Big Bertha

Big Bertha
Circa 1940, on the streets of Rochester New York, Bertha does her work.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Armistice Day! Totally Tubular Edition

Sorry vets, me included, this day's taken. It commemorates the end of hostilities in the most costly war up to that time.
It was essentially "WW2's first installment" war, the influence of which is still being felt. The mess in the Balkans and the Middle East, caused by: The Collapse of the Ottoman Empire - a direct result.
It wasn't just the Ottomans. The Austro-Hungarian Empire also went tits-up and Great Britain's imperial presence was dealt a death blow as well.
We Yanks don't think much on the Great War 'cause... we were only there a while. Hell, our first independent action was six months before the Armistice.
Before that... holes were dug... millions were slaughtered... mistakes were made.
America's contribution was important but it was also the causative factor in some other unpleasant bits. Actually, just the rumor of Americans was sufficient to goad General Sir Douglas Haig into test driving his oft-discredited tactic of massed infantry against hardened machine guns. Siegfried Sassoon said it best:

"I died in hell -
(They called it Passchendaele)"


This absurd offensive was pushed through against the advice of the less stupid because Haig was afraid the Yanks would get there and rob him of a breakthrough.
The 1918, German, all-out, spring offensive was based solely on a desire to capture a seaport before there would be added a new, fresher combatant.
But really, that war has given us so much. The French "souvenir" replaced the British "keepsake".
"Entrenched", "over the top", "breakthrough" and others. Where would we be without those expressions?
Ah, and the trenches, the war's enduring image. It wasn't the first time they'd been used. Trenches had been used in our own mid-19th century unpleasantness as well as the Russo-Japanese War.
But those were baby trenches.
These stretched from the North Sea to the Swiss border, roughly 450 miles. It was said that one could walk the entire distance without ever showing one's head on the surface.
Interesting factoid: Between 1914 and 1918, the largest city on earth in terms of both population and area was the Western Front.
But I digress. There was one, unquestionable benefit of the Great War.
I touched on this briefly four Armistice Days back, that is: "gueules cassées"; "The men with broken faces".
Harold Gilles, an ear-nose-and-throat man from Dunedin in New Zealand tacked this head on.
To the left, Henry Ralph Lumley.
Henry had essentially lost his face due to burns so Gilles attempted to graft a full-size piece of skin from the chest onto the face.
It didn't work. Henry died from infection.
Gilles came to a couple of conclusions after this failure as well as others: One, grafts were to be made in stages, not 'all-of-a-piece'.
And the grafted tissue needed to maintain it's own blood supply.
Meet Willie Vicarage, Able Seaman on HMS Malaya, an Elizibeth class, British battleship.
Willie's problem is obvious. During the Battle of Jutland a shell fragment took off most of his jaw.
But as you see, there's more to the picture. What Gilles came up with was the "tubed pedicle" wherein, a flap of tissue, which could be just the skin or underlying tissue as well, is cut from the head, back or shoulder.
The flap is left anchored at the end, then stitched into a tube. This seriously reduces the chance of infection and the new tissue is never without a blood supply.
It worked - well. It worked for Willie as well as many others.
Major success: William Spreckley whose nose was shot off in the Ypres Salient.
What Gilles did was to attach a chunk of cartilidge from Williams rib-cage and attach it to his forehead. He then brought a flap from the forehead and stuck both it and the cartilidge into the nasal cavity. There was, I'm certain, more to the process than that.
Things took some time after that but - Hey Presto! A new nose.
Here's the new nose, and it's proud owner, as an older man.
Harold, ya' done good.
If you checked the link to the Wiki entry for this technique, then you know it is also known as "the walking-stalk skin flap" or the "waltzing tube pedicle" due to the fact that a graft could be made from one place, then detached at its point of origin and stitched on elsewhere (Good names for your goth/punk band as well).
This next, Jack Toper from WW2 is a good illustration. I can't find the pictures again but that elephant's trunk he's got originated on his calf.
I'm guessing that they didn't want the "donor scar" to be anywhere that would be generally visible.
So Jack had a strip of skin from his calf sewn to his wrist which could, when things had healed sufficiently, transport this new nose material up where it was needed.
I daresay he's in better humor about the entire thing than I would be.
In conclusion, one site says this is Willie Vicarage, the first recipient.
Finally, and I mean it this time, a wax model for any who may have been slow on the uptake.
Harold Gilles was knighted for his accomplishment as well he should have been, but it wouldn't have moved so smoothly forward without his having a nearly unlimited supply of chopped-up kids to practice on.
Thanks, Warmongers.

4 comments:

Andy said...

Ugh Dan, you know how to hit the depression buttons!
And here I thought you were going to go off on the guy in the comments at the Boomstick site that says we actually won Viet Nam militarily, but the left did something or other. AND he knows two (Count 'em TWO!)guys who've been to Afghanistan and in their learned opinions, the Afghanis need some good old Christian genocide.
But anyway, back to your post, don't know if I ever mentioned it, but the Army surgeons who docked my leg attempted a Van Ness rotationplasty before they took the whole thing. Not as grisly as the facial stuff in your post, but it definitely had my attention before it went South...

Dan brock said...

I was all the fault of Walter Conkrite. He ignored the obvious military victory in our handling of the Tet offensive and instead said it illustrated that the war as far wider than we'd thought and due to be long and stupid.
See how wrong he was.

Andy said...

Ohhh...it was Cronkite. It's all getting clearer now. Hope Jon Stewart's taking note, we wouldn't want him to lose Afghanistan for us.

I might have to drop a comment at your Mormon buddy's site. He dropped the term "rapey" on the OWS thing. Doubt he'd be so glib turning a four letter verb into an adjective if he'd ever served in Kosovo or West Africa, even Pelican Bay. Or if he'd ever served anywhere...

Dan brock said...

Yeah, Larry's a twat. No doubt about it. I have him diagnosed though:
"Malignant Narcissism"; book to read:
"The People of the Lie".
Fat George kicked me out of the club...again - but I can still go there. Blocking IP addresses isn't maybe permanent.
Oh, and over at dumbass Larry's site, click on the link to "American Warmonger".
I told the idiot that that blog was closed but...
Anyway, it's mine now. 250+ hits - from Larry's place.

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