The face of battle

Seven soldiers recovering in a military hospital. Most of them will probably return to service in their original units, unlike their US Army counterparts, where soldiers fit for service again could end up in a different unit. It wasn’t unknown for US soldiers to escape from the hospital so they could get back to their unit, instead of being reassigned to some random unit where they would be newcomers and therefore less likely to survive. Anyway, unless disabled and released from military service, or assigned to some rear-area unit or as instructors in the regiment’s training battalion, the men would be back at the front sooner or later.

The man seated to the left has an open wound in his jaw from a bullet or a piece of shrapnel. Restorative surgery had become a specialty after World War 1, where the amount of head wounds had increased due to the heavy use of artillery as well as the nature of battlefield (fighting in trenches exposed the head more than the rest of the body). Still, even the most skilled surgeons at that time wouldn’t be able to restore his face to its original look. It could be worse, though… Loss of limb(s) or severe burns were more feared. The number of wounded soldiers were in the millions, and 1.5 million had a disability of 25 % or more. After the war, there were programs to ensure that disabled veterans got jobs. With so many dead in the war, everyone was needed in the rebuild of the two Germanies.

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