During the Second World War a group of young men – mostly RAF aircrew who survived fiery crashes – formed a social club during their long recoveries and called themselves The Guinea Pig Club, in honour of the experimental treatments of pioneering plastic surgeon, Sir Archibald McIndoe. The RAF Benevolent Fund is proud to have supported The Guinea Pig Club since its inception and has provided assistance to many of its members over the years. Here, we tell the story of the Club, some of its members, and Sir Archibald.
Seventy-five years ago this summer, a handful of burned airmen formed The Guinea Pig Club. Today, we remember and celebrate the service of the Guinea Pigs and their surgeon, Sir Archibald McIndoe.
On 2 November, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh unveiled a memorial to the Guinea Pig Club at the National Arboretum in Staffordshire.
At 22-years-old, Robert 'Mac' Mathieson was left blinded when his Lancaster's windscreen suddenly exploded. Due to the nature of Mac's injuries, he was treated by the pioneering plastic surgeon Archibald McIndoe, becoming one of his 'guinea pigs.'
Watch our interviews with members of The Guinea Pig Club who share their stories of World War Two.