First World War display a hit at Queen Mary’s

27 August 2014
To commemorate the centenary of the First World War and the important part that the former Queen's Hospital, Sidcup, played in helping casualties, we held a display of photographs and text earlier this month.

At the conclusion of the First World War and in the years that followed, Queen's Hospital (which was to become Queen Mary's) was the world leader in terms of plastic surgery. Between 1917 and 1925 staff at the hospital treated over 5,000 soldiers injured in the war. They were led by Harold Gillies, a New Zealander who found his calling while working with injured soldiers in France during the war.

Many visitors stopped to look at the display in B Block reception at Queen Mary's. Organiser, Site Services Facilitator, Denise Webb, said: “I was surprised and I must admit very happy at the amount of people that did take the time to look and read about Queen's Hospital.”

Earlier this year Dr Andrew Bamji, a former Consultant Rheumatologist and Director of Medical Education at Queen Mary's discovered a huge archive of fascinating case notes from Gillies' work. Andrew became the hospital's archivist. He was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman for the BBC series Britain’s Great War. He showed Paxman some horrific images of facial injuries before and after surgery and told him how Gillies and his team treated them in Sidcup.

You can find out more about the fascinating plastic surgery work carried out at Queen Mary's at Andrew's Gillies archives website. The excellent work that Sir Harold Gillies and his staff accomplished helped change so many people’s lives.