Families under pressure  Financial worries  Violence, alcohol  Marriage breakdown  Abandonment Resilient families  Financial resources  Family support  Type of disability

19 Burdens of Family Caregiving Dear Sir, I feel it is my duty to write a few lines to you to let you know how my son [Herbert] is progressing … He is not going back any: all the same he is not normal and I doubt he will ever be... he gets up and goes to bed as he likes, and he is now trying his best to work up a little Bee farm … before the war Bee stings had no effect on him but he don’t take so kindly to them now. Too nervy I think …I hope whenever it comes you will speak on behalf of him for a pension for him: his father is 73 years and I am 65 years: and the home is always here for him. He is now over 40 years and his life is blighted. It has been a long war for us … I remain yours truly, Clara Stephens [October 1927 ]

20 The Postwar Dead  Soldiers dying from wounds in Australia 1915 onwards.  Ways of death/grief different from battlefield. ► Presence of family, presence of a body. ► Can have a funeral/grave. ► Varying emotional consequences.  But marginalised in national memory. Herald, 6 October 1932.

21 Summary  War wounds soldiers and civilians.  Families: locus for dealing with aftermath.  Families’ burdens:  Grief - resulting from death/disability  Caregiving.  Economic.  Emotional.  When does the aftermath end?

22 Alfred Plane, lost leg John Hargreaves Shell shock Frank Falconer Head injuries Conclusion The human crisis/cost of war.


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