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Rachel Pratt

Another story part of the One Hundred Stories is the Rachael Pratt story. She wins the Military Medal and she’s the only nurse to do so and that’s something you read about every Anzac Day. What people do not write about every Anzac Day is what happens to Rachael after the war. They do not talk about a woman, who loses all purpose in life; who suffers from post-war trauma. They do not talk about that shard of shrapnel that is lodged in her lung and they do not talk about what the doctors did to her. They do not talk about the convulsive shock treatment that was used or putting her into a coma for weeks and weeks as part of that primitive treatment. But these are the stories we should be hearing about on Anzac Day not simple heroic stories. These files tell us a great deal about a generation told to sacrifice so much, but let’s face it, given bugger all in return. Promised a land fit for heroes but often sent to marginal land, men and women unable to find remunerative employment often as a direct result of their injuries. ‘I used to cough and spit so much they always found an excuse to discharge me.’ Reliant on inadequate pensions and forced into the position of supplicants; men like Harry here who even had to bludge a smoke from a mate. Imagine the indignity of that - bludging a smoke from a mate. These records also span a vast emotional and political range.

BS