Artificial leg made by British prisoner-of-war, Germany, 1940

1940 in Germany

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Artificial leg - from POW camp. Graduated green background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Musuem

Artificial leg, wood, leather and steel, reputedly made by a British prisoner-of-war in 1940

This artificial leg was reputedly made by a British prisoner of war (POW) in 1940, during the Second World War – he had been injured during the early months of the conflict. The main part of the leg is made from wood, which must have been scavenged from around the POW camp. It is a straight piece of wood without a knee joint so crutches may have been used as well. However, it would have greatly improved his mobility. Unlike artificial arms, which are barely equipped to recreate a fraction of the movements of a live arm, many of the basic functions of a leg – such as standing and walking – can be achieved with even the crudest of constructions.

The cradle at the top of the leg is made from a military ‘jack boot’, which reaches above the knee. The maker or owner carved his initials, “A.B”, into the leg near the rubber tip at the bottom.


Object Number:
cradle, steel, cup, leather, shaft, wood and tip, rubber
artificial leg
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • prosthesis
  • artificial limb
D.H.S.S. (Russell Sq.)

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