Friday, July 29, 2016
The gentlemen in the photo above are members of the Guinea Pig Club, a social club for patients who had undergone experimental reconstructive plastic surgery, generally after receiving burns injuries in aircraft during World War II. It was founded in 1941 by New Zealand plastic surgeon Archibald McIndoe who wanted to make the patients’ lives as normal as possible. The club continued to meet for 60 years after the war; annual reunions continued until 2007. The club even had its own theme song, known as “The Guinea Pig Anthem”:
We are McIndoe’s army,
We are his Guinea Pigs.
With dermatomes and pedicles,
Glass eyes, false teeth and wigs.
And when we get our discharge
We’ll shout with all our might:
“Per ardua ad astra”
We’d rather drink than fight.
John Hunter runs the gas works,
Ross Tilley wields the knife.
And if they are not careful
They’ll have your flaming life.
So, Guinea Pigs, stand ready
For all your surgeon’s calls:
And if their hands aren’t steady
They’ll whip off both your ears.
We’ve had some mad Australians,
Some French, some Czechs, some Poles.
We’ve even had some Yankees,
God bless their precious souls.
While as for the Canadians –
Ah! That’s a different thing.
They couldn’t stand our accent
And built a separate Wing.
We are McIndoe’s army …
Read about two other exclusive clubs at Futility Closet