Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

MAIMED IN THE GREAT WAR


Katie Elizabeth Stewart
 Share

Recommended Posts

On my hotmail account, an advert flashed across the screen. It was atypical of the sort one usually sees - 'Buy Iceland Turkeys for Christmas' or whatever. It read: 'Henry Lumley, Royal Flying Corps.' Then, it gave a date of a crash in 1916 and said 'horrific burns to face and neck.' With something of a sense of foreboding, I clicked the link. Further examination found it to be a report on the updates to the new skin grafting exhibition at the British Army Museum, entitled 'Faces of Battle.' Just one glance was enough to show me that here was something I did not know about the Great War - obviously, I knew that infantrymen with their heads above the parapet but not the remainder of their bodies were extremely susceptible to horrific wounds to the face and neck such as Lumley's, but nothing, NOTHING could have prepared me for what I saw, and frankly I am having trouble getting it out of my mind. Please only click this link if you have a realistic idea of just the level of physical damage artillery could inflict. I realise this probably includes almost everyone on the forum, but I thought I ought just to warn people. I am sharing it, however, simply because I think we need to know just how horrendous this war we discuss really was.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I might add as well that the First World War, the worst ever fought by the British army, claimed the lives of millions, yet I had not paused and given thought to the number of poor men who were so horrifically mutilated that they dreaded returning to their loved ones. I think we all might pause now and consider them as fittingly as they deserve.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've seen that one before. The photograph of that little boy lying drowned in a waterlogged trench catches me every time - horrendous, but we've just got to know, there is no way around it - else how will we ever remember?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps if Joe Public saw the horrific injuries our men sustain/sustained, they might just complain about it to those who can change things. (But I doubt it).

Every serviceman knows/knew that maiming the enemy was much better than killing him.

My friend lost half of his face, another both legs. Let us hope that many people see the exhibition and that their reaction is the same as yours. I was lucky - at least all my various bits are still attached. I am just as ugly as when I joined many years ago (calls for violin :rolleyes: )

No such thing as a clean war despite what the tabloids say.

stevem

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The pictures show realistically what war can do, I wonder what happened to the men in the pictures, most probably years of pain, and psycho-social problems.The treatment of these men is an important part of our history. Our modern NHS and its treatments have developed through advances made in the treatment of war wounded, and whilst the textbooks tend to remember the names of the doctors, maybe we shall all remember the men who the doctors developed their practice on. Does the exhibition give a background about the men?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does the exhibition give a background about the men?

Here in the U.S. the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology has a collection of bones from casualties of our Civil War. In many cases the identities of the men they belonged to are known, as well as when and where the surgeries took place and the names of the surgeons who performed the amputations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That goes to show people care about identities, even after death, and that is what we must do. The British Army Museum website, as far as I can recall, does not give the names of three of the men, although presumably if they are advertising Henry Lumley as a case study, they must know something of his background.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Andy,

Many thanks, and a fantastically informative bibliography too. Somebody previously referred to the 'psycho-social problems' men such as Lumley must have faced after being mutilated in combat - well, in our tribute, we must not forget the efforts of men such as Gillies, who were probably among the first to take into consideration aesthetic factors when treating their patients. Of course, skin grafting was still primitive, but owing to it, even if they were never psychologically the same again, soldiers were at least able to feel some semblance of what life was like, after all they experienced, not something that can be easily ignored.

Katie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agreed Katie. An article which I have posted in the past may give food for thought here.

Published in I Was There 1938 -

The War's Bill to Humanity, by C.A.Lyon

Do you know that there are still nearly one million people suffering directly

ther dependents are still suffering through the loss of sons or relatives who were their

breadwinners, and have to be helped by the State.

Only detailed figures can give an idea of the suffering that the Great War is still causing today in this twentieth year of the peace.

Below are given estimated figures from the Ministry of Pensions.

They do not include the thousands of less seriously injured who conceal their wounds as best they can and make no claim.

As for the thousands of seriously injured, they are seldom seen on the streets.

There are 6,000 men with one or both legs amputated and 3000 with one or both arms amputated, a total of nearly 12,000 men who have lost limbs.

