Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, the British Red Cross formed the Joint War Committee with the Order of St John. They pooled their fundraising activities and resources and worked together under the protective emblem of the Red Cross. The Joint War Committee organised volunteers alongside technical and professional staff to assist the naval and military medical services in treating sick and wounded soldiers and sailors. It also supplied the machinery and mechanisms to provide services in the United Kingdom and in the conflict areas of Europe, the Middle East, Russia and East Africa.
Members of the British Red Cross were organised into Voluntary Aid Detachments. All members were required to train in first aid but others also undertook courses in nursing, cookery, hygiene and sanitation. In total, over 90,000 men and women volunteered with the Red Cross during the conflict, carrying out a wide range of valuable roles – nurse, ambulance driver, fundraiser, sphagnum moss collector, cleaner, orderly and dance teacher, to name but a few. Records for the volunteers can be searched online at vad.redcross.org.uk/en.
Images and text courtesy of the British Red Cross Museum and Archives.