Art from the past: ‘diary paintings’ from a First World War volunteer

Ambulance depot 2 Procter

Every month, we dust off a piece of art from the British Red Cross collection to give it the attention it deserves. This time, it’s some paintings by Ernest Procter – who used his extraordinary talent to capture life as a First World War volunteer.

During the war, Procter documented so many scenes from his time on the frontline that he became known as his unit’s ‘official artist’. More

Wheelchairs of World War One: the untold story

Wheelchair-WW1-amputee-BLOGYears before the NHS even existed, the British Red Cross was providing mobility aids and prosthetic limbs to injured soldiers. As our service celebrates its 100th anniversary, a new documentary explores the harrowing stories of the first people we helped.

If you’re free this Sunday evening, here’s an idea.

Grab a drink, park yourself on the sofa and check out Secret History: World War One’s Forgotten Heroes on Channel 4 (7-8pm).

This fascinating programme looks at the heart-rending experiences of almost two million British soldiers who suffered life-changing injuries and disabilities during the First World War. More

Cardiac arrest runner gets lucky escape


Sean Deans with first aid volunteers David Hart and Steven Gay. PIC: Alasdair MacLeod

When a young athlete collapsed at the end of a half-marathon, our cool-headed volunteers saved his life.

It was only as he crossed the finish line that Sean Deans realised all might not be well.

The 29-year-old, who had just completed the Great Scottish Run, recalled: “I just felt as if I needed to catch my breath. Next thing I know, I woke up in an ambulance.”

It turns out the army reservist had suffered cardiac arrest. As he lay there on the ground in Glasgow, he actually ceased breathing and his heart stopped. There seemed little hope. More

‘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