You know, I am as wholesome as the next Mum. I don't give my children toy guns to play with and I don't approve of war games, but I couldn't be prouder of my two grandfathers, both of whom went to WWI and fought at Paschendale, the Somme, and Gallipoli. This was my mother's father, Douglas Rawei McLean. He was a machine gunner. He went first to Gallipoli, and then to France, fighting at the Somme. He returned to NZ at the end of the war in one piece, his only enduring injury being a piece of shrapnel lodged in his skull, which made the hair surrounding that part turn white.
We still have his letters, certificates, leave notices, postcards, and photos from the army. This morning I was reading the letter in which he describes the fateful moment of his injury.
"Last Wednesday when were were in the (censored) a bomb landed between the chap on my left and myself. I dived for the corner but was not quite quick enough and got a piece in the back of my head. It pulled up against the bone and I've suffered only a slight wound which does not prevent me from carrying on. There is some consolation in having a thick head after all."
Good to see he kept his sense of humour throughout!
It's a sad, sad thing, reading through his letters. All those sons, brothers, and fathers who didn't come home.