Thursday, 26 May 2016

Remembering Dunkirk.

In May 1940, the "Phoney War" came to an end as German forces swept across northern France and Belgium. As the German forces advanced, the Commander of the British Expeditionary Force, General Viscount Gort realised that the Germans had the upper hand. The French Army fought desperately but it was no use. In a final desperate act, the French called on Gort to advance south and join them in the last stand, but Gort knew enough to realise that this could well mean the loss of all of his men.


So, on the 23rd May 1940, Gort gave the order to withdraw and for the troops to make their way to the port of Dunkirk. The Dunkirk evacuation was codenamed "Operation Dynamo" and took place between the 26th May 1940 and the 4th June. It was led by Vice-Admiral Bertram Ramsay. The codename came from the Dynamo room in the Dover cliffs where their operation HQ was based. Just before 7pm on May 26th, Churchill gave the order for Operation Dynamo to begin.

Unbelievably, Hitler had ordered his tanks to stop pursuing the BEF on the 24th May for reasons that remain unknown, although he trusted the Luftwaffe to be able to prevent the evacuation. The BEF, meanwhile had to fight their way to Dunkirk and try to hold off the Germans long enough while they waited for the ships to arrive to evacuate them from the beaches. They were joined by a small number of French and Belgian forces.

Back in England, the call went out across Britain for anyone with a boat to spare and many boats were requisitioned by the navy to be used for the evacuation. Local fisherman and private boat owners answered the call, including some from the Isle of Man. Many other boats were offered voluntarily, and a number of boats were taken by the navy whose owners could not be contacted. On the eve of the operation, King George VI attended a special service at Westminster Abbey as a national day of prayer had been declared and services were held all around the country.

On May 27th, 1940, a flotilla of ships like no other set sail; a mix of fishing boats, yachts, ferries, motorboats and more flowed from the Thames and out into the English Channel heading towards Dunkirk. Smoke and flames filled the sky above the small port and the crew on these boats risked their lives as the Germans attacked. The beaches were filled with men. Lines of them tumbled along the pier to reach awaiting ships while others waded out into the sea, struggling in deep water, often lapping over their heads as they tried to reach the smaller vessels.

Meanwhile, German artillery continued to bombard them and the Luftwaffe strafed them overhead. Churchill thought they might rescue around 50,000 men but by the end of the operation, approximately 340,000 men had been saved. The operation was the largest evacuation in military history.



In the background, Dunkirk glowed red as the small port burned. Ambulances were abandoned on the beach by the shore having emptied out their casualties for evacuation. A British destroyer was on the beach, bombed and burning and the harbour was partially blocked by sunken ships. The scene was absolute carnage and chaos. The small boats would fill up with men and ferry them out to the larger British ships further out in the deeper water, and then turn around and go back again for more. Lines of weary soldiers continued to trudge down to the shore, out into the sea, like a swarm of bedraggled ants. Shells whistled overhead and bombs exploded all around as bodies floated in the sea.

There were around 900 little boats that took part in the evacuation, often with only one or two crew aboard. The men waited in orderly lines for rescue, patiently while under constant attack by the shelling and the Luftwaffe above. Signaller Alfred Baldwin said "they looked as if they were waiting for a bus. There was no pushing or shoving."

The forces on the ground were also aided by the RAF, who flew around 3.500 sorties during the operation to defend the troops from the Luftwaffe. 145 RAF aircraft were lost and the Luftwaffe lost 156.

During the evacuation, there were over 200 ships and boats lost. HMS Wakeful was torpedoed on May 29th and sank in 15 seconds with the loss of 600 lives. There were around 90,000 British left behind, either killed at sea or on the beaches, wounded or prisoner's of war and more than 1,000 citizens of Dunkirk killed in the air raids.

While the evacuation was in progress, there were also atrocities. On May 27th, 97 men from the Royal Norfolk Regiment ran out of ammunition in the village of Le Paradis and surrendered to the Germans, only to be shot on the orders of the SS.

The little boats sailing up the Thames after Operation Dynamo
Churchill hailed the operation a "miracle" but he also warned the nation that "wars are not won by evacuations." He went on to deliver one of his most famous speeches in the House of Commons on the 4th June 1940, where he declared, "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender!"
Churchill also paid a special tribute to the RAF for their role in Operation Dynamo, in providing some protection to the waiting ships and soldiers.



