7 November 2009

The forgotten faces of The Great War.

This time of the year stirs feelings from within, it always does, practically everyone from my generation has a Grandad, Great Grandad Uncle or relative who was involved in the two major wars of the last century. But rather than just stick up a googled photo of The Western Front and put a copied and pasted poem up, I thought I'd mention something slightly different.
The Great War was a horrendous, futile conflict, as was the Second and the current wars out in the desert, all wars are horrible, I don't agree with them. But the Great War - so called 'war to end all wars' shaped this country and future generations, and it is important to remember that.
Whilst we remember all the many thousands who perished in terrible conditions at The Somme, Ypres, and Flanders and those fortunate enough to come home in one piece, we may forget those left with the physical and mental torment, the shellshock and those who came back with horrific facial injuries - injuries so severe the men were commonly unrecognisable to loved ones and friends. Often unable to see, hear, speak eat or drink, they struggled to re-assimilate back into civilian life. So step forward Surgeon Sir Harold Gillies, the pioneer of plastic surgery as we know it today. One can only imagine how limited surgery was back in 1917 compared to the modern day, so it's truly remarkable to think what Gillies accomplished, he literally rebuilt the broken faces of these young men using methods which pushed the parameters of the profession beyond all known techniques. Using skin grafts - pedicle tubing, lifting of a long, large flap of skin from other areas of the body, placed to the affected areas and gradually modelled to the face for reconstruction of the shattered facial features. Astonishing to think this was being put into practice all those years ago.

Project Facade gives a full in depth account and is well worth a look.

No comments:

Post a Comment