Category: World War One

100 years since Passchendaele – through the eyes of Red Cross ambulance drivers

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The Battle of Passchendaele has become synonymous with the horrors of World War One and human sacrifice.

The incessant bombardment and heavy rain turned the Belgian battlefield into a quagmire. Tanks became immobilised, while soldiers and horses drowned in the mud.

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The record-breaking teenager who was the ‘Little Wimbledon Wonder’

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Black and white photo of Lottie Dod in a cricket cap

Lottie Dod © National Portrait Gallery, London

This is a story of sporty siblings, a tennis court and a formidable Wimbledon champion. But we’re not talking about Serena and Venus, or Andy and Jamie. We’re talking about the youngest person to win a Wimbledon singles title – ever. We’re talking about British Red Cross volunteer Lottie Dod. More

The heroic women of WW1: a nurse’s diary

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Peggy Arnold in her First World War Red Cross nurse's uniformGroans and moans. Blood and pus. It must have been a shock swapping life in Surrey for a hospital tent in France. But that’s exactly what Peggy Arnold did during the First World War. Exactly 100 years after she died, we remember Peggy’s heroic work and the thousands of women like her who volunteered for the British Red Cross during the war.

Margaret Trevenen Arnold, known as Peggy, was the eldest of four daughters. Before the war she and her sister Ruth joined the Surrey branch of the British Red Cross. They attended lectures and practical classes in first aid and other useful skills.

In February 1915 Peggy went to Hilders House, a new Red Cross war hospital. Here she trained as a nurse.

Four months later, she was ready. More

Valentine volunteers: love stories from World War I

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A Red Cross VAD nurse marries a First World War soldier in 1918

From flirting soldiers to a tragic marriage, indulge in some love stories from the First World War.

Young Red Cross nurses spent hours on the wards tending to wounded soldiers. The men’s conversations, jokes and songs must have provided a welcome relief from all the cleaning, making beds and gangrenous limbs the nurses had to deal with.

Many patients took a shine to the women who cared for them. Soldiers gave photographs of themselves to the nurses they liked as a memento.

‘A nice young lady’

First World War Red Cross nurse lights a cigarette for a patient More

Christmas during the First World War: in pictures

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British Red Cross nurses had to celebrate the festive season hungry and over-worked, yet they were still determined to be cheerful. See the First World War through the eyes of the women who were actually there.

1. The busy life of a nurse

This witty cartoon triptych depicts the typical life of a Red Cross nurse (they were known as Voluntary Aid Detachments) serving abroad during the war. The sketches show how her life officially should be, how she dreams it might be, and how it actually is. Poor woman…

WW1-xmas-triptych More

The curious tale of the ‘black doctor of Paddington’

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Dr-John-Alcindor-BLOGA determined doctor who overcame bigotry and prejudice to help others during the First World War has finally won recognition. As Britain celebrates Black History Month, we trace his story.

John Alcindor was a gifted doctor, respected and trusted by his many patients.

Originally from Trinidad, John graduated with a medical degree from Edinburgh University in 1899. He then worked in London hospitals for several years before going into practice on his own.

When the First World War broke out in 1914, he naturally wanted to use his skills to help with the war effort.

But despite his qualifications and experience, he was rejected outright by the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1914 because of his ‘colonial origin’.

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True stories from WWI: The Crimson Field and flirting

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First World War soldiers on donkey rides accompanied by Red Cross nurses

Where there are male soldiers and young female nurses, there’s bound to be trouble. At least, that was the view of many when the First World War began. Red Cross volunteers were under strict instructions not to socialise with soldiers. But what could you do when young men flirted with you?

Helen Beale, a VAD in France, bemoaned the strict rules about socialising with men in her letters home: “The rule is that nobody must go out with a man, even if it’s your own brother and you are with other people, too.”

The rules, she said, simply didn’t make sense: “Although you mayn’t go and have tea at a shop with anyone it’s apparently quite permissible to go with them for a lonely walk on the sandhills and bring them back for tea. More