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Harold Stannus

Admitted to:

RAF Thorney Island SSQ. St.Richards Hospital, Chichester (06/07/44).

Date of Injury:

06/07/1944

D.O.B/Age when admitted:

26/05/1922 (22)

Cause of Incident:

Enemy Action. Crashed landed in a Stirling on return from op after losing engines to enemy flak over France.

Transferred to QVH:

07/07/1944

Injuries:

Third degree burns to face, left arm, hands and legs.

No. of Operations at East Grinstead:

7



IDENTITY CARD

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


Forename:

Harold

Surname:

Stannus

Service No:

421411

Nationality:

Australian. Born in Armadale, Melbourne.


Awards/Honours:

---

Patient Unit:

149 Sqn

Profession:

Navigator (B)

Patient Rank:

Fg Off

Death:

31/01/2017

Age at Death:

94

Dr Rank:

Dr Unit:

Notes:

Stannus joined the Australian Militia Reserve in 1938, at 16. Four years later, he enlisted in the RAAF and was trained as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme in Canada and then East Anglia. In 1943 he completed his training and was assigned to RAF 149 Sqn at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk.

Stannus, along with fellow Guinea Pigs William Holmes and Thomas C. F. Smith, was flying a Special Op. to drop supplies near the French/Swiss border on the night of 5 July 1944. There was no reception committee and as they climbed to fly back, they crossed an airfield and were shot at - it took out the port engines, damaged the petrol tanks and set fire to the port wing root, though Smith was able to extinguish that. They managed to make it back to Britain and had to crash land on Thorney Island, Kent. Holmes made a landing on the plane's belly, before sparks caused a fire. Smith pushed Holmes out of the pilot's escape hatch, resulting in severe burns due to the delay in getting himself out.

Glossary:

(B) - Bomber
SSQ - Station Sick Quarters

Further Reading:

As For the Canadians' By Rita Donovan
Obituary 17.11.2017 by Susanne Gilmore. East Grinstead Museum Archives.

References:

'How I Became a Guinea Pig - The Three Little Pigs', Bill Holmes, The Guinea Pig, July 1985, pp. 10-1.
'Harold Stannus, last member of Guinea Pig Club for WWII air crew burns victims', Sydney Morning Herald, 16 November 2017, https://www.smh.com.au/national/harold-stannus-last-member-of-guinea-pig-club-for-wwii-air-crew-burns-victims-20171115-gzlwco.html.