Many local men and youths went away to war and the local Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital set up at Prospect Villas in Marston Green served to provide all too necessary care for the wounded who returned home. Sadly 13 were never to return from this conflict.
The origins of the Red Cross Movement* were mooted in 1859 by a young Swiss businessman, Henry Dunant, who was appalled at the suffering of the wounded and dying on both sides during the Battle of Solferino in Italy.
Having experienced the atrocities he proposed the following idea that eventually led to the formation of the Red Cross: “Would it not be possible to form relief societies for training volunteers to care for the wounded in wartime…based on some international principle”.
By August 1864 a delegation from 12 countries including Great Britain signed the Convention of Geneva “for the amelioration of the condition of the wounded in armies in the field”.
In 1898, in Britain, a Central Red Cross Committee was formed under the guidance of the War Office as an attempt to ensure closer co-operation with the Army Medical Services and prevent any overlapping in duties. The primary objective was “to furnish aid to the sick and wounded in war” and a year later it began establishing Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) in each county.
With the outbreak of hostilities throughout Europe in 1914 it soon became apparent that the VADs would be called into service to attend to the injured from the war. The British Red Cross and the Order of St John joined together to provide help to the aged, sick and injured throughout Europe and in Britain.
It did not take very long for a recruitment campaign to begin and only one recruitment poster was issued during World War I.
The response was so great another poster was never necessary.
Owners of large houses and stately homes threw them open for the reception and care of convalescents. Marston Green had its own VAD Hospital.
The many auxiliary hospitals throughout the country were opened at very short notice from October 1914 to receive wounded soldiers. Although women were more usually associated with the term ‘VAD’, there were men’s detachments, which did vital work, particularly helping to transport patients from railway stations to the hospitals and working as hospital orderlies. In some places the men also helped the local constabulary and with public order.
Marston Green’s VAD Hospital was set up in Prospect Villas in Elmdon Road, pictured at the top of this page on a postcard from Christmas 1915. The postcard is unused but has written on the reverse: “V.A.D. Hospital, Marston Green, 54 Warwick, Xmas 1915.”
Cissie Hall, a local farmer’s daughter was at the age of 16/17 to become part of the VAD nursing organisation in Marston Green.
Cissie Hall is pictured below (1st nurse on the left) in this group photograph with the soldiers at the VAD Hospital. The nurses were members of the British Red Cross and the Order of St John.
*Information taken from The Red Cross Story published by Dorling Kindersley 1995.
© Margaret Francis, 2022.
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