Wounded in the War

Medical care struggled to keep up with the casualties inflicted by the new machinery of war.

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Infection was common as there were no antibiotics at the time. Battles took place in unsanitary trenches dug in fertile soil that would have been a plentiful source of bacteria.

First aid kits, like this one, were carried by medical officers.


John Marris talks about his grandfather Arthur who was twice wounded at Gallipoli.

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J Arthur Sydney Marris

Courtesy of John Marris. All Rights Reserved

Wounded at Gallipoli

Arthur Marris was injured twice at Gallipoli. On 8 May 1915, just 2 days after landing at Cape Hellas, he was shot. The bullet entered his right arm, passed through his leg and lodged behind his knee. He was taken to a Clearing Station and then put on board the Franconia, which took him to a hospital in Alexandria.

He fully recovered and returned to Gallipoli. On 11 August 1915, he received a scalp wound, which he described as a “crack on head”. He waited on a beach before being taken by a mine sweeper to the hospital ship Gascon. Arthur’s experiences at Gallipoli were typical of the disorganised medical evacuations experienced there, which was in part due to the geography of the peninsula.

The bullet thought to have injured Arthur Marris

Courtesy of John Marris

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Wounded on the Western Front

In the early hours of the morning on 5 May 1917, Arthur was sleeping in a hut when a shell exploded just outside, sending a fragment through the building and cutting a groove in the top of his skull. This injury ended his active frontline service and he was taken to a Casualty Clearing Station in Bailleul, France and then to Hornchurch Convalescent Hospital in England. Medical evacuation on the Western Front was more organised than Gallipoli.

Rewi Alley ex ATL2

Private Rewi Alley of the 1st Battalion Canterbury Regiment photographed in England after recovering from his near-death experience. A week before he was wounded, Rewi gained valuable intelligence information during the battle for the town of Bapaume on the Somme in France. “His coolness and courage” under heavy fire earned him a Military Medal.

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One Man’s Journey

Born in Springfield, Canterbury, Rewi Alley is well known for fostering relationships between New Zealand and China, where he lived from 1927.

Adding 9 months to his age, Rewi enlisted in March 1917, turning 20 just before he left Britain for France in January 1918. Wounded in the arm in April, Rewi recovered in a couple of weeks and was sent back to the front.

In September 1918, he was wounded again, this time badly, with the bullet exiting near his spine. Ongoing fighting meant that he spent a night in a horse manure pit before being stretchered to a Regimental Aid Post. He then survived a long and painful ambulance ride to a Casualty Clearing Station. Not expected to live but still alive the next morning, Rewi was sent on to a Stationary Hospital for an operation and then to a General Hospital in England to recover.