World War One

The heroic women of WW1: a nurse’s diary

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

Blood and traffic jams: remembering brave ambulance crews at the Battle of Verdun

A First World War British Red Cross ambulance

Blood, gunfire and traffic jams: driving ambulances during World War One took some guts. Yet plenty of brave British Red Cross volunteers were ready to risk their lives helping injured soldiers from all sides.

The Red Cross reported that at the Battle of Verdun “from February 20 to March 6 the work was carried out under conditions of great stress.

“The traffic was so heavy that evacuations could only be proceeded with very slowly.

“It sometimes took two hours to go a distance of one kilometre. A heavy fall of snow added to the confusion.” More

Valentine volunteers: love stories from World War I

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

Agatha Christie: the mysterious case of the refugees and the volunteer who loved poison

Black and white photo of Agatha ChristieThis week marks the 125th anniversary of the queen of crime fiction: Dame Agatha Christie. But did you know her career and her encyclopaedic knowledge of poisons are both rooted in her time as a British Red Cross volunteer?

Born in Torquay, Devon, Agatha had a privileged Victorian upbringing. So joining the Red Cross as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) at the outbreak of the First World War was something of a shock to the system. More

Museum of the year finalist brings Red Cross history to life

Auxiliary hospital ward

For a limited time only, you can step back in time and experience what life in a Red Cross hospital would have been like during the First World War.

In 1917, the Georgian house at Dunham Massey was transformed into a fully functioning military hospital. The grand furniture and heirlooms were swapped for hospital beds and medical equipment and the family home became Stamford Military Hospital.

Stamford Military Hospital was, like thousands of auxiliary hospitals across the country, a temporary facility for wounded servicemen.

Here, British Red Cross volunteers provided vital care for hundreds of ill and injured soldiers seeking sanctuary after the horrors of the trenches.

More

How a Nottinghamshire stately home became a First World War hospital

Red Cross nurses and patients at Burgage Manor Red Cross auxiliary hospitalHow would you feel about a hospital stay if your ward was in a luxurious stately home? During the First World War the British Red Cross transformed private manors, estates, town halls and even schools into hospitals and convalescent homes for wounded servicemen. Here we explore Burgage Manor in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, to see what life was like for the staff, patients and local residents.

When the war broke out, the Red Cross was inundated with 5,000 offers of buildings they could use to treat the wounded.

William Hicking, chairman of the Nottingham & Notts banking company, offered the empty Burgage Manor to the British Red Cross in 1914. The large house had already made history as home to the poet Lord Byron between 1803-08. More