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Personal Strength

Heroes Remember

Interviewer: What gave you the strength, personal strength to be able to deal with these, these wounded men, disfigured men? I think I remember that God loves us all, if we let him and that he loved them no matter how bad they were and that I remember because I know when I went once I didn't think I was going to be able to face it, but as I say they were such rascals you know. You sort of had to fight back. You know the things they'd do or tease you or call you, but the nurses were good at that hospital too and I think some of them married some of the boys. But we had them all over, French sailors, mmm hmm sailors!! French sailors there, Australians, Americans. They were all, all had different needs. I remember feeding Mike Safranski, he was American, I don't know what rank he was, captain. All I saw of him for ages was white, white bandages all around his face. I could see where his eyes were and his mouth was and I remember talking to him, “Would you like me to feed you something?”, “Yes.” I don't know whether it was marshmallows I pushed into his mouth, you know. I could see where his eyes were and I said, “I can't see your eyes”. But that was scary you know that you couldn't see a face. I saw a picture of him afterwards and he's a good looking fellow. It's not an ordinary hospital so you never knew what you were going to see!

Mrs. Jackson explains the personal strength she received in dealing with these burned victims and how their strength helped her carry on.

Beatrice Jackson

Mrs. Beatrice Jackson was born in Ontario, Canada July 1924. As a child her family moved to England where she was raised until the War broke out. While living in England, Beatrice decided to join the Royal Canadian Air Force, Women’s Division. She took on an occupation of a Posting Clerk in the Administration Division of the Royal Canadian Air Force. The highlight of her wartime service was visiting the East Grinstead hospital in England on her days off and caring for the burned victims. Her most precious memory of war is the friendships she made and the care she provided to the burn victims who would later be known as “The Guinea Pigs” Their remarkable story is told by, Rita Donovan, in her book, “ As for the Canadians: The Remarkable Story of the RCAF's"Guinea Pigs" of World War II” Of which the following excerpt has been taken: They were the fried airmen, the mashed airmen of the war. Canadians took to the skies young, fit and whole. Some of them burned and were mangled. In another war they would have been hushed up, shut away in institutions or homes. But they were about to encounter the best piece of luck they had seen in a while – the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, Sussex. They were about to become members of the Guinea Pig Club. New Zealander Archibald McIndoe and Canadian Ross Tilley were the surgeons who put the airmen s bodies back together, performing experimental plastic surgery. But they did more: they took the battered boys and helped rebuild their spirits, gave them back their confidence, and returned them to society. They did it with a crack medical team, barrels of beer and theatre tickets in London, with a town that adopted the damaged airmen as their own. They did it without a single suicide. This is the story of the Canadian Wing of the most unusual club in the world. ... Excerpt from the book As for the Canadians: The Remarkable Story of the RCAF s Guinea Pigs of World War II, by Rita Donovan. (Ottawa: BuschekBooks, 2000)To this day, Mrs. Jackson holds the experience of caring for these airmen her most precious memory and has maintained longstanding friendships with the many woman she served with during that time. Mrs. Jackson returned to Canada, after the war where she married and raised a family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Beatrice Jackson
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force Women's Division

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