Queen Victoria Hospital Archive Project: psychological rehabilitation

McIndoe and his team at QVH unquestionably accomplished great things in the treatment of severe burns, and in the subsequent surgical reconstruction of disfigured faces, hands and other parts of the body. Yet the achievements of McIndoe’s regime at the hospital extended far beyond physical repair. Many previous posts in this series, including the recent guest piece by consultant plastic surgeon Tom Cochrane, have alluded to the fact that a vital part of the Guinea Pigs’ recovery was determined by the much wider-ranging systems of support which came into play during – and beyond their time at East Grinstead.  Of these, the Guinea Pig Club was of course hugely significant, as, too, was the role played by the townspeople of East Grinstead – a topic which will be the subject of a forthcoming post.  Underpinning all of this was McIndoe’s belief in the importance of psychological – as much as physical – rehabilitation.

Memorandum relating to the importance of rehabilitation, 1949

 

Of course these two aspects of recovery were in many ways inextricably linked. In part, McIndoe’s concern with the mental well-being of his patients was very much connected with the effect that this had on the success of surgical repair. This was emphasised in his 1958 lecture, ‘Total Reconstruction of the Burned Face’ in which McIndoe pointed to the importance of ensuring the patient’s morale was ‘of the highest order’[1] when embarking on the long and exacting series of operations necessary for facial reconstruction.  At the same time, McIndoe was not simply being pragmatic; accounts make it clear that he had a very genuine and personal empathy for his Guinea Pigs, these young energetic men who had suffered such traumatic and life-altering injuries. He had a strong awareness of just how devastating must be the psychological impact of their sudden transformation into a ‘burned cinder’,[2] and saw that this had to be addressed in and of itself in order to facilitate the patient’s return to a ‘normal’ and productive life.

The piano was one of the diversions provided for patients in Ward III

McIndoe’s morale-boosting efforts on behalf of the patients took various forms. As Emily Mayhew has discussed, much focus lay in creating the right kind of ‘therapeutic environment’.[3] This began with the hospital surroundings in which the patients were to spend so much of their time. McIndoe arranged for Ward III, (whose original décor was described as resembling that of ‘a dimly lit Victorian public lavatory’[4]) to be repainted in soothing pastel shades, with new curtains and bedspreads, and filled with fresh flowers. Diversions for the patients included a piano and famously a barrel of beer on tap – although it should be added that this was well watered down and served the important medical purpose of encouraging the patients to stay hydrated.  Another significant area was the appointment of the right staff. It is widely recorded that McIndoe favoured employing nurses who were physically attractive, but even more important was that they were temperamentally suited to the uniquely demanding workload of Ward III and that they were well-prepared to interact with the Guinea Pigs without displaying any negative reaction to their disfigured appearance. Here, much of McIndoe’s influence lay in managing other people’s reactions to his patients and overcoming the natural instinct ‘…to be repelled, to turn away, to ignore.’[5] This was also famously exemplified in his success in prevailing on the East Grinstead community to accept and welcome the Guinea Pigs.

McIndoe recognised the importance of entertainment and a home-like atmosphere for his patients

Providing entertainment, lifting spirits and staving off boredom were all desirable outcomes, but there was also a longer-term goal. What was recognised in all of these initiatives was the importance of bringing the burn patients back to a place (in the emotional sense) where they could feel hopeful and optimistic about the future, and conceive of a life ahead of them which was worth living. Positive human interaction and social acceptance – amongst fellow patients, staff, and in the wider community was vital in helping the men to come to terms with their changed appearance and rebuild their image of themselves.

McIndoe was also mindful of the practical issues which arose for the Guinea Pigs in returning to everyday life. Being well aware of the wretched circumstances in which many of the First World War veterans had found themselves, McIndoe was determined that his patients must be well-looked after. Perhaps some of the most interesting records in the QVH archive are McIndoe’s files relating to the Welfare Committee, formed in October 1941. Based on McIndoe’s philosophy that ‘…the surgeon’s responsibility to the patient extended from the moment of injury until and beyond his resettlement into normal civilian life’, this committee, chaired by McIndoe himself, was concerned with the improvement of the patients’ quality of life outside of the operating theatre. Various initiatives involved providing facilities or equipment for the diversion of the patients whilst in the hospital, but a large part of the committee’s work also lay in ‘resettlement’ – ensuring that the Guinea Pigs had the necessary resources to create a fulfilling and sustainable life for themselves in the future.  This might be in the form of further education and training, assistance in finding employment, or even providing money or physical items where needed. The committee minutes in McIndoe’s files offer striking insight into the extent of the hospital’s involvement in this aspect of the patients’ rehabilitation.

