True stories from WWI: The Crimson Field and our pyjamas

Red Cross nurses and patients in BristolThe pyjamas in The Crimson Field may not be the stars of the show but they are pretty special – they follow an original First World War Red Cross sewing pattern.

Pyjama pattern used by The Crimson Field

Pyjama pattern used by The Crimson Field

Ros Little, the costume designer for the BBC production, used an original pattern from our archives. So the patients in the camp hospital are all wearing authentic Red Cross pyjamas.

In 1915 these would have been made by our volunteers in London at the Central Work Rooms. The buildings were lent to the Red Cross so they had a rather exclusive address: the Royal Academy.

Dog-hair wool

Throughout the war over 1,200 women worked there, knitting, stitching and sewing items for hospital patients and workers. Between 1914 and 1918 these women produced 705,500 bandages and 75,530 garments ranging from pyjamas, dressing gowns, kitbags and pants to hot-water-bottle covers, surgeon’s gowns , socks and pillow cases.

They worked with flannel, sheep’s wool and even some dog’s wool made from long-haired breeds such as Pekinese and Pomerainians. More

Haiti earthquake: Red Cross reconstruction brings new beginning

Construction work

©BritishRedCross

Tucked away in a corner of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, the community of Delmas 19 is still recovering from the effects of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

The British Red Cross has been working in the neighbourhood to help rebuild lives ever since the devastating quake struck. Our work has gone through many phases and many challenges and it will soon be coming to an end. 

Over the coming months, I’m going to chart our progress through the final stage of our recovery programme – housing reconstruction. 

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True stories from WWI: The Crimson Field and hospital food

Hermione Norris, Oona Chaplin, Suranne Jones and other cast members on the set of BBC's The Crimson FieldTo accompany the BBC series The Crimson Field, we’re sharing some of the best First World War stories, letters and diaries from our archives. This week: sheep-brain soup, ‘egg flip’ and what happens when your cook can’t cook…

It reads like an extract from a TV script: “Clickety—click. Clickety—click. Clickety—click. In the circle of light a VAD [Red Cross volunteer] is frothing the white of an egg. Behind, in the ward, men badly gassed are panting away their lives. Over all the moon shines.”

It was actually written in 1918 by staff from a hospital in Etaples, France.

Sarah Phelps, the writer of The Crimson Field, said that this “tiny little description… went like a knife into my heart”. She loved it so much that she included the scene in episode two. More

UK floods inspire family challenge

Picture of Louise and Jasmine together

Louise and Jasmine will be doing the London Red Shoe Walk together – ©BritishRedCross

There is no finer way to celebrate your birthday than taking part in a Red Shoe Walk with your daughter.

That’s exactly what Louise Mullenger will be doing come May. The 34-year-old will be hitting the streets of London with her 12-year-old daughter Jasmine, who came up with the idea of fundraising for the British Red Cross after seeing the charity’s work during the recent UK floods. More

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