Joy Smith. RIP

Discussion in 'Memorials & Cemeteries' started by CXX, Aug 25, 2009.

  1. CXX

    CXX New Member

    Joy Smith: theatre sister | Times Online Obituary

    Joy Smith was a theatre sister at the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, where the New Zealander Sir Archibald McIndoe and the Canadian Ross Tilley performed miracles of plastic surgery on badly burnt airmen during the Second World War, and she subsequently married one of the burns unit’s Guinea Pigs.

    He was Flight-Lieutenant Tommy Smith, a Mosquito intruder pilot of 23 Squadron, who had been shot down by flak early in 1945 while attacking enemy fighters as they took off from their airfield near Berlin.

    Smith had destroyed two Me109s as they were taking off and was pursuing another at low level when at 200ft the guns of a flak tower opened up on him setting his aircraft on fire. He managed to bring the Mosquito in to a forced landing in a snow-covered field.

    Terribly burnt, blinded in one eye, partially blinded in the other and suffering serious facial disfigurement as well as other injuries, he had been made a prisoner of war, but was freed by the advancing Americans and repatriated in March 1945.

    Over the following years as he endured numerous operations to rebuild his face, restore his sight and repair other damage, Joy skilfully and devotedly nursed him, both in hospital and, after they were married, at home.

    Joy Smith was born Joyce-Mary Jones (to be known universally as Joy) in Port Elizabeth in 1922, to a South African father Alan, and a Yorkshire mother, Elsie, who had emigrated to South Africa three years earlier with her two sisters. Two years later a brother was born into the family. In 1926 her father died of a heart attack, obliging her mother to return to Yorkshire to the family farm. Joy was sent to a convent school near Leeds, and her younger brother, as soon as he was able, was put to work on the farm.

    On leaving school she became a nursing auxiliary at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton. After qualifying as an SRN she was sent to the Middlesex Hospital to study midwifery. But a fellow nurse told her of the ground-breaking work with burnt airmen that was being done at the Queen Victoria Hospital. Wanting to be at the cutting edge of her profession, she joined the Canadian wing of the hospital as a ward sister.

    There she was to become known and admired by many of the Guinea Pigs. When their regular theatre staff were not available she would assist McIndoe and Tilley. McIndoe had a high regard for her abilities.

    While the nurses were encouraged to cheer up the Guinea Pigs, relationships were frowned on. Consequently Joy and her future husband would have to court in some of the pubs less frequented by the nursing and patient community.

    They married in 1947 and she gave up her nursing career to raise a family. Her nursing skills were still required, however, since her husband was not yet a third of the way through the 50 skin graft operations he was to receive before 1950. She knitted special mittens for his damaged hand and treated his skin grafts while he was convalescing at home during the winter. For many years she and her husband would receive fellow Guinea Pigs at their home, with their young family.

    As her family grew Joy organised and looked after the family and the home, while her husband spent many years working in foreign countries, as a management consultant with Urwick, Orr, for whom he travelled the world supervising engineering projects.

    In later years she suffered a stroke and he spent his remaining days, almost blind, looking after “his” nurse until his death in 2006.

    She is survived by two daughters and three sons.

    Joy Smith, nurse, was born on October 14, 1922. She died on July 13 2009, aged 86
  2. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    The Guinea Pigs are renowned for their resilience and joy for life. Truly inspirational. Equally inspirational are the medical staff who went above and beyond the normal high level of care.

    What a skilled and admirable lady. RIP.

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