Joanna McConville, Project Archivist

[1] Archibald McIndoe, ‘Total reconstruction of the burned face’ (The Bradshaw Lecture 1958), British Journal of Plastic Surgery 36 (1983): p. 143

[2] Leonard Mosley, Faces from the Fire, (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1962), p. 95

[3] Emily Mayhew, The Reconstruction of Warriors: Archibald McIndoe, The Royal Air Force and the Guinea Pig Club, (Greenhill Books, 2004), p. 202

[4] Geoffrey Page, Shot Down in Flames (originally published as Tale of a Guinea Pig, 1999), (London: Grub Street, 2011), p. 139

[5] Emily Mayhew, The Reconstruction of Warriors, p. 156

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From Windsor to West Sussex: Wedding Fashion from the Archives

While the country gets swept along in the media frenzy of the royal wedding this weekend, here at WSRO we’re looking back at some of the memories and celebrations that are preserved in our collections.

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PH 25397 – Wedding of Lady May Cambridge and Captain Henry Abel Smith in Balcombe, West Sussex – The bridesmaid is Princess Elizabeth, aged five and a half (the future Queen Elizabeth II). Guests included the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), and the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth)

On Saturday, all eyes will be on the young couple, and every detail of their day will be scrutinised for years to come. If previous royal weddings are anything to go by, the fashion choices of the bridal party will not only be discussed in minute detail, but filter down to inspire an entire generation of brides. Like it or not, the undeniable influence of royal style has spanned centuries. The Duchess of Cambridge’s Issa engagement announcement dress sold out in 5 minutes, and copy-cat rings can still be found on the high street. An entire decade was defined by the Emmanuel’s puff-sleeved creation for Princess Diana, which has since been voted the “Most Influential Wedding Dress of All Time”. However, like with so many of our accepted cultural traditions (including most of Christmas, as discussed in a previous blog) it is Queen Victoria that can take the credit for influencing many of the recognisable wedding trends we still see today. It is widely accepted that Victoria changed bridal fashion forever by popularising the white wedding gown, opting for pale silk satin and Devonshire lace in a time when brides could often be seen walking down the aisle in anything from pink to black.

Likewise, wedding photographers across the globe may also have Queen Victoria to thank, as one of the earliest examples of a posed wedding photograph is a studio recreation of her wedding with Prince Albert. As photographic techniques were not fully developed when they wed in 1840, 14 years later in 1854 the couple once again donned their famous outfits and captured their ‘wedding day’ on film.

With the eyes of the world on Windsor this weekend, there will be no escaping the camera lens for the latest royal couple, but we thought we would take this opportunity to

Garland N485 - 1924
Garland N485 – Miss M Hughes’ wedding at Southwater (19 June 1924)

look a little closer to home, and highlight some of the wonderful photographs of West Sussex couples celebrating their love throughout the years. From our extensive George Garland photographic archive, to a collection of images from the Chichester Photographic Society, decades of young couples show how the changing trends and traditions of wedding style filter down from Queens to ‘commoners’.

Garland N12125 - 1935

Garland N12125 – Comber Homer wedding (Oct 1935)

Garland N22151 - 1943

Garland N22151 – Morris Clifford wedding (May 1943)

Garland N40695 - 1953

Garland N 40695 – Kirdford wedding (June 1953)

 

CPS

CPS 1094-15 - 1962

CPS 1094/15 – Butler Wilson wedding (3 Mar 1962)

CPS 3747-15 - 1960s

CPS 3747/15 (1960s)

CPS 4267-3

CPS 4267/3 (1960s)

 

 

 

 

Lauren Clifton

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A Call to Arms! – The Royal Sussex Regiment Heritage Project

RSR logoWest Sussex Record Office are developing an exciting new project to catalogue, digitise and provide access to the historic collections of The Royal Sussex Regiment dating back over 260 years. This will be a ground-breaking opportunity to use the combined collections to develop innovative ways for people of all ages across the UK and beyond to engage with their heritage.

The Collections

The project will cover both the archive and the museum collections of The Royal Sussex Regiment (RSR). It is one of the most extensive collections relating to a county regiment in the UK and dates from 1701 to 1966.