There are 90,000 men with impaired arms and legs not serious enough for, or curable by amputation.

There are 15,000 head injuries many of whom have to wear a metal plate to protect them.

11,000 are deaf, 7,000 suffer from hernia, 2,200 suffer from the effects of frost-bite.

32,009 suffer from wounds not officially classed. These are the wounded!

100,000 men are afflicted with diseases too numerous to mention.

41,000 suffer from chest complaints brought on by gassing.

30,000 suffer from heart disease brought on by strain or carrying heavy loads.

28,000 suffer rheumatism severe enough to convince the not-too-easily persuaded Ministry of Pensions doctors.

25,000 suffer nervous disorders (shell shock)

2,800 are epileptic and 3,200 are in asylums their minds broken.

A great army of doctors, nurses, masseurs, artificial limb makers, oculists and hospital staffs

still work to make life more tolerable for the worst war wounded.

There are 14,000 men with un-healed wounds who still have to have medical tratment.

One man celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the end of the war by having his hand amputated as the result of a wound which had given him pain all these years.

2,000 men are still in-patients in special war victims hospitals and 1,200 out-patients. doubtless there are more in General hospitals.

Each year thousands of pounds worth of apparatus and service are still needed.

Men come back to hospital year after year to have a little more cut off an amputated limb.

Each year 24,000 new surgical appliances, 4,000 new artificial arms and legs, 3,800 new artificial eyes,

25,000 bacteriological or pathological tests are still needed.

To pay pensions costs £40,000,000 per year or 110,000 per week. One shilling in every pound (1/20th) is

used to keep the war victims.

The eventual cost is estimated at £2,000,000,000. Now this £2bn - which no one grudges and most would like to

see increased - really represents payments to the war victims of wages for work which they or their dead breadwinners

would have done had they not been killed or incapacitated.

The £2bn ' wages 'will be paid but the work will never be done - and we are all poorer as a result.

(The article ends ) Yet men talk and dream and plan a still greater war. Truly there is no limit to human folly.

Aye

Malcolm

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Katie, you might find Project Facade of interest and also the compassionate work of Henry Tonks (I mean his pastels). You'll have to Google him. I'm not sure how true it is to say that the men returned to some semblance of normality; I suspect that gross facial disfigurement, requiring public warnings in some areas that the public might come into contact with such men, is almost intolerable and endured in privacy. Perhaps in the years immediately following the War, while it was fresh in public memory, there might have been more understanding than much, much later, when the war was in the past and the surviving men were old and still grossly disfigured. I find it impossible to see facial prostheses and not feel acutely distressed, particularly when I see them piled up and priced, lying on stalls in military fairs.

On a different note, I see that you are having difficulty not dwelling on the disturbing images you've seen. If you believe that there should be some sort of warning on the advert you mention, which has appeared very widely on many newspaper sites among others, then you could consider contacting the Advertising Standards Authority. They have an online facility as well as accepting paper complaints. You may find that others have voiced disquiet. Read the CAP (Code of Advertising Practice - on the site) first and try to relate anything you say to the principles of the Code.

Gwyn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sometimes it's better for a nation's security to not know the horrors of war.

At the start of World War II, the U.S. government rightly (in my opinion) censored images of dead American soldiers. All rational people agree that the war against the Japanese and the Nazis was justified, but if images of dead, mutilated, dismembered, and burned soldiers began flooding the newspapers and newsreels, there's no doubt that a substantial segment of the population would've demanded a negotiated settlement, on the grounds that the cost of fighting the war was too great.

Indeed, when the first images of dead American soldiers were published, there was just such an outcry.

If a government's policy is determined by the public's visceral reaction to horrible images, how will that country ever defend itself again?

War wounds--even the most disfiguring kind--should be seen as a badge of honor. Such wounds should represent the sacrifice and bravery of the warrior, not the horror he experienced. I saw a documentary about a U.S. Marine blown up in Iraq. He's just a kid, and now he's missing one leg and part of one arm, and his entire head is one mass of burn scars. He looks ghastly.

