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Honouring The 'Guinea Pigs' Of World War II

Prince Philip has officially unveiled a memorial to members of the 'Guinea Pig Club' at the National Memorial Arboretum...

Prince Philip has officially unveiled a memorial to members of the 'Guinea Pig Club', at the National Memorial Arboretum. 
 
As the name suggests, these were men who underwent pioneering, untested reconstructive surgery during the Second World War. 
 
A steady procession of well-wishers made their way to the unveiling of the latest memorial to grace the grounds of the National Memorial Arboretum.
 
It's dedicated to men whose kinship was born out of terrible suffering– and whose recovery was a shared experience. 
 
The Guinea Pig Club was formed in 1941, comprised of badly wounded and burned men, many of whom fought in the Battle Of Britain. 
 
They were being treated at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead by pioneering surgeron Sir Archibald McIndoe and his team.
 
They were guinea pigs quite literally – trying new, untested treatments to aid their recovery.
 
95-year-old Dr Sandy Saunders was a member of the club – and strove to erect a memorial to them at the Arboretum.
 
Today Sandy had the honour of escorting Prince Philip to unveil the memorial. 
 
The Prince has been club president since the early 1960's.
 
Together, the two 95-year-olds drew back the Union flag to reveal the memorial. 
 
Made of Cumbrian Slate, one side has the outline of a Spitfire wing, the other the profile of Sir Archibald McIndoe, traced by the smoke and flames of a crashing Hurricane. 
 
The pioneering surgeon;s grandson, Jamie Bebb, was also in attendance.
 
Prince Philip spent time talking with Arboretum staff, as the guinea pigs took their place by the memorial that will forever remember the trauma and pain of their early reconstructive surgery and the bond that experience forged, which remains with them 75 years on.