Some of the returning soldiers worried about how they might be received back in Britain, and whether they might be thought of as cowards. They need not have fretted. Back in England they were given an orange, a sandwhich, a mug of tea and a very warm welcome, with civilians flooding to the station to greet them and offer help.

It was an amazing success, and as Churchill declared, a "miracle" and it was a turning point in the war, a definite blow to the German war machine. This "miracle" enabled Britain to regroup, and to prepare for war while strengthening her forces and preparing for the possible threat of a German invasion.



Friday, 20 May 2016

WWII - Melvin Rector, Former Mighty Eighth Air Gunner Remembered.

Former Air Gunner, Melvin Rector, 94, made his first and last journey back to England earlier this month since leaving our shores back in 1945. Sadly, on May 6th 2016, while visiting the Battle Of Britain Bunker in Herefordshire, Melvin suddenly passed away.

He was buried on the 18th May on British soil with full military honours. Initially, it was said to hold a simple service, but once the funeral director discovered Melvin's military past, they made a concentrated effort to give this heroic veteran the send off he deserved.



Melvin was a gunner on the B-17 the Memphis Belle, piloted by Captain R. Morgan whose crew was one of the first to complete 25 tours, way back on May 17th 1943. It is so poignant that he passed away during his visit here, his final journey before joining his brothers in arms. Blue skies, Sir. R.I.P.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Guinea Pig Club & Sir Archibald McIndoe

The Guinea Pig Club was formed on the grass, outside of Ward III at the Queen Victoria Hospital, in East Grinstead. A group of young men, all airmen who had received burns and were in the care of plastic surgeon, Archibald McIndoe, decided to form a drinking club to pass the time while they were stuck in the hospital. It was also seen as a way of maintaining contact with one another when they were finally discharged.

Initially, they called it the Maxillonians, after the Maxillo Facial Unit where they were receiving treatment, but later it would change to the Guinea Pig Club when an airman announced how they were all just "bloody guinea pigs" to the Maestro. The Maestro, of course, was Archibald, who the men sometimes called, Archie or the Boss. They looked up to him because when they first arrived, no matter how severely injured and disfigured they were, no matter how wretched, lost and alone they felt, he looked into their eyes and showed them empathy. And he always said, "Don't worry, we'll fix you up." In that short sentence, he offered hope, and it was a lifeline. 

The boys present on that fine July day in 1941 included Richard Hillary, Tom Gleave, Geoffrey Page, Peter Weeks, Joseph Capka, Bill Towers-Perkins and Russell Davies, an anaesthetist. Peter Weeks had been badly smashed up, as was the phrase at that time, and he was confined to a wheelchair. The boys made him their treasurer because he had no chance of absconding with the funds. The secretary was chosen because his hands were badly burned and bandaged and so he was unable to take notes. Such amazing humour despite their very grave situations.


Richard Hillary had written a book about his experiences so far in the war. Hillary was a fighter pilot who had been shot down twice in the Battle of Britain. His book, “The Last Enemy,” was quite a success, and while he was recovering, the RAF sent him to America, on a propaganda tour. However, once he arrived there, officials took one look at him and decided it was a bad idea to unleash him on the public. Hillary was humiliated, and when Archie heard about it, he was furious, and he vented his anger directly on the Air Ministry and Washington.

However, some good came of Hillary's trip after all. Soon after he arrived back in England, Archie began receiving letters from America. In them, were kind words, offers of employment and most generous of all, money orders and notes. Strangers were sending donations to the men on Ward III. After Hillary’s success with his book, the trip to America and newspaper articles, the story of the Guinea Pig Club and the plight of the men had reached far and wide. This forged the beginning of the charity, and it is one that went from strength to strength. Over the years, it has helped these “Guinea Pigs” at times when they needed it, such as with buying suitable accommodation, and helping them to establish their own businesses. There’s probably no other club in the world like it, and of course, the price you paid to join was rather high. To qualify for membership you had to have been "mashed", "fried" or "boiled" by the war in the air and sent to the Queen Victoria Hospital, in the care of Archie McIndoe.

Nothing was too much trouble for Archie, and he was determined that "his boys" as he called the men, would have the best of care. He needed to patch them up. He had to reconstruct their faces, hands, treat burns, carry out skin grafts and much more. But beyond the physical problems, a larger problem remained. The psychological scars ran much deeper, and some of these boys sank into depression, and some even became suicidal. In the early days of the war, while burned pilots from the Battle of Britain were recovering, Archie was horrified to hear of their treatment by the public in cities such as London. People would be openly shocked and react quite badly at the men's disfigured faces. Comments such as "They ought to be locked up," were heard. 

