The blue benches outside London’s Queen’s Hospital were reserved for men with shattered faces and smashed dreams. The colorful paint job warned the locals that they might want to avert their eyes, shielding them from coming face-to-face with the awful reality of the war and saving the terribly disfigured young men from another look of horror, another uncomfortable stare.

The soldiers who sat on those benches in the years during and after World War I had suffered facial wounds on the Western Front that had never been seen before in warfare. Hailstorms of bullets, exploding metal shells and shrapnel tore off the flesh and ripped off the faces of men who dared to peek out of their trenches or attempt to dodge machine gun fire.