A deeply damaged man

An office boy from Leichardt NSW, Noble Black embarked for war in 1916. He served in the Field Artillery, was badly gassed and witnessed the horrors of war. Black was one of thousands of shell shock cases, men who were described as ‘nervy’, who jumped at the slightest sound, and could barely walk with fear. He was also given to ‘violent outbursts’, terrifying his wife and children. At the height of the Great Depression, Black was separated from his family and sent to Callan Park Asylum. This story show us the physical and psychological damage wrought by war and its legacy of domestic violence. Post traumatic stress disorder reduced brave men to pitiful wreaks. It blighted young lives and broke up thousands of households.

For full attribution of sources, suggestions for further reading and an extended version of the story itself see ‘A deeply damaged man: Noble Black’ in Bruce Scates, Rebecca Wheatley and Laura James, World War One: A History in 100 Stories (Melbourne, Penguin/Viking, 2015) pp. 14-5; 354.