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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

"portion of the face, showing gunshot wound nose, left upper eyelid"


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An interesting item from the Surgeons' Hall Museums




"A portion of the face, showing a gunshot wound of the nose and left upper eyelid. From a soldier wounded in France, March, 1917. A lacerated wound which has been carefully sutured passes from the right side of the nose across the nasal bridge and just superior to the left upper eyelid to the lateral extremity of the left eyebrow. The nose is deviated to the left. The neighbouring parts show considerable ecchymosis. The lamina cribrosa is deficient and the crista galli is broken off through the foramen caecum. A fissured fracture extends obliquely across the left orbital plate of the frontal bone."


I take it this is a model, and not remains?



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2 minutes ago, jay dubaya said:

I’m not so sure it’s a model Mike it looks like the real thing 




i thought that at first an then thought 'surely not!'




Edited by Skipman
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1 hour ago, Skipman said:

Thanks Charlie. I wonder where the rest of the poor man's remains are, and should they be separate?



I imagine the face was cut off the body and the rest was buried. I guess preserving it for future generations (especially for medical students) is more important than letting it rot with the body. I guess the question is should we have remains of humans on display?

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Liver showing gunshot wound CLICK


  • Liver, showing gunshot wound
  • GC.7755
  • Liver, Segment of a, between parallel sections 55mm. apart, with the cystic duct and a small portion of the gall-bladder attached, showing a gunshot wound. From a soldier wounded in France, 6th October 1915. The wound of entrance (shrapnel?) was in the right eighth intercostal space in the posterior axillary line and there was no wound of exit. The inferior portion of the right chest was dull on percussion and the breath sounds were absent. Fluid aspirated from the right pleural cavity on the sixth day gave a growth of streptococcus. No missile was observed on radiography either in the liver or the lung. Death occurred on the sixteenth day. On post mortem examination there was fracture of the right tenth rib and bloody serum with coagula in the right pleural cavity. The diaphragm and the subjacent right lobe of the liver were perforated. There was no blood in the abdominal cavity. The missile was not discovered at the autopsy. The track of the missile in transverse section shows an irregular ragged perforation passing obliquely through this portion of the liver, the parenchyma in the neighbourhood of the track being contused and necrotic.
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  • Foot, gunshot wound
  • GC.6225
  • Foot, Medial half of a right, showing a gunshot wound. From a soldier wounded in France, 1915. The wound of entrance was on the lateral aspect of the foot, and the missile had passed medially and distally to its exit at the middle of the medial border of the sole. Amputation was performed four months later on account of secondary haemorrhage associated with septic ulceration and necrosis. At the medial border of the plantar aspect of the foot is an oval sinus With inverted edges and darkly discoloured surface. Section shows a recent clot where the missile had destroyed the head of the talus and part of the tarsal navicular and injured the medial cuneiform bone. The bones in the neighbourhood of the blood clot are stained by old blood pigment.
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Definitely the real thing. To get into the morals of it I wouldn't be willing. Human remains are on display publicly and privately all over the world. The Royal College of Surgeons collection in Dublin is closed to the public and contains similar exhibits. If it helps medicine then no harm done IMHO.

Interesting find Skipman.


Edited by depaor01
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I believe the Royal College of Surgeons also has some fairly gruesome Waterloo remains...quite macabre.


On the same topic, the very good museum on the Waterloo battlefield contains four skulls belonging to unknown soldiers-all showing significant sabre, sword or musket ball wounds as well as a full skeleton complete with the musket ball that was found in the grave which presumably killed the soldier. 


I'm not sure how I feel about the morals of displaying human remains as curiosities, whether in a public history museum or an academic collection but seeing those remains and thinking " those belonged to a real human being...if I'd lived in 1815 that might have been me or one of my loved ones" was very thought-provoking.


It illustrated in a way that no photograph can do just how horrific the battle was. Most of the Waterloo dead were burned in vast heaps and then sold as fertilizer or left to rot after having  been looted and in many instances having their teeth removed. 


It seems that at very least the treatment of soldiers' remains 100 years later, in WW1, seems to have been conducted with more respect and reverence...i've not seen WW1 soldiers' remains on display and one gets a very tangible sense of personal gratitude and respect towards those who fought and died in the Great War. 


Just my two cents worth.

Edited by Michael Thomson
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   There was quite a lot of information on GWF when a museum in Philadelphia was displaying the skull of an Australian soldier, who was identifiable as Private Thomas Hurdis and this skull was subsequently returned to the Australians- the rest of his body was in a war grave in France.

   The British  took a lot of "samples"-which could be quite large body parts.  The Royal College of Surgeons  organised the taking and share-out of this stuff-  one helluva lot of it.There is an old catalogue of it but the RCS stuff was destroyed in 1941? by enemy bombing.

  "Tissue sample"  is something of a euphemism for quite large chunks of dead soldiers-and we are talking into the thousands of how much was taken.

About time this stuff was properly buried.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Poor man


Lung, gas poisoning 


Lung, Literal portion of a right, showing changes due to the inhalation of dichlorethyl sulphide. From a soldier in France admitted to hospital on 13th July, 1917, suffering from “shell gas poisoning” of a severe type. He was suffering from lacrimation and burning pain in the throat. Later he developed the physical signs of bronchopneumonia with cardiac dilatation and died on the fifth day. On post-mortem examination the trachea showed ulceration of the mucosa which was bathed in a purulent fluid containing shreds of desquamated membrane. There were some old pleuritic adhesions and the lungs showed many superficial petechiae and on the lower lobe of the left lung a considerable amount of emphysema. The lung is dark and congested and some emphysema marks out the lobules on part of its pleural surface. On section the lung is solid and shows a diffuse bronchopneumonia evidenced by yellowish spots throughout the cut surface where in places they aggregate into larger patches.

LUNG, right

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  • 2 weeks later...

The number of days elapsing between wound, surgery and death puts a context on "died of wounds".  Sixteen days, suffering from infection and the original trauma, for example, makes killed in action look almost inviting by comparison!

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