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.