Remembering the Work of Gillies in World War II

22nd October 2018


A bust of Sir Harold Gillies was unveiled on 21st September 2018 by Dr Andrew Bamji, BAPRAS Gillies Archivist, at the opening of the new Peace Garden in the War Memorial Park, Basingstoke.

The Association was also represented by Brian Morgan, Roger Green and Ruth Neave. Also present were the Mayor, Cllr Seán Keating and the Bishop of Basingstoke, the Right Reverend Canon David Williams.

 Harold Gillies news story

Pictured are Andrew Bamji, (BAPRAS Gillies Archivist), Julia Beer (Sculptor) and Stephen Evans (Rooksdown Club)

Photo courtesy of Stewart Turkington and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council

Sir Harold, in his position as Adviser to the War Department, established four units to receive casualties during WW2. Mowlem, Kilner and McIndoe went respectively to St Albans, Roehampton and East Grinstead whilst Gillies established a base for himself at Rooksdown House, the private wing in the grounds of the psychiatric unit at Park Prewett Hospital in Basingstoke. Patients were predominantly from the Army and civilian casualties.

The Rooksdown Club was formed by previous patients at the end of the war, some having experienced negative reactions to their disfigurement by members of the public.  Their aims were to maintain contact with each other, to provide help with welfare matters and to educate the public. Despite diminishing in numbers, the club continues actively today and was instrumental in arranging and the funding for the creation of the bust, in conjunction with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council. Julia Beer was the sculptor commissioned to create the bust, whose father had been a patient of Sir Harold in 1947.

Roger Green, Hon Archivist


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