Archie was not going to put up with that. He made it his mission to involve the local town of East Grinstead in the care of his boys. With that, he spoke with friends and other prominent people within the town and devised a plan. Families nearby generously offered invitations to tea to groups of Archie's boys. Nurses and volunteers chaperoned them to the pub and the cinema. They received invites to parties and dances, and locals frequently visited them at the hospital, bringing library books, reading and writing letters and talking to them. The boys learned to socialise while they tried to come to terms with their altered image and any resultant disabilities, and in groups, they had camaraderie and support. 

The town of East Grinstead took these boys under their wing; they loved them and were thankful for their devoted service to their country, and now, it was the turn of the people to show their devotion to this select few who had given up so much in their youth. East Grinstead became known as "the town that did not stare."
Ward III Christmas 1941 Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Step back in time to the early 40's, and pay a visit to Ward III. It's not like any ward you've seen before, I can assure you. The beds might line each side in regimental rows, but you'll see a beer keg on a table and a gramophone. There's a piano, and someone will belt out a tune if you ask. There's a young lad down at the end, encased in bandages from his head down. He has slits for eyes and a gap for his nose and mouth, and when he wants to smoke, he'll let you know.

A nurse is asked to flick the radio on and duly does so. A Glen Miller tune swings out, and a young man in RAF blues springs up and grabs her by the hand. She blushes and laughs, sneaking a glance towards Sister's office just in case she's looking. She's not. They dance, watched by eager eyes all around - men in varying stages of recovery. Another airman is snoring. He's out totally, having rolled in around four o'clock that morning, completely drunk. There are flowers everywhere, in vases on every man's bedside table. That's another of Archie's ploys. The scent disguises the smell of burnt flesh. Ladies in the town hand deliver bunches of flowers each week. 
Archibald Mcindoe at the piano. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Above the sound of the radio, voices can be heard, laughing, shouting, swearing occasionally. Nurses must endure the flirting and slaps on the bottom from a few of the men, but it’s all part of the job. They must be pretty to nurse here. Archie wants his boys to be able to talk to beautiful girls. He does not want them to become shy, retiring recluses. It’s so vital that they leave here in a positive frame of mind, with the vision to see that they can still lead a full life; they can get married and have children and work for a living. That vision is oh so important and yet there are a few men here who have lost their sight. But thanks to their Maestro and their brothers in arms here, they have developed that extraordinary vision to realise that they too can have a real life if they want it badly enough.

And one final note. You can forget the doctor-patient relationship nonsense. Archie was one of the best plastic surgeons around and a pioneer of treatment. But there was nothing stuffy or pompous about him. He was a New Zealander, and when he first arrived in London in the early 30s, he was treated as such – as a colonial. So, in a sense, he knew a little about being singled out, being different. However, with his competent surgeon’s skill, and his vibrant, bubbly personality, he won people over. He certainly had the adoration of his boys, and he spent time with them. He’d join them for a pint on the ward or at the pub, play the piano and have a sing-a-long. He’d be at the same house parties, and even invited groups of them to his home for drinks. Richard Hillary called him “Mac,” which is so informal and just shows the level of familiarity they had.

Sadly, Richard Hillary was tragically killed in a flying accident while carrying out a night training exercise in his Blenheim Bomber in January 1943. Archie was due to see Richard and perform further surgery on his eye, which had become increasingly problematic. The truth is that Hillary could have had this seen too much sooner, but he had not wanted to make a fuss at his base, RAF Charterhall, and did not wish to be seen as making an excuse to get out of doing his duty. Night flying, it seemed, was just too much for him with his physical problems. Archie was devastated and angry at what he saw as an unnecessary death.

Archibald McIndoe developed his own health problems and on April 11th 1960, he passed away at the age of 59. Today, the Guinea Pig Club remains, although its members have declined from the original 649 to 18. Sandy Saunders, is one of the fittest members at the age of 93, and he has just launched an appeal to raise funds for a memorial to the Guinea Pig Club and its members. If you visit the following link, you can read more about this and make a donation.

https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/sandyandmaggie-saunders?utm_id=106&utm_term=9WPKMzXVy


Saturday, 7 May 2016

Victory in Europe, 1945


On the 7th May 1945, many people heard the whisperings that the Germans had surrendered and the war in Europe was finally over. On the 8th May 1945, Winston Churchill broadcast to the nation, stating that at 02:41am the previous day, General Jodl signed an unconditional surrender of the German Forces which would be effective as of 11:01 pm that day, May 8th. After six years with the loss of millions of lives, the war in Europe was finally at an end. Bells that had stood silent now peeled out all around the country and boats sounded their horns while fighter aircraft performed victory rolls overhead.

