‘I saved my friend’s life hours after learning first aid’


Copyright: Daily Record

Copyright: Daily Record

When his friend was stabbed, teenager Jay Duff still had a first aid trainer’s words echoing in his ears – and knew exactly what to do.

Like most people, Jay enjoyed his first aid session.

But once the training was done he just got on with his day, not really considering that he’d ever have to put into practice what he’d just learned.

Which just goes to show, you can never tell. More

Conscientious objectors and the Red Cross in the First World War

Watercolour showing First World War Red Cross ambulance depot at Etaples

On International Conscientious Objectors’ Day we remember our work with conscientious objectors 100 years ago, during the First World War.

In 1914 a group of young Quakers set up a humanitarian first aid project in France called the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU). Most of its 1,200 members were pacifists and they were all civilians. The FAU provided conscientious objectors with a means to support the wounded – but not the war. More

True stories from WWI: The Crimson Field and flirting

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

True stories from WWI: The Crimson Field and playing by the rules

Three Red Cross nurses from the First World WarThere was no room for rebels in the field hospital at Etaples, France in 1915. The daily routine of Red Cross volunteer nurses was strictly controlled by rules and regulations. But in their own huts, there was no one to stop them giggling, munching cake or throwing a pyjama party…

During the First World War, Helen Beale volunteered as a nurse in Etaples. Her letters paint a vivid picture of life at No. 26 General Hospital – the hospital that inspired The Crimson Field. More

Typhoon volunteers tell their stories

Philippines Red Cross volunteers are using an innovative mobile phone app to help thousands of people recover from Typhoon Haiyan, by collecting vital data about the impact of the disaster.

We asked the volunteers to describe their experiences, inspiration and hopes for the future.

What conditions are the people affected by the typhoon living in?

“Sad and heartbreaking conditions. Some of the stories I hear really get to me, especially when I interview elderly people. They act like nothing’s happened but their situation is really sad. It’s really hard to look at the makeshift houses as they’re so cramped. The walls are tin, the roof is collapsed.”
Daniel Uytiepo Amane, 19, from Ilo Ilo City

“They don’t have easy access to medicines, hospitals. They are frequently affected by drought and other seasonal shocks. The weather is unpredictable, which also affects them”
Mark Uytiepo Amane, 23, Ilo Ilo City

Helen Villaflor

Helen Villaflor


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

True stories from WWI: The Crimson Field

Suranne Jones, Hermione Norris and Oona Chaplin from The Crimson FieldAre you watching the BBC’s new Sunday-night drama The Crimson Field? It follows three Red Cross nurses learning to cope with life at a field hospital during World War One. We’ll be following the series with diaries, letters and photos from real Red Cross nurses. This week we’re looking at rats, rules and hairy legs…

When Red Cross volunteers Flora, Rosalie and Kitty report for duty at the beginning of the series, it’s clear that not everyone is happy to see them.

Volunteers versus nurses
When it was announced in 1915 that volunteers would help at military hospitals, the Matron-in-Chief of the military nursing service was horrified. She believed that volunteers would cause havoc in her wards. More