Wonderful Work Being Done to Hide Hideous and Shattered Features the Surgeons Cannot Help
“Camouflage of Mercy” is the term by which many describe the work being carried on by Anna C. Ladd, the sculptor, under the auspices of the American Red Cross. It is a wonderful work for soldiers whose faces have been hideously mutilated by German shells. Mrs. Ladd is the wife of Dr. Maynard Ladd, medical adviser of the American Red Cross, but her work has nothing to do with medicine.
In many hospitals, of course, plastic surgery is doing much to build up shattered faces. Mrs. Ladd, however, finds her subjects among those whom the surgeons cannot help. They are soldiers whose faces have been so shot to pieces that they present a hideous spectacle, one which their friends and relatives prepare to shun. The sufferers realize this and become very unhappy and sensitive and are inclined to hide themselves away from their fellow-beings. Mrs. Ladd has become greatly interested in the work of Captain Dervent, who improved on the gelatine and rubber formerly used and made metal masks. To make these masks, Mrs. Ladd takes a plaster cast of the mutile’s face, and then from pre-war photographs or descriptions furnished by friends, builds up in clay or plaster the missing parts until the cast is a good likeness of the man as he was.
From this cast, a thin copper mask is made and then plated with silver. This is fitted perfectly and the camouflage is held in place by a pair of spectacles. The final stage is to paint the mask so that it is practically indistinguishable.
In the accompanying illustration, it will be noted that the mutilation has not been so general and the pair of spectacle with eyes painted in disks behind the glasses serve to change this man from a fearsome evidence of war into a pleasant-looking Poilu whose friends easily recognize him. Of course, when painting the eyes on the disks great care was used to get the exact color and to get a natural appearance.
The masks, of course, do not restore the functions, they only camouflage these poor faces so that their owners will not hesitate to go about among their friends.
Source: The Monroe Journal (Claiborne, Alabama) – Thursday, November 21, 1918