Author(s): Jock Vennell
Almost a generation of the best young men were wiped out... In all walks of life many of those who would have been the leaders were missing... Not only these men, but those who would have been their children are missing, and we have had to do our best without them.
Sir Douglas Robb. An undergraduate in 1917, he later became a leading surgeon and Chancellor of the University of Auckland
This is the tragedy of World War I, which the latest book by Jock Vennell chronicles. He tells the story of an Invercargill family of five brothers ¿ the Christophers. All but one served overseas at Gallipoli and on the Western Front and none returned home. They were among the more than 18,000 young men who lost their lives fighting in the interests of the British Empire to which they and their country belonged.
Countless others came home so physically and mentally damaged that they could play no useful part in post-war society. And their wives, sweethearts and families suffered because many of the men who returned were so changed by what they had seen and done that they were never able to live normal lives. They were the other casualties of war and their sufferings were not properly acknowledged by the government of the day.
But the damage went deeper. The four- year conflict imposed a huge economic cost on our developing nation, creating a turmoil that continued even after the war. It disrupted nationally important industries and social services, and limited personal freedoms.
Through the lives and deaths of the four Christophers brothers, military historian Jock Vennell throws fresh light on the impact of World War I on our small colonial society and its true cost in the destruction of so many ¿ not only those killed but also those who survived. He looks at why so many answered the call to serve their King, country and Empire, even when other family members had been killed. And through For King and Country he looks at the hardships and horrors that so many of these soldiers had to endure.