|Sir Harold Gillies copyright Dr Andrew Bamjii|
I was shocked on discovering the photographs of his patients, some taken over several years and showing the painstaking surgeries they endured. These young soldiers who in a split-second lost part of their face to hot scrapnel, or a bullet, had so much to thank him and his expertise for as he slowly gave them back some semblance of normality that they must have yearned for. Looking at photos of some of these men when they were much older, it was difficult to imagine that they'd lost a nose, or chin years before as the reconstructive surgery had been done so well.
Sir Harold Gillies was the cousin of Sir Archibald McIndoe the pioneering surgeon in World War 2 who is probably best known for his achievements with his patients who he referred to as his 'guinea pigs. They went on to set up a social club called, The Guinea Pig Club in 1941. I researched his work for the sequel to Broken Faces, Splintered Lives, which I'm hoping to be published next year.
It's hard to imagine how much these two cousins achieved in these two wars and how many lives they helped to rebuild. Both true historical heroes.