We should remember all of them

In Eileen's story, she describes how her father, Michael Kehily, returned from the Third Battle of Ypres with physical wounds and damaged hearing.

Michael, a Gunner with the Royal Field Artillery, sustained a gun shot wound (right shoulder) and, according to his pension records, at the age of 19 he was 80% deaf.

Michael lived with immobility to his right arm for the rest of his life and died aged 45, when Eileen was 1. 

In Eileen's story, she relays her mother's account of how right-handed Michael taught himself to write shorthand - with his left hand.  Eileen also describes her father benefitting from pioneering surgery to save his right arm and that he toured the UK with the surgeon to demonstrate new surgical techniques, preventing amputation. 

We do not presently know the identity of that surgeon, but this gives us an opportunity to remember those who returned home and the work of those visionaries who found new techniques to help the injured. 

The work of New Zealander, Harold Gillies, has been archived by Dr Andrew Bamji and is available at the Royal College of Surgeons. In 2019, Dr Bamji delivered this excellent lecture to the Royal Society about the development of plastic surgery. As you will hear from Dr Bamji in this video, the archive names Harold Gillies' patients and describes the treatment given. 

If you believe that your relative was treated by or involved with Harold Gillies, then contact Royal College of Surgeons.

Video attributes | You Tube, Royal Society and Dr A Bamji

Stoicism and courage | The Cicerone's view

'I wandered into watching daytime television - never again!'

The only episode of the BBC hospital drama 'Holby City' that I have seen contained an unnecessary amount of blood and gore. I admit that I watched most of the scenes from behind the sofa. 

Me, squeamish?

However, before writing this article, I managed to make my way through most of Dr Bamji's lecture without reaching for a cushion behind which I could hide and, afterwards, I had a different perspective on the story of those who returned from service with injuries. 

While a battlefield tour is bound to include a visit to the cemeteries commemorating those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their King, cause or country, forgetting those who returned home with physical injuries is to forget the price so many continued to pay after that date in November 1918.

Soon after surgery in 2010, I was housebound, feeling rather sorry for myself and nursing a broken tibia/tibial plateau after my motorcycle decided to turn left, as I turned right. The newly acquired metalwork holding my knee together reminded me of its presence each time I moved or even coughed. 

With very little else to do, I wandered into watching daytime television (never again!....except...) and watched a documentary in stunned silence about 22 year-old Dave Watson, 1st Battalion Scots Guards, who stepped on an IED, losing both legs and an arm.

Humbled and ashamed of my self pity for my minor injury, in that moment Dave's example taught me a life-lesson. I am in his debt.

Projecting Dave's stoicism and courage onto the images of those who returned from the Great War, I find that clarity is given to the reason why remembrance of the generation who lived through the Great War remains important. 

I take this opportunity to include a video from the Veterans' Foundation featuring Dave Watson and encourage you to visit this charity's website, giving both Dave and the charity the credit they deserve. 

Video attributes | You Tube. Veteran's Foundation. Dave Watson

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