Sir Archibald McIndoe and his 'boys' singing at the Guinea
Pig Club reunion in 1948. Photo supplied.
A prominent English sculptor is creating a statue to
honour pioneering plastic surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe, who
grew up in Dunedin.
Britain's Daily Mail newspaper reported sculptor
Martin Jennings' father, Michael, suffered horrific burns
during a tank blaze in World War 2.
Mr Jennings credits Sir Archibald for saving his father from
a life of disfigurement after finding him in a Birmingham
hospital in 1944. He ordered Mr Jennings, who was bandaged
from foot to toe, with a hole for his mouth, to West Sussex
When finished, the statue will sit in East Grinstead, West
Sussex, where Sir Archibald was based at a small cottage
hospital. The town became known as ''the town that did not
stare'', a reference to the presence of Sir Archibald's
The Oxfordshire sculptor told the Daily Mail he only
recently fully appreciated what Sir Archibald had done when
he saw photographs of his father before and after surgery.
His father was awarded the Military Cross for going back to
the burning tank for medication for his men, making his
Mr Jennings had thought his life was over, but after surgery
became a teacher and a headmaster, and had 11 children, the
Daily Mail reported. Mr Jennings sculpted the statue
of Sir John Betjeman in London's St Pancras Station.
The men helped by Sir Archibald's experimental treatments
formed the Guinea Pig Club, which held an annual meeting for
more than six decades to honour the work of the man who died
Sir Archibald was born in Dunedin on May 4, 1900, the second
of four children. He attended Otago Boys' High School, and
studied at Otago Medical School. In a feature about Sir
Archibald and the Guinea Pig Club in the Otago Daily
Times in 2006, Barry Cardno wrote that Sir Archibald was
noted early in his career for his quick, cool judgement.
He moved to London in 1930 from the United States, where he
studied surgery at the Mayo Clinic.
In England, he contacted a distant relative, Dunedin-born Sir
Harold Gillies, who is considered the father of 20th-century
plastic surgery. Sir Harold was knighted in 1930, for his
work treating the injuries caused by shrapnel and bullets in
World War 1.
Sir Harold taught Sir Archibald the skills of the burgeoning
specialty, which the younger man would advance through
pioneering new techniques.
Sir Harold was appointed principal plastic surgeon for the
army at the outbreak of World War 2, and Sir Archibald was
sent to East Grinstead to establish a unit providing
specialist treatment for a new form of injury affecting
airmen, known as ''Hurricane Burn''.
He developed a new way of treating serious flesh burns,
keeping the skin moist so it could be peeled back to make way
for skin grafts.
He understood the psychological effects of such injuries, and
kept the men's spirits high.
Last year, Otago Boys' High School announced it was
establishing a house system for the first time. One of the
four new houses, McIndoe, is named for the illustrious old