The terrible global human cost of the First World War was an estimated 9.5 million dead and 20 million injured.
In Britain alone, almost one million soldiers, sailors and airmen had been killed. Around two million came home with some level of disability: over 40,000 were amputees; some had facial disfigurement or had been blinded. Others suffered from deafness, tuberculosis or lung damage caused by poison gas. There were thousands of cases of shell shock from the horrors of warfare, diagnosed today as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Header image: A group of recovering disabled servicemen. © C.E. Morton
Amputee with his prosthetic leg, Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton, London. © Historic England Bedford Lemere Archive BL24278.
There was a national debate about how best to care for disabled veterans. The majority were young men who had their whole lives before them. To avoid a future of misery and hopelessness, and an enormous…