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December 2014

World War One: The Department of Masks for Facial Disfigurements

Author Affiliations
  • 1Dermatology Centre, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, University of Manchester, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester, England
  • 2Department of Primary Care, University of Oxford, Oxford, England
  • 3Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England

Copyright 2014 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(12):1330. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.817

The First World War devastated the political, economic, and social landscape of the early 20th century. Equally pervasive, ruinous consequences were evidenced by the many thousands of soldiers who sustained disfiguring facial injuries during battle. Born in Keswick, Francis Derwent Wood (1871-1926) crafted a career as a sculptor, first as a pupil at the National Art Training School and later during a series of apprenticeships with the great artists of the time.1 In 1914, Wood joined the Royal Army Military Corps initially as an orderly, but he soon took charge of the splint unit in the Third London General Hospital, Wandsworth. Wood resolved to exercise his prowess as a sculptor to reconstruct faces for men and women who had suffered devastating facial injuries, superseding the contemporary practice of crudely attaching gelatin and rubber parts.