Memory of WWII airman will live on in hospital theatres

Friday 10th January 2020

Memory of WWII airman will live on in hospital theatres

Peter Morgan made a poignant return to the Queen Victoria Hospital, 75 years after his father, a member of the Guinea Pig Club, was first treated there.

The Guinea Pig Club, established in 1941, was a the name given to the group of British and allied aircrew injured during World War II who received experimental reconstructive plastic surgery, including facial reconstruction, at Queen Victoria Hospital by pioneering plastic surgeon Archibald McIndoe.

Peter’s father, Alan Morgan (pictured right), was involved in a flying incident in 1944 whilst returning from a mission with the 49 Squadron to Stuttgart on his 21st birthday. The flight engineer was left with severely frostbitten fingers after the main door of his Lancaster bomber flew open. He took his gloves off to close the door but passed out and his hands were stuck to the frozen fuselage. Alan was admitted to the Queen Victoria Hospital three days later where he had five operations, including having his fingers amputated, carried out by pioneering plastic surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe.

Alan, affectionately known to fellow members of the Guinea Pig Club as “Fingers Morgan”, sadly passed away last year. Peter, along with his father’s lifelong friend Joe Barrett, and Joe’s son Michael, visited the hospital to donate an IV drip stand with built in electrical input sockets to make a lasting impact in its operating theatres, an area Alan knew well. Despite his injuries Alan continued as an engineer after WWII and that is where he met Joe who trained as his apprentice. It was a legacy he later passed on to Peter who became Joe’s apprentice. The IV drip stand, carrying a plaque with Alan’s name, was specially made for the hospital by Joe’s medical equipment company SafetyMed Ltd.

Commenting on the donation Peter said: “Joe and Dad were lifelong friends and he supported him tremendously. When Joe suggested donating some equipment to Queen Victoria Hospital we wanted something that would be a fitting and lasting tribute to Dad and we think this is it.”

Beryl Hobson, Chair of Queen Victoria Hospital, said: “Alan was the first member of the Guinea Pig Club that I met and I was delighted to meet Peter and reminisce with him about his father. We would like to thank Peter, Joe and Michael for this kind donation which will make a real difference in our operating theatres. It will enable our theatre staff to plug in pumps and multiple pieces of medical equipment safely without the worry of trailing cables.”

Pictured: Michael Barrett, Peter Morgan, Paul Andrews Lead Operating Department Practitioner for anaesthetic support in Theatres, Joe Barrett and Beryl Hobson, Chair of Queen Victoria Hospital.

For more information please contact the QVH Press Office on 01342 414508.