Here is an extract from a charcoal and pen sketch dad did somewhere in France around 1917. The charcoal has mostly rubbed off but the resultant starkness of the pen line well captures the hopeless brutality and sadness of the scene. Is that blood on the RH side?
I found this diary in the cedar title-box in dad’s ‘dug-out’ at Undercliffe and for years thought it was his until I realized the author could spell well and dad couldn’t. I think I know whose diary it is, but I’m not sure. I intend to donate it to the Australian War Memorial when I have established its authorship. In Wounded: a Great War novel, Snow finds his diary after a German air raid, covered in a comrade’s blood. Certainly, the document was very helpful in imagining the book’s plot.
Finding this piece of metal in the cedar title-deed box in dad’s ‘dug out’ shed at Undercliffe was one of the things that prompted me to write the novel. It was dug from a deep wound in dad’s body in August 1918 at Jeancourt, France. In Wounded, Snow is seriously wounded at Passchendaele in 1917 and again in April 1918. His son tells an old Frenchman Gilles:
“… one Anzac Day … he showed me a bullet and a lump of jagged shrapnel, both dug from his body. If only I’d been able to talk to him, maybe I might’ve understood, but I just froze at the sight of those chunks of metal and said nothing, too immature, too full of myself, to know how to react.”
Whenever I see this piece of metal, I realize, as George does in the book, how miraculous it was that dad survived and that I and my children exist at all.
After nearly seven years work on my book, Wounded: a Great War novel, it’s a wonderful feeling to know you’ve completed the task and to the best of your ability.
Wounded is the story of a young man and his friends caught up in one of the greatest catastrophes of human history. It tells how they survive, love and die, and how they continue to ask all of the big questions young people ask about the meaning of life but in a situation where life might end, literally, next heartbeat.
Snow is ambivalent about being in the war. A part of him believes he’s been tricked; emotionally blackmailed into enlisting. The fact is, as soon as his mates, John and Collin signed up, he had to, too. A lot of the time he’s trying to work out what he’s doing there and what, if anything, he still believes in. He struggles hard to remember a home that isn’t there any more. An intense inner war is going on within himself when he meets Cozette and discovers a new reason to go on living.