Dan Snow finds out family history facts in our First World War records

Dan Snow First World War records

Broadcaster and historian Dan Snow knew very little about his great-grandmother’s role in the First World War – until he saw her records at the British Red Cross. We hold information on all our historical volunteers, from what they did to where they worked – and it’s now online for the very first time.

“My great-grandmother died 20 years ago, and being able to see her index card is as close as I’ve managed to get to her since then,” says Dan Snow, as he stands in our museum archive.

“She was clearly a young woman living an unimaginably difficult life, so different to the lady who I knew in her 90s.” More

Secret history: unusual volunteering in the First World War

Fundraising activities of Gwent Branch of Red Cross

We’ve just launched a digital archive, presenting historical records from the First World War online for the first time. It shows that our volunteers were a motley bunch, of every class and age – and they weren’t all nurses, either.

In fact, the new archive reveals that some volunteers boosted the war effort in surprising ways.  More

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