Walter Yeo was the first modern plastic surgery patient

On 31 May 1916, Walter Yeo was manning the guns of HMS Warspite during the battle of Jutland when the ship came under fire


Yeo sustained terrible facial injuries, losing both his upper and lower eyelids.


In a war in which thousands of men were grievously injured, there’s nothing particularly unusual in this. But what happened next makes Yeo one of the most important patients in the history of 20th-century medicine. Why? Well soon after, Yeo was having his face rebuilt by Dr Harold Gillies in the world’s first example of modern plastic surgery.


Dr Gillies carried out his surgery on some 5,000 injured men from June 1917. Thanks to his pioneering work, thousands of people have benefited from plastic surgery in the years since the war. As for Yeo, he lived until he was 70.