Formed in 1941, the men took the name of their club from the guinea pig, because of the experimental nature of the surgical procedures they underwent.Just 28 of those treated are still alive around the world today, and a few endured the chilly weather as the Duke pulled away a union flag shrouding the stone monument, to unveil the green Cumbrian slate to the autumn sunshine.The memorial, which stands in the Staffordshire arboretum, is inscribed with the words “Out of the flames came inspiration”. The Duke of Edinburgh unveils the memorial and finds the flag gets caught at the backCredit:DAVID HARTLEY The flag gets caught at the backCredit: DAVID HARTLEY The Guinea Pig Club, formed in 1941 by men being treated for burns at a hospital in Sussex, as well as meeting with surviving members of the club and their guestsCredit:Joe Giddens/PA Wire It was designed by Graeme Mitcheson, and bears the outline of a Spitfire fighter plane wing while on its reverse, set against the outline of a crashing Hurricane aircraft, is the face of Sir Archibald.Addressing his comrades during the ceremony, club trustee Dr Sandy Saunders, who helped raise thousands for the memorial, said: “A debt of honour is owed to the excellence of surgical expertise, which restored my body to health, and the cheerful spirit of valiant men who taught me to endure my treatment.”He added that, in what is the 75th year of the club, it was only right to remember the “band of seriously injured men” who were able to support each other in some of the darkest moments of their lives. Among the men who benefited from the pioneering work was former racing driver Peter Procter from Appletreewick near Skipton, in Yorkshire, who was badly burned in a car crash at Goodwood in 1966.He was adopted by the club’s members when they found out he was being treated on the burns ward at East Grinstead.His wife, Shirley, also at the unveiling, told how while her husband was in hospital with 65% burns she phoned the club’s warrant officer, “Tubby” Taylor, and spoke of how the Guinea Pigs then swung into action.Mrs Procter said: “I told him, ‘you don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but I read your book about the Guinea Pigs’. The Duke of Edinburgh at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire where he dedicated a memorial to the Guinea Pig ClubCredit:Joe Giddens/PA Wire The Duke of Edinburgh encountered a troublesome Union Flag that refused to budge today as he unveiled a memorial in honour of an inspirational band of badly burned Second World War airmen.A handful of the surviving members of the once 649-strong Guinea Pig Club, now in their eighties and nineties, watched as their president, the Duke of Edinburgh, unveiled the stone at the National Memorial Arboretum on Wednesday.All of the club’s members, many of whom fought in the Battle of Britain against the Luftwaffe, received treatment for disfiguring burns at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead from the visionary surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe. “He said ‘I know all about Peter Procter, I’ve read all the press reports’.”He said ‘what do you need?’ and I said ‘back-up’.”And that was it, he said ‘you’ve got it’ and they would then come and visit Peter.”Mr Procter, 86, who only gave up driving racing cars five years ago, said: “I was nine when the war broke out.”We lived near York, which was served by Bomber Command, so we would see the Lancasters and the Wellingtons (bombers) coming in all the time.”So those men were always my heroes.”Then, when they came to see me in hospital after the crash, they were my heroes again.”They were heroes twice over to me. You don’t often get that.”Asked if he believed he would be here today without the surgeons and the Guinea Pig Club, he said: “I don’t think for a second – had I gone anywhere else other than East Grinstead – I’d have survived.”I think mentally, the support I got there, the attitude – I felt I was family, straight away.”It was a special environment.”He said the monument’s unveiling was a “wonderful” occasion, “but not before time”.Mr Procter, who has five children, said: “This should have been here from day one.”What a contribution they made.”The survivors of the Guinea Pig Club suffered tremendous injuries, and people with those sorts of injuries weren’t treated then as they are now.”I think they deserve a very special place like this.”The Duke has been president of the club since 1960, following the death of Sir Archibald. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.