View Full Version : 1938 References to 'Guinea Pig Club" Patients "No 1 and No 2."

31st January 2013, 11:15
I had not realised until today that Archibald McIndoe was appointed consultant in plastic surgery to the Royal Air Force in 1938.

On 19 September 1938 BA Swallow 2 G-AFIG crashed near Cranwell when it was caught in a storm while on a navigation course, this resultde in the death of the pilot: Plt Off Dennis Gerald Baker and an injury to the passenger Harold Arthur Cooper ‘Birdy’ Bird-Wilson 'Birdy' which resulted in him losing his nose. Note: This incident was NOT in 1939 as per some Obituaries of Bird-Wison.

During his recovery, he was placed in the care of Archibald McIndoe and became No 2 in the famous 'Guinea Pig Club'. Well the club was 'not formed until 1941' but can anyone ID who was Archibald McIndoe first patient?



bruce dennis
31st January 2013, 13:30
Shouldn't say this without being able to prove it but this is the way I understand it: the Guinea Pig Club was formed by the mutual co-operation of the patients and staff to include present and previous patients. As the ringmaster, McIndoe was Pig No 1 and dubbed 'Chief Pig', a title held until his death when Tom Gleave took on the role.

Perhaps someone who has studied the Pigs formally could correct this?


31st January 2013, 17:33
It was his cousin Harold Gillies who stimulated his lifelong passion for reconstructive surgery. McIndoe later became the consultant surgeon to the Royal Air Force, specialising in plastic surgery. Although plastic surgery was established during the First World War, McIndoe was one of only three experienced plastic surgeons in Britain when war was declared against Germany in 1939.

If I can plug my book 'Goldfish Caterpillars & Guinea Pigs' the accounts are well evidenced within. The club came about as a result of several members electing to create it and numbering of membership would not relate to anything other than at the formation of the club. Many men had been operated on prior to that event. I hope this helps.

31st January 2013, 17:40
Thanks Colin for the clarification. Anyway while googling I found a Battle Of Britain list in

The reconstruction of warriors:
Archibald McIndoe, the Royal Air Force and the Guinea Pig Club
E. R. Mayhew
Greenhill Books, 1 Sep 2004

The details in are not 100% accurate but I was wondering if anyone can add to the details below?

15 September 1940 Sgt Charles Alexander Lyall Hurry 46 Squadron Hurricane

"he baled out of his Hurricane I (P3816) over Chatham with burns on the face and hands."
Date of incident alo quoted as "18 September 1940?"

17 September 1940 Sgt Raymond Douglas Dunscombe 312 Squadron Hurricane

'In late August Dunscombe was posted to 312 Squadron, then being formed at Duxford.
On September 17 his aircraft was damaged in combat and he baled out,
sustaining injuries when he landed in a tree. His Hurricane "V7228",
crashed at Paley Farm, Folly Hill, near Cranbrook'

23 September 1940 Sgt Donald James Aslin 257 Squadron Hurricane

P2960 257 Sqn Groves Farm, Eastchurch, Kent SDF. Aslin wounded

24 September 1940 P/O Harold Arthur Cooper "Birdy" Bird-Wilson 17 Squadron Hurricane

"He baled out of his Hurricane I (P3878) at Chatham after combat with a Bf 109 (Adolph Galland) of JG 26." and was "slightly wounded" - Did Bird-Wilson actually require the services of Archibald McIndoe for this incident again - or is this actually a mistake for his 19 September 1938 incident

1 October 1940 P/O George Herman "Ben" Bennions 41 Squadron Spitfire

Spitfire Mk Ia X4559 41 Sqn Heatenthorn Farm, near Albourne, Sussex SDF

5 October 1940 Sgt John William McLaughlin 238 Squadron Hurricane

P3611 238 Sqn near Mere, Wilts. SDF
Sgt John William McLaughlin of 238 Squadron.
John McLaughlin was severely burned and became one of Mcindoe's Guinea Pigs.
His burns ended his flying career. John McLaughlin was flying as Red 3 in Hurricane P3611 coded: VK-L.

15 October 1940 Flt/Lt Arthur John Banham 229 Squadron Hurricane

P3124 229 Sqn South Street Farm, Stockbury, Kent SDF
On 15th of October 1940 he baled out of his Hurricane I (P3124)
wounded with burns after being shot down near Kent.

17 November 1940 P/O Eric Stanley 'Sawn Off Lockie' Lock 41 Squadron Spitfire #81642

Incident ??

18 November 1940 F/O Patrick Hardy Vesey Wells 249 Squadron Hurricane

Incident ??

Date of injury unknown:

Robert Lionel Frank Day 141 Squadron Defiant
Sgt Joseph Lowe 236 Squadron Hurricane
James Frederick John Macphail 603 Squadron Spitfire



1st February 2013, 13:04
Re: Date of injury unknown:

F/L Robert Lionel Frank Day 141 Squadron Defiant

Actually do not think this is BoB - I think this incident:

V1137 Boulton Paul Defiant Mk. I With No. 410 (NF) Squadron RCAF, when it struck trees in poor visibility whilst coming into land, it crashed and burst into flames on 8 December 1941, returning from an unsuccesful night interception operation at Black Dyke Farm, 2 m SE of North Berwick Pilot F/L R.L.F. Day seriously injuried and trapped. Gunner Sgt. J.J. Townsend also injured, but pulled pilot from wreckage and later awarded George Medal.

Also Sgt Joseph Lowe 236 Squadron is a Blenheim incident!

1st February 2013, 15:14

Townsend was awarded a BEM, not a George Medal.



There is some dispute about his actual name. He is listed as 937269 (130317) John James Stanley TOWNSEND elsewhere in the LG !


He was killed on 11-8-1943, serving with No.200 Sqn* (Listed on CWGC as: John Eric James

*Liberator GR.V BZ832. (F/O Lloyd Allan Trigg RNZAF, VC action [U-468]).


1st February 2013, 16:10
Col thanks fo the update!

Maybe Air 78 will confirm his real name!

"15 September 1940 Sgt Charles Alexander Lyall Hurry 46 Squadron Hurricane "

confirmed 18.9.40 Hurricane I P3816 46 Sqn Walderslade, near Chatham, Kent SDF


"18 November 1940 F/O Patrick Hardy Vesey Wells 249 Squadron Hurricane"

is actually

28.11.40 Hurricane I V6729 249 Sqn East Peckham, Kent

Only outstanding mysteries are

Sgt Joseph Lowe 236 Squadron Blenheim

P/O James Frederick John Macphail 603 Squadron Spitfire

Thanks Paul

30th April 2014, 11:09
I offer up Sgt Victor Charles Otter (later an Air Vice-Marshal) as possibly Guinea Pig "Number 1"


can anyone confirm he is listed in "McINDOE'S ARMY" - The Story of the Guinea Pig Club and its Indomitable Members

30th April 2014, 12:55

Something does not add up regarding Dunscombe.

I guess you know that the serial 'V7228' is spurious; ABS has it with 213S and WO 13/8/1940. 312S did not become operational until 2 October 1940 and by then was based at Speke. There is no mention of the incident you describe in BoBT&N , A/c Casualties in Kent 1940 or Fighter Command War Diaries. However MoTBoB does have it. I wonder if the date is correct, and/or a typo between 213 and 312 squadrons. I'm on the case!


30th April 2014, 13:27
he has come up before