ReAgent was back in London this week attending the launch of The Science Museum’s latest exhibition entitled ‘Wounded: Conflict, Casualties and Care’. The new exhibition is timed to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, and in particular the Battle of The Somme which started on 1 July 1916.
On the first day alone of this momentous battle, British forces sustained 57,000 casualties which created a medical emergency of unprecedented scale. The exhibition sets out to address such questions as what happened to the wounded? How and where did they receive care? How were they transported to safety? What treatments were available?
The most immediate priorities for medical personnel near the front line was to stem the loss of blood and to help prevent infection, not easy in the muddy and dirty environment of the trenches. Many historic items are on display from the Science Museum’s First World War medical collection including specially adapted stretchers for use in narrow trenches, early blood transfusion equipment and artificial limbs for those receiving treatment back home. There is also a significant collection of lucky charms which were frequently carried by soldiers on the front line.
By the end of the First World War over 30,000 War Pensions had been awarded for personnel suffering from shell shock although this figure would rise dramatically in the years to follow as the psychological cost of war was recognised by military and civilian authorities. New welfare institutions and rehabilitation organisations were created following the First World War although many of those wounded were reluctant to seek help, particularly for mental suffering.
The exhibition provides a moving insight into the sacrifices made by those who were injured in combat in the First World War and beyond and their life changing mental and physical wounds. The exhibition finishes with moving testimonies from six courageous veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following service in Afghanistan and Iraq. They openly share their experiences with the Museum and create a personal display that represents their trauma.
The free exhibition is open until 15 January 2018 and is deemed suitable for adults and children between the ages of 12 to 16 years due to the subject matter. You can find out more information by visiting the Science Museum website: