There is a very interesting new exhibition at the Science Museum on treating the wounded in wartime. This covers far more than the Second World War but there is a section on treating the terrible burns that some aircrew suffered.
By the Second World War, mobile maxillofacial units saved the lives of many soldiers with early surgery. But a new challenge arose with the growth of aerial combat, as pilots trapped in cockpits suffered terrible burns from aviation fuel.
The surgeon Archibald McIndoe treated 4,000 men with burns from aviation fuel. Each patient had an average of 12 operations. The surgery rebuilt hands and faces, and many of the men went back to fly again.
Of course, on the heavy bombers all the crew were at risk of serious burns if their aircraft crashed. One of the men whom McIndoe treated was Ernest Deverill’s loyal gunner who had served with him in a previous tour. James Benbow, who had severely burned hands, was the only survivor of the Deverill crash on Black Thursday.