Chest pencil | Wellcome Images

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This invention was made for a man who had lost both arms at the shoulders, an extremely rare injury even among the 41,000 British servicemen who lost one or more limbs during the First World War. For these men, their injuries were so severe that no limb stump remained to which an artificial limb could be attached.

In this crude device, a canvas strip which has a pencil attached to a wooden disc at the front was strapped around the chest. Once the pencil was on a sheet of paper, the amputee would write via movements of his torso. This would have been extremely difficult. It was invented by a Major Maclure, an officer in the British Army.

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About Fionnuala Barrett

I am a master's student of nineteenth-century English literature at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. For the WW1C project I have been overseeing the @Arras95 live-tweeting project, as well as researching resources to add to the project library.
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