- Polish vet Jan Stangryciuk-Black, 101, is final RAF Guinea Pig Club member to die
The last surviving member of the RAF‘s ‘Guinea Pig Club’ has died aged 101.
The brave men, who numbered 649 by the end of the war, jokingly referred to themselves as the Guinea Pig Club due to the uncertain outcomes they faced during treatment.
Poland‘s ambassador to the UK, Piotr Wilczek, posted online: ‘Heartbroken to learn of the passing of Jan Stangryciuk-Black… A rear gunner in the 300 Bomber Squadron, he demonstrated immense courage and resilience throughout his life.’
Valiant: Jan Stangryciuk-Black, the last surviving member of the RAF’s ‘Guinea Pig Club’ has died aged 101
Jan Stangryciuk-Black (appearing on Good Morning Britain after he was robbed), a Polish veteran, was one of the airmen who underwent pioneering plastic surgery after suffering burn injuries in the Second World War
East Grinstead Museum, in West Sussex, which has an archive of club members, said he died on Sunday.
The town was home to a hospital where Lt Stangryciuk-Black and other injured heroes underwent operations led by medic Sir Archibald McIndoe.
The RAF Benevolent Fund said the men were key in ‘challenging the perception that disabilities were life-limiting’.
Bob Marchant, secretary of the Guinea Pig Club, said Lt Stangryciuk-Black’s death marked ‘the end of an era’.
The airman left Argentina where his family had emigrated after deciding to volunteer for the RAF but was injured during a training accident in 1942.
After surgery, he was able to take part in 18 combat missions. Last year, burglars stole his medals and savings but donors raised £22,000 for him and his wife Jadwiga.