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Duke dedicates memorial to burned WWII airmen

By Richard Vernalls

An inspirational band of badly burned Second World War airmen who went under the knife during the pioneering days of plastic surgery have had a lasting memorial unveiled in their honour.

A handful of the surviving members of the once 649-strong Guinea Pig Club, now in their 80s and 90s, watched as their president, the Duke of Edinburgh, unveiled the stone at the National Memorial Arboretum yesterday.

All of the club's members, many of whom fought in the Battle of Britain against the Luftwaffe, received treatment for disfiguring burns at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead by the visionary surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe.

Formed in 1941, the men took the name of their club from the guinea pig, because of the experimental nature of the surgical procedures they underwent.

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