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I have been a civilian trauma nurse for 30 years. I was watching a documentary on WWI. The camera panned around 30 + soldiers laying on cots. All of them had the same facial injuries & mostly on the same side of their faces. 

It looked like an axe had caused a deep gash in their mouth. Are these injuries b/c of exploding ordinances? Or a mis-fire from their guns? I have seen many battle injuries from other wars, but none like these. Can you answer This? Thanks so much. Looking forward to hearing from you. 

Lisa Paddock




Dear Ms Paddock,

I’m afraid I cannot begin to answer your question without seeing the photograph or sequence. I deduce, however, that this was a selection of wounded soldiers who had suffered similar injuries and had been triaged for attention by the same medical specialists, possibly for reconstructive surgery. Other soldiers bearing common wounds on a different part of their faces or bodies were probably gathered in another section of the medical facility. If all this seems disturbingly wholesale, it should give you an inkling of the industrial scale of the carnage occurring in any given combat during World War I.



Jon Guttman

Research Director

World History

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