The RSR Archive and Library are held at the West Sussex Record Office. They consist of RSR archive and library sketchmore than 30,000 items, including nominal rolls, enlistment books, battalion orders, unit war diaries, service papers, personal diaries, correspondence, photographs, audio-visual material, newspaper cuttings, regimental journals and printed books. Notable material includes detailed recollections of the Napoleonic Wars, a diary of the ill-fated expedition to relieve General Gordon at Khartoum in 1884/5, 600 photographs taken during the Boer War in South Africa, and the illustrated diaries (see right) of Arundel artist Ralph Ellis who served in France during the First World War.

The RSR Museum Collections were formerly held at Eastbourne Redoubt and are currently stored in temporary accommodation with no public access. These collections contain over 9,000 items including paintings, medals, uniforms, badges, weapons, RSR Museum collectionsmusical instruments and silver plate. The objects relate not only to the RSR but also to its predecessors, including the 35th Regiment of Foot, 107th Regiment of Foot and the Sussex Militia. Notable items include an early 18th century Sussex Militia coatee (jacket), an Indian knife, pipe and musket balls from the Seven Years’ War in North America (1756-1763), a watercolour of the Battle of Abu Klea during the Sudan Campaign of 1884-88/5, a rare Gold Medal from the Battle of Maida in 1806, the first time Napoleon’s forces were defeated, ten Waterloo Medals and three Victoria Crosses from the First World War.

Project Aims

The project will create a new RSR Catalogue enabling the combined collections to be searched together for the first time. An extensive preservation and digitisation programme will enable material from the collections to be made accessible online and to be used for digital displays and lifelong learning.

An RSR Heritage Website will be developed providing access to the new catalogue, digital images and archive film clips as well as a range of information and learning resources. The website will also host a new online database, listing every known soldier who served from 1701 to 1966.Call to Arms poster

An Educational Programme will be developed with the potential to involve schools and colleges from across East and West Sussex. Visits and activities will enable pupils and students to use original material at the Record Office as well as to access extensive online learning resources for ongoing work in the classroom.

Public Events will be held across the County including talks, community events and a travelling exhibition. This will be supported by a marketing campaign which will include leaflets, press releases, newspaper and magazine articles, social media and blogs to promote the project and engage with a wide range of audiences.

A key part of the project will be an Oral History initiative designed to encourage surviving RSR veterans to be interviewed about their experiences. Interviews would cover many conflicts from World War Two to Northern Ireland in the 1960s, encompassing places as diverse as Egypt, Jordan, Germany, Korea, Aden, Malta and Gibraltar.

Volunteers will have the opportunity to play a key role in the project with the potential to become part of specialist teams involved in listing and indexing, digitisation and preservation, oral history and research. Museum medals

The project will also create opportunities to engage with military and civilian audiences across Sussex and beyond including the armed forces, service charities and local communities as well as RSR veterans and supporters. West Sussex County Council is an active member of the Sussex Armed Forces Champions scheme and has a Military Champion in the Cabinet:

http://www.sussexarmedforcesnetwork.nhs.uk/professionals/champions/

https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/news/county-councillor-to-champion-armed-forces/

The Royal Sussex Heritage Project will be a partnership project between the West Sussex Record Office, the Royal Sussex Regimental Association, the Royal Sussex Regiment Museum Trust, the Army Museums Ogilby Trust, the National Army Museum, West Sussex Library Service, Screen Archive South East, the University of Chichester and West Sussex Archives Society. An application will be made to the Heritage Lottery Fund to support the proposed work and we are seeking widespread views to inform the project.

We will shortly be submitting a major bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund and other funding providers to support a Royal Sussex Regiment Heritage Project. We are keen to gather your views to inform our project moving forward, so please have your say and complete a questionnaire at the Record Office, or fill out our online survey –

http://bit.do/RSRHproject

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Historic baking – 18th Century Sponge Biscuits

At West Sussex Record Office, our aim is to make our extensive archive collections ‘come alive’ for our researchers, and engage them with the history of the county they call home. Many records create a vivid image of what life was like for our ancestors, but none do the job quite like the commonplace books and family diaries that record the rural communities in Sussex. From our great estate collections, to individual family’s farming accounts, you will find information that paints a portrait of what everyday life was like. For example, the recipes we find recorded in these volumes tell us so much not only about what a certain family was eating, but the produce available to them at that time, the developments and fashions in home cooking, the advances in kitchen equipment, farming, and food production. In a bid to really make the archives come alive, we have taken to the kitchen and attempted to recreate some of the cakes and bakes found in our historic collections.Recipe

Dating to 1787, this recipe book belongs in the family archive of the Reverend T. A. Maberley, who became Vicar of Cuckfield in 1841. The 1861 census shows him and his wife, Caroline, living at the Vicarage with their two daughters, Leonore and Mary, and five servants. He was well-loved by his parishioners, who put up a triumphal arch when he returned from a tour of Europe in 1864, and when he died in 1877, a parishioner recalled ‘when the church bell tolled for his death we all sat down and wept’.