Yet he was invited to a marine graduation ceremony. The newly minted Devil Dogs wanted him there as a hero they could look up to. He didn't scare them, repulse them, or horrify them. After the ceremony, the class lined both sides of the path out to the parking lot, and they stood at attention, saluting him as he was wheeled back to his car by his mother.

Nobody there saw him as a victim. Nobody felt sorry for him. They were in awe of him, because of his strength and his sacrifice.

That's the attitude I try to cultivate when it comes to wounded warriors: admiration, not pity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That goes to show people care about identities, even after death, and that is what we must do.

I don't think it was a case of caring about people, it was good record-keeping at the time as well as the preservation of those records since that war. There's no moral lesson to be drawn from my anecdote.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some of you may have missed Blood & Bullets on the History Channel last Sunday It featured all about wounds and treatment through the ages. Andrew Robertshaw from the National Army Museum was the main Narrator. I expect it will be shown again soon. It showed three photos of soldiers with horrific Facial injuries before and after from WW1 similar to the ones in the link on the first post in this subject.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find it impossible to see facial prostheses and not feel acutely distressed, particularly when I see them piled up and priced, lying on stalls in military fairs

Gwyn

is there actually a market for such items??!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sometimes it's better for a nation's security to not know the horrors of war.

At the start of World War II, the U.S. government rightly (in my opinion) censored images of dead American soldiers. All rational people agree that the war against the Japanese and the Nazis was justified, but if images of dead, mutilated, dismembered, and burned soldiers began flooding the newspapers and newsreels, there's no doubt that a substantial segment of the population would've demanded a negotiated settlement, on the grounds that the cost of fighting the war was too great.

Indeed, when the first images of dead American soldiers were published, there was just such an outcry.

If a government's policy is determined by the public's visceral reaction to horrible images, how will that country ever defend itself again?

War wounds--even the most disfiguring kind--should be seen as a badge of honor. Such wounds should represent the sacrifice and bravery of the warrior, not the horror he experienced. I saw a documentary about a U.S. Marine blown up in Iraq. He's just a kid, and now he's missing one leg and part of one arm, and his entire head is one mass of burn scars. He looks ghastly.

Yet he was invited to a marine graduation ceremony. The newly minted Devil Dogs wanted him there as a hero they could look up to. He didn't scare them, repulse them, or horrify them. After the ceremony, the class lined both sides of the path out to the parking lot, and they stood at attention, saluting him as he was wheeled back to his car by his mother.

Nobody there saw him as a victim. Nobody felt sorry for him. They were in awe of him, because of his strength and his sacrifice.

That's the attitude I try to cultivate when it comes to wounded warriors: admiration, not pity.

Interesting you say this, because that's my attititude as well. I was at an all company retreat and one of the speakers was a 30ish, Afro-American LTC who lost both legs at the knee when his Hummer was hit by an IED. He nearly died due to his wounds and only survived because the grunts in his unit risked their lives to save him. He spoke on leadership (he was a former All-American football player at West Point as well) and received at least 3 standing ovations when he was done, due to general admiration and thanks for his service and sacrifice. He's the type of guy who will be a credit to any organization he works for, including the US Army.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wife`s uncle lost both legs in WW1 and I still can picture him coming down the stairs holding two banisters and even more impressive, going up! I was young and didn`t see him as representative of the thousands of maimed and ruined men. One result of that realization is a profound distaste for the higher ranks who accepted huge cash payments after a comfortable war.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The following are short notes I jotted some time ago from an article in the Dundee Advertiser for the 3rd of April 1916 titled Disfigured Soldiers, sub-titled Famous sculptor:

"Work at the 3rd London General Hospital, under Col Bruce Porter RAMC, along with Sgt F Derwent Wood ARA, is now recognised by the military authorities who desire that as many soldiers as possible may benefit. It is the kind of wound dreaded by most soldiers. There will come a time when the blue suit will be discarded and the soldier absorbed into civilian occupations where their disfigurement may place him at a disadvantage"

Tom

Link to comment
Share on other sites

is there actually a market for such items??!!!

Unfortunately, yes. I felt contaminated just to have seen them on sale.