London had born the brunt of the bombing and so it seemed to be a fitting tribute that the capital should host the largest celebration of victory, something which drew crowds from all over the country.

On the other side of the Atlantic, President Harry Trueman gallantly dedicated the victory to his predecessor, President Roosevelt, who had died a few weeks earlier on the 12th April.

People immediately rejoiced and celebrations began which were to last for two whole days all across the country, across the Channel and throughout Europe, Canada and America. In Britain, people went out into the streets and celebrated with their neighbours, hanging bunting and putting out flags. Years of rationing, of making do and mend, of the mandatory and meagre five inches of bath water, all faded into the background as people seized this moment; their moment, their freedom now secured.

In London, large crowds amassed in Trafalgar Square, and also in the Mall as people made their way to Buckingham Palace where thousands chanted, "We want the King!" At 3pm, Churchill made a radio broadcast which could be heard over the loud speakers, and a hush descended over the large crowd of people as they listened to the Prime Minister.


Picadilly Circus became so jammed that by 5pm, no traffic could pass through. At around 5:30pm, Churchill joined the Royal family on the balcony at the palace, with much cheer from the crowd. After dark, the two princesses, Elizabeth and her younger sister, Margaret mingled with the crowd and stood at the front gates of the palace, joining in the chant for their King. They were escorted by Guards officers.



People sang and danced and drank as they rejoiced and celebrated in victory, and remembered all those they had lost. For the first time since the war began, there was to be no blackout. Bonfires burned across London, on various bomb sites and there were fireworks and lights in shops and monuments and important buildings such as the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace were illuminated.

Of course, the war still raged against the Japanese and would continue until August. In the meantime, for those two days, the 8th & 9th May, people made the most of them as they celebrated and embraced loved ones and strangers in the street, carried away on a euphoric tide. Who can forget this picture, one of many which captured the mood so evocatively on that day, May 8th?



Thursday, 21 April 2016

Rationing Begins

On the 8th January 1940, rationing began in Great Britain. In the beginning, only bacon, butter, and sugar were rationed. Individuals were issued ration books which contained coupons to be presented at the time of purchase.

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As the war progressed, more food items were rationed. But the plans behind the rationing of Britain's food had been drawn up as early as late 1936. When it was first announced in November 1939 that rationing was to be introduced, the press had a field day and launched into a tirade of scathing attacks in the newspapers and magazines of the day.

Bacon and ham were rationed to 4oz per week, sugar to 12oz and butter to 4oz. Later, in March, meat was included on the list. From July 1940, cooking fats and tea were added and later in 1941, preserves and cheese were included. Sweets were rationed. Other goods such as tinned foods, biscuits and cereals were rationed using a points system. Fruit and vegetables were not rationed but were often in very short supply.

In 1939, petrol was rationed and walking, catching the bus or cycling became the main mode of getting around. Clothes would be rationed later from June 1941 and soap in February 1942. Naturally opportunists seized the moment to make money and the black market sprang up. Goods could be bought without coupons for very high prices. By March 1941, around 2,300 people had been prosecuted for black market profiteering.
Rationing would continue until the 30th June 1954.



The Ministry of Food, headed by Lord Woolton, launched a massive advertising campaign to help the british people manage on the ration. In cinemas across the nation they broadcast their campaign and also printed advertisements in the weekly press. The BBC broadcast "The Kitchen Front" over six mornings each week. They introduced Dr. Carrot and Potato Pete, as a means of encouraging children to eat their vegetables. Leaflets were produced, posters too were displayed at stations advertising recipes for meals. One of the main concerns Lord Woolton and the Ministry had, was to ensure that the poorest did not suffer. In fact, during the war years, the rationing campaign was so successful that the wealthy ate less, and the poorest quite possible ate better, according to statistics available from the period, with children having access to free orange juice, cod liver oil and extra milk. Of course everyone found it incredibly difficult and hunger became the norm, especially as shortages gripped the nation.

picture courtesy of wikimedia commons

Lord Woolton led the campaign "Dig for Victory," an initiative set up by Scottish Professor John Raeburn. This campaign encouraged the nation to transform their gardens and any spare patch of green, into a vegetable patch. The Government realised that Britain could be starved by a sea blockade and so measures were taken to maximise food production. Ordinary householders grew vegetables for the very first time, and many a lush green lawn was turned over and transformed into vegetable beds. The ladies of the WI all over the country treaded the lanes where hedges grew and enjoyed days of berry picking, collecting up as much of the wild crops as they could muster for jam making.