There were two recipe books amongst the Maberley family travel diaries and Bookpapers, with this one dating 1787, and other volumes ranging until the early 19th century. Prior to its transfer to the Record Office in 1977, the collection was deposited in Chichester City Museum in 1966 by a Mrs E Fisher, who wrote that she was the last of the Maberley and Fisher families.

Avoiding the (many) recipes involving calves heads, tongues, hearts, and various other body parts, I set myself the challenge of recreating one of the Maberley family’s trusted dishes. Choosing a relatively simple ‘Sponge Biscuits’ recipe, the results could range from cupcake to digestive, and the name excuses my efforts.

Take the weight of Eight Eggs of sugar & the weight of ten in fine flour & fourteen eggs, beat the whites well with a whisk till they are like snow, beat the yolks & sugar together for half an hour, then mix the whites and yolks together with the rind of 2 lemons grated – when that is done – shake in the flour & mix it well with a spoon, they must be baked in a slow oven in tin moulds.

Thankfully using the universal weighing system of ‘eggs’, the recipe was relatively easy to adapt for modern baking. However, not wanting to deprive the rest of Sussex of their Platedweekend breakfasts, I halved the recipe to use a mere 7 eggs, and in doing so, saved my arm the full half an hour of beating. Still somehow ending up with 36 small sponges, the result was a surprisingly light, lemony, not too eggy, cake.

As only a handful remain in the Record Office staff room, I can only assume that they are as tasty in 2018 as they were over 200 years ago.

Throughout the summer, we will be raiding the archives to find more historic recipes to convert and attempt to bake. Posting the results here on our blog, please feel free to join in, or suggest any historic recipes your family may still use.

Lauren Clifton

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Queen Victoria Hospital Archive Project: treatment of burns

We’re very pleased to introduce this guest post which has been written by distinguished plastic surgeon, Mr Tom Cochrane, who was not only consultant plastic surgeon at Queen Victoria Hospital for many years, but also honorary plastic surgeon to the Guinea Pig Club. Throughout this time, he has supported the Guinea Pigs in many other ways, giving his time selflessly towards advice on medical, social and pension problems for over 50 years.

The disregard with which our skin is often treated remains a lasting curiosity to those engaged in its repair when it has been severely damaged. It is no exaggeration to say that it is probably the most important structure of our body, having a multitude of functions, all of which are crucial to our survival. It is, too, the most difficult organ to replace, the most allergenic and thus the least available for transfer from one individual to another. Until relatively recently, a burn injury affecting greater than 30% of the body surface of an adult and 15% in a child was expected to prove fatal, either in the early post-burn period during which precious vital fluids are lost, or subsequently through the loss of its irreplaceable role in the prevention of infection.

Even now that we have learned to overcome some of the challenges, severe burn injuries remain a very real threat to life. Recovery is virtually always associated with prolonged disability. If skin is lost and not adequately and immediately replaced the body responds by attempting to close the open wound through the deposition of scar tissue which shrinks in its attempt to close the defect resulting in contractures, the formation of which cause loss of function and disfigurement.

Prior to World War Two, major burn injuries were largely cared for by general surgeons, few of whom had the expertise to manage the gross physiological changes occurring in the initial ‘shock phase’ and even fewer in techniques of skin replacement in quantities sufficient to heal extensive areas of loss. There were but four Plastic Surgeons in the United Kingdom and precious few worldwide. Of these, Archibald McIndoe as Consultant to the RAF was landed with the responsibility to care for men from this service, victims of severe burn injuries. Aged under forty he faced the task of establishing a specialist unit, admittedly in a brand new hospital but it was a ‘cottage’ hospital designed to fulfil the needs of a local community. He needed an immediate expansion of surgeons capable of treating an unknown, possibly and as it turned out, large number of cases. Support staff was urgently required, nurses prepared to face the noxious smells of burned flesh yet anxious to boost the sagging morale of virile young men during a lengthy recovery. Nurses capable and willing to spend nights on duty engaged in threading fine surgical needles, repairing punctures in rubber gloves, cutting up gauze to pack sterilising drums with dressing materials, all in a restricted space normally provided with large windows, now blacked out and protected from blast; thus an atmosphere of poor ventilation; and all this beneath skies full of dog-fighting aircraft.

