History KS4 / GCSE: How did facial reconstructive surgery develop in World War One?

Dan Snow looks at the how facial reconstruction surgery developed in World War One.

New weapons in World War One such as machine guns and artillery fire not only led to the deaths of nearly 1 million men from the British army, but also horrific facial wounds caused by shrapnel.

Harold Gillies developed the tube pedicle to help make skin grafts more successful.

This helped improve blood supply to the new skin and led to dramatic improvements in the facial appearance of injured soldiers.

Francis Derwent Wood helped develop life like masks called portrait masks to help soldiers deal with the mental trauma of their facial injuries.

These prosthetic masks helped give wounded soldiers a chance to return to normality.

This clip contains disturbing scenes. Teacher review is recommended prior to use in class.

Teacher Notes

Key Stage 4/GCSE

Students could be asked to list all of the developments in surgery that had happened prior to World War One and examples they can think of war improving surgery.

Then they could watch the clip and explain how the events of World War One allowed surgery to improve and helped Gilies and Derwent Wood to make their discoveries.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching History at KS4/GCSE in England Wales and Northern Ireland.

Also at National 4/National 5 and Higher in Scotland.