On 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, British forces sustained 57,000 casualties, creating a medical emergency of unprecedented scale and severity.
On 29 June 2016 a new exhibition will open at the Science Museum, commemorating the centenary of this momentous battle and the huge medical and human impact of wounding during and beyond the First World War.
At the centre of the exhibition will be a remarkable collection of historic objects from the Science Museum’s First World War medical collections, illustrating the stories of the wounded and those who cared for them.
From stretchers adapted for use in narrow trenches to made-to- measure artificial arms fitted back in British hospitals, medical technologies, techniques and strategies were pioneered or adapted throughout the war to help the wounded along each stage of rescue and treatment.
Visitors will also see unique lucky charms and improvised personal protective items carried by soldiers on the frontline alongside examples of official frontline medical equipment.
Beyond the battlefields, the exhibition will also focus on the longer-term impact of the war on the soldiers who were left physically and mentally affected, and show how the medical lessons learnt still carry relevance today.