Instruments for this type of work were in short supply. McIndoe was already skilled in harvesting sheets of tissue paper thin skin grafts using an open razor with a ten inch blade which had to be stropped and re-sterilised for each case. He demanded that his new recruits to the specialty should achieve similar skills for, after a relatively short introduction, they were to be dispersed to RAF hospitals throughout the country wherein immediate care was available. It was to these units that McIndoe later made regular trips and where he selected cases for transfer to East Grinstead. Ever conscious of the fundamental role of our faces and our hands in our interpersonal communication, (especially between a young man and his sweetheart!) and dexterity in employment (just those structures mutilated in the typical ‘airman’s burn’) he concentrated much of his effort on repair of these.

At the time there was but one commonly applied dressing, a gel containing tannic acid. This often produced disastrous consequences and its popularity had to be tackled. McIndoe designed and his nurses manufactured an alternative, a non-stick combination of curtain gauze and Vaseline – in various forms still in use today! His invention of the saline bath together with this ‘non-stick’ material contributed hugely to pain relief during dressing changes. Remember, there were no antibiotics and precious few anti-bacterial agents then!

Many of the surgical techniques employed came from the past, particularly from World War One. Some required adaptation. New procedures were designed but perhaps by far the most important innovation lay in the approach adopted to social and psychological support.

It was in the nature of the fighter squadrons and later in bomber crews to form ‘bands of brothers’ that cared deeply for one another. It is hardly surprising then that a similar formation developed amongst an enlarging number, all of whom had experienced ‘trial by fire’ and all of whom were facing a prolonged period of reconstruction through multiple operations. Thus the foundation of the Guinea Pig Club which McIndoe and his team thoroughly endorsed. They always willingly joined the boys in a drink and a sing song. He encouraged them to witness the treatment of fellow Guinea Pigs taking camaraderie into the realms of mutual support, building confidence in an ultimate victory over adversity.

He, McIndoe, realised that this mutual support that was developing between his patients was a powerful tool in the restoration of self confidence too, even amongst those who had suffered the most disastrous disfigurement and crippling hand injuries. He pursued this ‘therapy’ with the utmost vigour and much of his success is down to his skill in involving (often reluctant) ‘authorities’ together with the remarkably generous people of East Grinstead. His efforts in this regard were prodigious and he quite clearly, almost single handed, managed to alter the mindset of officialdom.

Post-war, rehabilitation at Headley Court and Chessington grew from this, the former becoming the renowned tri-service establishment that it now is.

Sadly, the records of this achievement were to be buried beneath those of his reputation for surgical excellence. Perhaps the moment has arrived to rethink history and link this fundamental part of the story to the careful preservation of the Guinea Pig’s medical archive.

Mr Tom Cochrane, FRCS

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Priory Park 100

_DSC1183 CROPPED

In 2018 it will be 100 years since the Duke of Richmond and Gordon gave Priory Park to the people of Chichester for their leisure and as a perpetual memorial to those who lost their lives in during WWI. Priory Park 100 is an initiative run by the Friends of Priory Park to celebrate this centenary throughout 2018. Working to sustain this community resource for future generations, and helping people to discover and explore

PH1986

PH1986-Cricket match in Priory Park (1946)

the park’s rich 1500 year history, Priory Park 100 are hosting a programme of events culminating in an ‘Anniversary Week’ in September. From parachute jumps, to tea parties, a re-enactment of the Siege of Chichester, and a vintage car display, check out the programme of events on the Priory Park 100 website for more information.  

Richard Plowman, Chairman of the Friends of Priory Park, believes that the centenary is an appropriate moment to reflect on the park’s enviable reputation, and has used the archives of West Sussex Record Office to delve in to it’s rich history.