For the people, they were doing something very worthwhile, and they were making a vital contribution to the war effort, feeding themselves as well as the nation. It was also a fantastic way of keeping fit. Children would return home late afternoon after their school day, pick up a spade and go out into the garden and dig. It was something almost everyone could be involved in.



Next time: Dunkirk.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Life on the Home Front: The Declaration of War 1939

While Chamberlain tried to avoid war at all costs, it was not to be. On the 3rd September 1939 at 1115 hours, the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain broadcast to the nation that the deadline for the withdrawal of German troops from Poland had passed and as such, Britain was now at war with Germany. People all around the country, sat at home listening to their radios, silently pondering the consequences. Afterwards, young men all eager to 'do their bit' and to have some excitement, rushed out to join up.

War had been expected for some time, although Chamberlain and his government had taken action to avoid it. In the meantime, Andersen shelters had been distributed to some 1.5 million homes to people living in areas which the government thought would be targeted by the Luftwaffe. The first shelter was erected in a garden in Islington, London on the 25th February 1939 and thereafter the shelters were rolled out up until the declaration of war.

Within minutes of Chamberlain's broadcast, the air raid sirens wailed out across London and people ran for the shelters to await the all-clear. On this occasion, it was a false alarm. Following the announcement, the blackout began and the lights all across Great Britain were snuffed out, one by one when darkness fell. The fleet was mobilised, placing the Royal Navy immediately in the action and Winston Churchill was given the post of First Lord of the Admiralty - the same post he'd held during the Great War.
File:Hitler Will Send No Warning Art.IWMPST13861.jpg
By Unknown (artist), J Weiner Ltd, 71/5 New Oxford Street, London WC1 (printer), Her Majesty's Stationery Office (publisher/sponsor), Ministry of Home Security (publisher/sponsor) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Gas masks had been ordered and mass produced and issued to every man, woman, and child. These were kept in a small, brown cardboard box with a piece of string attached so you could carry it over your shoulder, like a bag. Later in the war, after the threat of poisonous gas bombs had alleviated, many young women used theirs as a bag, having removed their gas mask, something that was strictly forbidden, and in its place was the ever important lipstick and a compact.

This period would be known as the Phoney War because there were no immediate attacks from the Luftwaffe. It was quiet on the Home Front. But across the Channel, Hitler's forces were quite ruthlessly storming across Europe, bringing death and destruction to hundreds of thousands of people.

During this time, Britain prepared for war. Meanwhile, on the 11th September, the British Expeditionary Force of around 158000 men, with 25000 vehicles, left for France. The French were relying on their fortified Maginot Line, a stretch of concrete fortifications that ran the length of the French-German border.
File:Barrage balloons over London during World War II.jpg|Barrage balloons over London during World War II via Wikimedia Commons.
In Britain, signposts were removed in case of enemy invasion. Coastal defences were put in place and mines laid on some beaches. Barrage balloons were deployed and would force any invading Luftwaffe to fly even higher. Millions of sandbags were made up and distributed, being piled high at the entrances to public buildings, shops and hospitals and utilised at airfields. Many couples in love decided to get married before their men were called up and so this led to a wedding boom.

Millions of women were now readying for war. They were gearing themselves up for a fight right here, on the Home Front. Plans for the evacuation of children had already been drawn up in 1938. Following the declaration of war, 1.25 million children and mothers were evacuated to rural areas over a three day period. The newly formed WVS arranged transport and many were billeted with members of the Women's Institute.

Lady Denman was appointed Director of the Women's Land Army, and as the first President of the WI, she informed her members just how they were going to be involved in helping to provide more food for their nation. As much as two-thirds of Britain's food was currently imported and the government realised they would have to take measures to grow more of their own. Again, during the course of 1938, some preparations had been made. The Ministry of Agriculture had given a grant to the WI which enabled it to provide instruction to all its groups around the country on the methods of jam making, bottling and canning.
A fruit bottling demonstration at a WI meeting in Clapham, London. Image courtesy of Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis.
The Women's Institute was the largest voluntary organisation in Britain that was non-military and had more than three hundred thousand members before war declared. With national coverage, they were very well placed to offer unwavering support to their country in wartime, which they all did. Being a pacifist organisation, they helped in a non-military way by means of providing food, knitting, sewing, establishing and running markets and helping with evacuees.

