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

Ready to go back home?

Hospital-bed-older-ladyOur hospitals provide vital care to elderly and vulnerable patients – but many are then discharged too early and soon start to struggle.

The ongoing care crisis in this country broadened its reach this week, when the Government’s own chief adviser on carers found herself struggling under its impact.

Dame Philippa Russell felt moved to contact a national newspaper after witnessing the distressing experience of a close male relative who had suffered a stroke. More

Syria: Red Crescent volunteers share dreams and memories after three years of conflict

As the conflict in Syria enters its fourth year, Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) volunteers have described lessons learned and their hopes for the future.

Since the conflict began SARC volunteers have faced violence and threats as they deliver vital humanitarian aid.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has made an unprecedented call for all parties to the conflict in Syria to guarantee the safety of aid workers and ensure their unimpeded, immediate access to people in need across the country.

Find out more about the joint call.

A woman with glasses looks at the camera

© Ibrahim Malla/IFRC


The big truck with a global reach

UNIMOG-BLOGWhat’s the difference between our response to a major disaster overseas and a crisis right here at home in the UK? Sometimes, very little.

The British Red Cross’ moving new TV advert shows how a crisis can happen anywhere, to anyone.

Understandably, the advert paints a picture of large-scale operations overseas and more intimate levels of help for individuals in the UK. Here in this country, we’re fortunately not too troubled by earthquakes and droughts. More

Generous shoppers help donate 4.3 million meals for people in need this Christmas

Neighbourhood food collectionThank you to everyone who helped to donate a record 4.3 million meals for people in need this Christmas.

Tesco shoppers donated food to the Neighbourhood Food Collection, which took place across the UK earlier this month and was helped by Red Cross volunteers.

The 4.3 million meals include a top-up of 30 per cent by Tesco – equating to 32,000 trolley-loads of food. More

How the Red Cross eases burden on hospitals

Support-at-home-lady-BLOGAs rising admissions among the elderly push many hospitals to breaking point, our volunteers are providing a lifeline for patients returning to empty homes.

Put yourself in Elizabeth’s* shoes.

You are an elderly pensioner. You were mugged recently and broke your shoulder. You’re just now being discharged from hospital. You still feel a bit shaky, if you’re honest. You’re going back to an empty house. You have no family living nearby. There’s no fresh milk in the fridge. You’re a bit nervous about the journey home.

In such a case, it’s likely you’d also be pleased to see Francesca Dawkes.


Volunteer: go to cool events

Sam-ClewesSince becoming a first aid volunteer, 17-year-old Sam Clewes has hobnobbed with royalty at Buckingham Palace and rocked out at the Wireless Festival. Here’s his story:

Become a first aider with the British Red Cross, they said. You’ll get to see interesting things. They weren’t lying.

I live in rural West Midlands, so when the Red Cross asked if I’d like to spend a summer weekend at both the Queen’s Coronation Festival and the Wireless Festival, you can probably guess what my answer was.