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

Making Do and Mending Bodies

Wounded soldiers convalescing at Preston Hall, Aylesford, Kent, c1941

Wounded soldiers convalescing at Preston Hall, Aylesford, Kent, c1941

Join Professor Julie Anderson as she examines the rehabilitation of injured and disabled soldiers during and after the Second World War.

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During the Second World War, the government urged the British public to ‘Make Do and Mend’ as part of a campaign encouraging them to repair and re-fashion old and worn-out clothes. The idea was for people to make the most of what they had and ensure precious resources were used efficiently.

Bodies were an even more precious resource, and efficiency was at the centre of the rehabilitation of injured service personnel. Highly trained soldiers, technicians and specialists were too valuable to be cast aside. Individuals were only discharged after their rehabilitation was complete and as much bodily function as possible had been restored.

Many of them were encouraged to stay in the armed forces, including double leg amputees and blinded men. Others re-joined the war effort as civilians, working in factories and offices around the country. 

The making and mending of bodies through rehabilitation meant Britain was able to maintain sufficient numbers in its wartime workforce - both military and civilian - as injured men and women were repaired and military service and national duty were re-fashioned.

In this insightful talk, Professor Julie Anderson will discuss the role of rehabilitation in the treatment of those seriously injured and disabled in war and reflect on its evolution in post-war Britain.

About Julie Anderson

Professor Julie Anderson is a medical historian who focuses on medicine, disability and war. She is a Professor of Modern History at the University of Kent, and has given papers nationally and internationally on war and modern medicine. 

Professor Anderson has published a number of articles and books on this topic, including ‘War, Disability and Rehabilitation in Britain: “Soul of a Nation”’ with Manchester University Press.

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