In 1937, the Air Raid Warden's Service was created and by mid-1938, there were around 200000 people involved. By the time war was declared, there were 1.5 million volunteers in the ARP - Air Raid Precautions. In the early months of the war, each ARP warden had to visit every household in his locality and register the names of each person within each home, and his duties involved enforcing the blackout.

The next installment: 1940 arrives and food rationing begins. The Phoney War is over when Germany invades Norway and Denmark in April.


Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Sir Archibald McIndoe: Part One: The Early Days

Archibald Mcindoe was born in May 1900 and raised in Dunedin, New Zealand. He had two brothers and a sister. His mother, Mabel was a renowned artist and his father, John owned a printing business. As a young boy, he seemed to have a thirst for adventure, and he excelled at everything, both sports and academics. He pushed himself to go the extra mile and was undoubtedly encouraged and guided by his doting mother. When his father suddenly passed away in 1915, Archie's mother told him that he could be whatever he wanted to be in later life, but for the time being, he had to knuckle down and study at school.

Archie did just that and went on to university to study medicine. In March 1919, he attended the Medical School of Otago University, where once again, he excelled and in 1923 he graduated. In his final year there, Archie won the junior medicine prize and the senior clinical surgery medal. In 1924, he took up his post as house surgeon at Waikato Hospital in Hamilton, New Zealand. But his longing for more had never ceased and this time, he had his sights set on England. He thought it was the best place to be to gain the experience he needed if he was to become a great surgeon. While Archie looked for a way to get to England, destiny seemed to intervene.
Young Archibald McIndoe Picture courtesy of creative commons.

He met Adonia Aitken, an eighteen-year-old beauty who was a brilliant pianist and Archie was immediately smitten. At around the same time, the Mayo brothers, founders of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, paid a visit to Otago Medical School and were suitably impressed. From their visit, a fellowship was established, and it was Archie who was to be the first recipient. Before he left for America, he married Adonia, who was to remain behind in New Zealand for the time being.

Archie joined the Mayo Clinic in 1925. He studied pathology and surgery and eventually, Adonia was able to join him there. In 1927, he gained his degree in Pathology from the University of Minnesota. Archie was also awarded the William White Travelling Fellowship and decided to take a trip to England. He'd been given letters of introduction to some of the most famous surgeons, but his visits turned out to be rather disappointing as he found the surgeons to be both condescending and unwelcoming. He complained that they treated him 'like a colonial.' He returned to the Mayo Clinic and resumed his position as an assistant surgeon.

One day, Archie received an out of town call from a doctor, who claimed to have a patient, a Mr Mancini, who required abdominal surgery. It was to be done privately and so Archie agreed to see him. Accompanying the patient, were three men in suits. Archie did the surgery some days later and extracted a metal fragment from the man's stomach. Outside, in the hospital carpark, several Cadillacs waited, and one member of staff reported that one of the cars was bullet-proofed. Archie wondered why such a man had such a large entourage. A couple of days later, the Cadillacs returned, along with a black private ambulance. Mr Mancini was taken away, despite Archie's protests. One of the entourage approached Archie and thanked him for helping his 'kid brother.' He handed over an envelope which contained one thousand dollars and it was not until hours later that Archie realised he had just saved the life of Al Capone's younger brother.

It was a visitor from England that was to shake these new foundations which Archie had firmly planted in America. When Lord Moynihan visited the Mayo Clinic, he was most impressed by Archie's performance as a surgeon, and he questioned why he stayed here, telling him bluntly that England was the place for such talent. He explained how a new hospital was in the planning, and there would be a position for Archie there in London. For many reasons, Archie jumped at the chance, although Adonia was not happy. She had settled in well and had a comfortable life, but Archie refused to back down. He put their furniture up for sale, paid his debts and set sail for England in late 1931, seven years before the outbreak of the Second World War.

When they sailed into the port of Liverpool, it was a dreary, damp day. Once settled in London, Archie eventually secured a meeting with Lord Moynihan at his Harley Street practice. The news was not good. The hospital was not yet built, and Moynihan informed him that until he had the fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons in England, he would not be able to practice. It seemed that Archie may have jumped the gun.

Coming Next: Part Two: Sir Harold Gillies To The Rescue.
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