Gwyn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would agree that it is hard to imagine who would want to buy or sell facial prosthetics, however they are themselves an important historical piece that illustrates a terrible period in human medical development in the same way as barbaric looking medical instruments from other historical period are also important. I think therefore there is a limited 'market' for them for purchase by medical museums and specialist medical collections.

Regards

Tim

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

I take some responsibility for placing uncomfortable images on the Net. Our lineone website has now moved to

www.gilliesarchives.org.uk

where you can find a comprehensive and up-to-date description of our collections. All the Tonks pastels, and some watercolours of our own collection, are visible. We would be in the market for facial prosthetics, as they were originally made both at the 3rd London General Hospital and at Sidcup - not that I have ever seen any for sale, but we are always anxious to enhance our collection with relevant material.

The National Army Museum exhibition, which I co-curated with Paddy Hartley of Project Facade and the Museum staff, has been successful. There is a warning at the beginning but we have been impressed that even relatively young children have not been fazed by it. My own belief is that we need to understand the reaility of war rather than live out a snaitised and fluffy version. It is therefore necessary not just to see the moving rows of tidy graves but also the reality of disfigurement of those left behind, not least in the latter case to marvel at the remarkable efforts of the surgeons and others who made people passable in appearance.

WW1 devotees will be interested to know that some of these thoughts will be aired in a BBC "Timewatch" documentary fronted by Michael Palin which will go out around Armistice Day 2008.

Andrew Bamji

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My own belief is that we need to understand the reality of war rather than live out a sanitised and fluffy version.

Serious question: Why?

Everyone knows that war is horrible. Most of the world's press has no qualms whatsoever about publishing the most horrendous images imaginable. When I lived in Japan, there were films such as The Great hunt 1984, the cinematic trailers of which showed newsreel footage from the Iran-Iraq War that contained images of Iranians killing an Iraqi soldier in a manner I won't even describe. This footage was shown as entertainment.

For a hundred years the world has been awash in images that depict the reality of war, yet wars are still fought. Today, there are Web sites that specialize in ghastly, unimaginably graphic photos of war dead and wounded. In some cultures DVDs of horrible atrocities are becoming more popular by the day. They're used to encourage people to go to war, not end war.

As I said, this is a serious question. I've always wanted to ask--respectfully, and with a genuine desire to learn: Do you honestly think that showing the "reality of war" will prevent wars? Do you really think that people somehow think wars are great until they see death and disfigurement, and then they're shocked into opposing war?

During and after World War I there were postcards, pamphlets, and books published showing not only the hideous deaths and disfigurements suffered by soldiers but also the atrocities committed against civilians. Yet a little over twenty years later, the world fought an even more destructive war than the War to End All Wars.

I think people already know how horrible war is, and showing them awful images isn't going to have any effect at all. It certainly hasn't worked in the past century.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with you entirely. The Great War left our country awash with disabled servicmen. Blind, limbless, terribly disfigured and mentally shattered. The same was true for all the combatant countries. This did not stop them fighting the same war again. Some men fought in both wars. The suffering caused by the Great War was used to bolster a call for revenge and an excuse to fight another war. In the same way, the humiliation of the war of 1870 was used as a reason to call for La Revanche and helped the French into the Great War.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello everyone. I also "stumbled" across the NAM exhibition web space a few months back (2007). It is an impressive web presence for a museum that somewhat ironically we tend to think of as focussing on pre-1914 and hence the "romanticized" views of war.

Questions:

1) Does anyone have specific information (sources) on the mental health of these seriously facially wounded during the war?

2) Does anyone have specific information (sources) on the mental health of these seriously facially wounded AFTER the war?

3) What relationships existed either during or after the war for facially wounded casualties who were ALSO concurrently diagnosed as "shell shocked", N.Y.D.N., etc....?

Thanks,

John

Toronto

Dr. Bamjii keep up the great work. By the way the Univesity of Toronto Archives does have some bits and pieces of the failed military medical museum of specimens that were shipped back to Canada (Montreal) during 1918 - 1919. If I remember right artifical eye socket and nose.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...