'A run of bad luck' – How Kiwi soldiers described their wounds


Read an extract from With Them Through Hell on the New Zealand WW100 website:

The more sophisticated and powerful weapons used during the First World War could hurt, maim and kill with terrible, unprecedented accuracy. The often multiple wounds they inflicted were far worse than anything seen before.

A minimising laconicism marked the soldiers’ descriptions of being wounded. This was born partly of the understated male antipodean style and partly of a desire not to unduly alarm anxious family and friends, especially as a condition or prognosis might alter during a letter’s long journey to the southern hemisphere.

‘I got it’ was a popular phrase. ‘I got it in the hip,’ wrote Wanganui man Phil Bennett when he was wounded on Gallipoli on 8 May 1915; ‘I got my little lot through both legs,’ reported Private Walter Tindale on the same day. Like Private A. W. McNeill, hit on 7 August, many said that they had ‘stopped a bullet’. It was all about euphemism. ‘Something of a muggins, aren’t I?’ Lieutenant Frank Turnbull told his mother. ‘Have really only been in two fights and in both of them I have been silly enough to get winged shortly after the start of the affair.’

Read the full extract here.