In 1939, McIndoe, one of only three experienced plastic surgeons in Britain, became consultant in plastic surgery to the Royal Air Force and established a treatment center at Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, to handle facial injuries and burns inflicted in air raids. Under McIndoe's forceful and even domineering leadership, this facility became a model for burn treatment for the entire country. McIndoe treated several hundred badly burned fliers, battling with the government to win them better pay, conditions, and rehabilitation facilities, and he succeeded in abolishing the rule that after 90 days, such patients would be invalided from the military. He also paid great attention to the psychological well-being of his patients, who formed a club that continued to meet after the war. Skillful publicity enhanced the reputations of both McIndoe and his center, which improved his success in confrontations with civil servants, as did his refusal to compromise his independence and subject himself to military authority by entering the armed services.
After the war, McIndoe served on the council of the Royal College of Surgeons, developed the training of plastic surgeons, and was the third president of the British Association of Plastic Surgeons, which he helped found. He also traveled and wrote extensively in his field. McIndoe died in London on 12 April 1960. In a rare tribute to a civilian, his ashes were buried in the Royal Air Force church, Saint Clement Danes, on the Strand, London.
McLeave, Hugh. McIndoe: Plastic Surgeon. London: Muller, 1961.; Mosley, Leonard. Faces from the Fire: The Biography of Sir Archibald McIndoe. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1962.; Williams, Peter. McIndoe's Army: The Injured Airmen Who Faced the World. London: Pelham, 1979.