• 10.00am - 5.30pm
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London
National Army Museum
  • 10.00am - 5.30pm
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London

Limbless Veterans of the First World War

Amputees playing bowls during convalescence, 1918

Join Louise Bell as she discusses the use of prosthetics for service personnel who lost limbs in the First World War.

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The First World War saw the introduction of devastating weaponry on an unprecedented scale. The widespread use of mortars, artillery, machine guns and other brutal weapons resulted in far greater numbers of service personnel being physically changed by their wartime experience.

Around 41,000 British men returned home from the First World War missing at least one arm or leg. Hospitals were opened solely with the task of helping them, and workshops were increasingly set up for the production of artificial limbs.

In this insightful talk, Louise Bell will examine the work undertaken at hospitals such as those at Erskine and Roehampton. She will explore both the prosthetics and rehabilitation provided to these seriously wounded men.

About Louise Bell

Louise Bell is currently a second-year AHRC-funded PhD student at the University of Leeds, undertaking a Collaborative Doctoral Partnership with The National Archives. Her research explores British state provision of prosthetic limbs in the two world wars. 

She previously worked at The National Archives as First World War Diverse Histories Researcher during the centenary period, publishing her first book, ‘Images of The National Archives: Armistice’ (2018), as a result.

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"First time @NAM_London today. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Thought the presentation & interpretation made the subject accessible..."