A 19-year-old soldier, who was not expected to survive after his face was blown off during the Battle of Passchendaele, went on to live another 60 years thanks to the life-saving work of a pioneering plastic surgeon.

Sidney Beldam was just one among hundreds of thousands of casualties who fell during the bloody battle, which began 100 years ago this week.

The young soldier, who was serving with the 9th Scottish Division, fell in and out of consciousness after the front of his face was ripped off.

But he went on to survive his injuries, largely due to the innovative work of Harold Gillies, a New Zealand-born surgeon credited with helping thousands of young men left disfigured during the First World War.

Dr Gillies and his team, based at Queen’s Hospital in Sidcup, carried out 46 operations, including reconstruction and skin grafts, on Beldam’s face.

The brave soldier’s grand-daughter, Marilyn McInnes said he likely survived initially because he fell forward, meaning he did not suffocate on his own blood.

She told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘He was left for dead, face down in the mud…when they were clearing the bodies, one of them kicked his body to roll it over and said ‘My God, this one’s still alive’.

‘With that, my grandfather’s war was over.’