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Frank Gourlay

Admitted to:

Army Hospital, Nicosia, Cyprus. No.9 General Hospital, Cairo. Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield. RAF Hosptial Rauceby.

Date of Injury:

Dec 1943

D.O.B/Age when admitted:


Cause of Incident:

Enemy Action. Shot down in a Beaufighter over the Mediterranean.

Transferred to QVH:



3rd degree burns to face, destruction of hands.

No. of Operations at East Grinstead:



This is to certify that the patient mentioned below and whose description is stated hereon is the authorised holder of this Identity card.


J. Frank



Service No:

RAF 536215





Patient Unit:

252 Sqn



Patient Rank:



October 1992

Age at Death:


Dr Rank:

Dr Unit:


Gourlay joined the RAF in 1936 and trained as a fitter. He was posted to RAF College Cranwell to maintain the training aircraft, and flew in many test flights as a passenger. Following that, he was posted to Unsworth, then Aberdeen as a technical-fitting instructor and part-time air gunner. It was in Aberdeen that Gourlay had his first accident - his Avro Anson collided with a Spitfire on take-off.
Gourlay's postings took him to Honington, Suffolk; Bircham Newton, Norfolk; Northern Ireland; and Iceland, before going to the Western Desert, Malta, and Cyprus. There he joined 252 Sqn, flying Beaufighters.
In December 1943, 252 Sqn was going back to Egypt to re-equip. Gourlay flew with the advanced party and encountered enemy forces over the Mediterranean. They returned to Cyprus, where they hit a gun-site during the emergency landing and crashed.
Gourlay escaped the plane quickly before going back for the pilot and navigator, who he pulled free of the wreckage. He then went back for the steel box containing the squadron's aircraft inspection documents. As he went to jump of the wing, the plane exploded and he was caught in the flames.
Gourlay's injuries were badly infected and he spent time in hospital in Nicosia and Cairo before being transferred back to the UK in May 1944. McIndoe brought him to QVH from Rauceby Hospital.


Further Reading:

McIndoe's Army' By Edward Bishop.


'How I Became a Guinea Pig', Frank Gourlay, The Guinea Pig, July 1992, pp. 17-9.
'Frank Gourlay', The Guinea Pig, New Year 1993, p. 5.

East Grinstead Museum Collection:
EGRTM 2751.63 - Set of five images of members of the Guinea Pig Club, including Gourlay