PH12597

PH12597-Gatekeeper of Priory Park (1890s)

“I was intrigued by this little cutting concerning Priory Park and if you want to find out more come along to my talk at 7pm  Tuesday 24th April at the West Sussex Record Office. Sydney Charles Wooderson  MBE was one of the best athletes in the world in the 1930’s and  1940’s and held the world mile record for nearly five years. The record was set in London’s Motspur Park on 28 August 1937 at 4min 6. 4 seconds. His prowess as an athlete had given him the nick name of  “The Mighty Atom”, along with a huge popular following.  So what record was he trying to break in Priory Park and did he succeed?  Come along to my talk to find out this and much more about the fascinating history of Priory Park and how the Friends of Priory Park are celebrating  this centennial year of 2018 of  Priory Park.  It was  given by 7th Duke of Richmond and Gordon to the people of Chichester on September 30th , 1918 for recreation and as a perpetual war memorial Richard Plowman - Priory Park 100for the fallen in WW1. Priory Park 100 will reflect the history of the Park in a series of unique and exciting events and who knows there might be the odd record broken as well.  WSRO  have found some wonderful film clips from days gone by in Priory Park, you might even recognise yourself, maybe your parents,  grandparents or the Mighty Atom.”

Book tickets for Richard’s talk ‘Priory Park 100 – Romans, Roundheads, and the Rolling Stones’ at the Record Office on Tuesday 24th April at 7pm.  Tickets are £8 including refreshments, and must be booked in advance by calling our reception on 01243 753602.

Lauren Clifton

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Queen Victoria Hospital Archive Project: Guinea Pigs for life

This is the second of two posts about the Guinea Pig club.

Guinea Pigs enjoy drinks with McIndoe, Christmas 1948

As discussed in our previous post (see ‘Introducing the Guinea Pig Club’), the Guinea Pig Club began its existence as a social and drinking club. However, it was not long before it became much more than that. Archibald McIndoe was quick to recognise the potential of the club in helping to enact his own holistic philosophy of patient care. The foundation of the Guinea Pig Club helped to consolidate and maintain bonds of friendship and the environment of mutual support and camaraderie which existed amongst the patients of Ward III, and which McIndoe considered to be such an important aspect of their rehabilitation and recovery.

There were also other very practical benefits. The raison d’être of the annual reunion dinners, the first of which was held in 1942, was of course to provide an occasion for old friends and comrades to re-connect. These events, which often extended over a day or two and were referred to by the Guinea Pig club members as ‘The Lost Weekend’*, were a chance both to share old memories and create new ones and played a crucial part in helping to establish a sense of belonging and shared identity amongst the Guinea Pigs. At the same time, however, they also became an extremely useful opportunity, with Guinea Pigs all congregating together, for McIndoe (and later his successors) to check on the Guinea Pigs’ physical recovery and identify where patients needed further treatment or surgery.

Account of the 1963 Lost Weekend, which 200 people attended

As a formal organisation, which became a registered charity in 1945, the Guinea Pig Club became a source of advice, support and advocacy for its members as they sought to re-adjust to life in the world outside of Queen Victoria Hospital and East Grinstead. McIndoe and others such as Welfare Officer Edward Blacksell, and anaesthetist Russell Davies, who took up honorary positions on the club’s committee alongside a number of the Guinea Pigs, worked with dedication, liaising with the RAF, with employers and others to assist and promote the interests of the Guinea Pigs and provide for the security of their future in the long term.

The Guinea Pig Club also launched its own magazine, known as the Guinea Pig, the first issue of which was published in April 1944, and this became an invaluable means by which members of the club continued to maintain contact and share news years after they had left the hospital and dispersed around the world.

Guinea Pig Club magazine

It is a tribute to the determination of the Guinea Pigs, and to the success of the support network fostered by the club that so many of its members went on to lead full, active lives after the war, challenging contemporary expectations of disability and disfigurement. A number of Guinea Pigs went on to fly again, some working for civilian airlines after the war. Some Guinea Pig Club members, such as Sandy Saunders and Bertram Owen-Smith, were so inspired by the transformative work of the team at Queen Victoria Hospital that they went on to pursue careers in medicine. Owen-Smith who had been an insurance clerk before the war, ended up training to become a plastic surgeon. Others, such as Sam Gallop, became vocal advocates for disability rights, and many more used their experience to inspire new generations of burns victims. The story of the Guinea Pig Club is one which shows what can be achieved when people are prepared to act as, in the words of McIndoe, ‘the trustees of each other’.

*A typically irreverent reference to the copious amounts of alcohol enjoyed on the occasion by some of the Guinea Pigs.

Joanna McConville, Project Archivist

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