This memorial is dedicated to the community, recognised in history as the men with ‘broken’ faces: to the patients themselves, and the their surgeons, doctors, nurses and orderlies who devoted their time and skill to their care.
The life-size bronze bust shows a soldier wearing an original World War One helmet, donated by the Somme Musuem, with one hand raised to his face. When mounted on its inscribed marble plinth, alongside a pair of bronze soldiers’ boots, the memorial weighed-in at over 1.5 tonnes and stands over 6ft tall. It was unveiled at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup on 24 November 2019.
This location was chosen because this hospital, founded in 1917, formerly known as The Queen’s Hospital, was where pioneering work in reconstruction and plastic surgery was performed on British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealander casualties from The First World War whose faces had been taken from them by horrific wounds. At least 11,000 operations attempting to give wounded men their faces back were carried out. The work that took place in this hospital formed the foundations of reconstruction and plastic surgery that has offered the prospect of change to many across the country.
While many veterans were treated successfully, thanks to techniques pioneered at The Queen's Hospital, thousands more couldn't be 'fixed’. There is a haunting absence of the stories of these men with ‘broken faces’ from the official accounts almost as if they were airbrushed out of history.
There are stories of mirrors being banned from hospital wards, children cowering from their fathers who came home from the front with a new face, and sweethearts who couldn’t bear to look at their lovers. Instead of a hero’s welcome, these men came back to pitying looks, glares, and people on the street peering into buggies to see if their ‘broken faces’ had been passed on to their babies.
These men felt such overwhelming social pressure to hide their disfigurement behind facial prosthetics and tin masks that some were even buried still wearing them: they lost not just their faces but their identities. Despite all the books and exhibitions about World War One their suffering has been largely forgotten, so this memorial has been placed here to ensure they would be remembered.
The co-ords are for the memorial in the hospital. You can see it if you go through the main doors and then turn left after the cafe entrance and go down the corridor. The memorial is in the quadrangle on the right. You can either find the answers there (although you might need good eye sight as I couldn't find a way into the quadrangle) or online.
Underneath the statue there are two 7 letter french words. If 11=19 then solve the below to find the double potted cache:
N51 25. 12-8 2-7-9 1-9
E0 6. 4-14 1-8 10-5
***** PLEASE NOTE IMPORTANT *****
CACHES ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE PLACED ON ACTUAL MEMORIALS OR WITHIN THE BOUNDARY OF SUCH
AT ALL TIMES PLEASE TREAT LOCATIONS OF MEMORIALS WITH RESPECT