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VADs/Red Cross uniforms WW1


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#1 sheel1955

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 09:53 PM

I have a photo showing three women in my family c 1914. I've been trying to research whether they were VADs or Red Cross members.

Thanks.

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  • WW1nurses.jpg


#2 khaki

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 01:14 AM

Hello sheel1955, I hope you will get some authorative answers, I too have some WW1 nursing photo's but I don't know a st John nurse uniform from a red cross or a VAD for that matter, I would like to be able to tell the difference in rank from say nurse to matron. I am sure that a member collector has either mannequins or portraits that could explain the difference, I will continue to watch your post with interest.
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#3 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 02:26 AM

sheel1955,
Welcome to the Forum.
Your photograph is of a Voluntary Aid Detachment ( VADs ) which were part of the British Red Cross. VADs were formed by the British Red Cross in 1909 to provide nursing and medical assistance in wartime. They were organized in detachments of 23, and the detachments were officially recognized by the War Office. The first listings appear in 1910, when 137 detachments were listed. In the following years VADs were also raised by St. John Ambulance Brigade.
VADs worked as nursing assistants, ambulance drivers, cooks, and worked in Field Hospitals, Base Hospitals, Convalescent Homes, and Military Hospitals. By the Summer of 1914, there were 2,500 Voluntary Aid Detachments in Britain. Of the 74,000 VADs, 2/3rds were women and girls. Young men and boys were also able to serve as VADs.

Attached is a photograph of 2 VAD nurses, wearing very similar uniforms to those in your photograph, and also a young boy in his VAD uniform.

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  • vad.jpg
  • vad boy.jpg


#4 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 02:59 AM

Hello sheel1955, I hope you will get some authorative answers, I too have some WW1 nursing photo's but I don't know a st John nurse uniform from a red cross or a VAD for that matter, I would like to be able to tell the difference in rank from say nurse to matron. I am sure that a member collector has either mannequins or portraits that could explain the difference, I will continue to watch your post with interest.
regards
khaki


Khaki,
The VADs, which were part of the British Red Cross, are shown above.
This next photograph is of a sister in the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service ( QAIMNS ) Reserve, the 1916 photograph shows the uniform with the traditional grey and scarlet service dress uniform with the cape and veil.
The QAIMS were established in March 1902, from the Army Nursing Service. Nurses were ranked as Matrons, Sisters and Staff Nurses, and though they did not have military ranks, they were accorded officer status. Their badge was the Dannebrog Cross, surmounted by an Imperial Crown. A stylised " A " within a circle was in the centre of the cross, the whole set in an oval band with the inscription " Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service ". The badge was suspended on a ribbon, and was worn on the right hand side of the cape.
Reserve service badge bore the letter " R " instead of the Danish Cross.

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  • queen alexanders.jpg


#5 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 03:22 AM

The Territorial Force Nursing Service.
The Territorial Force Nursing Service was formed in August 1908, as the territorial equivalent of the QAIMNS.
The uniform of the TFNS was similar to that of the QAIMNS, with the exception of the cape, which had a metal " T " in each corner of the cape. The TFNS wore an oval metal badge suspended on a ribbon, around the oval band was the inscription " Territorial Force Nursing Service ".
The outdoor uniform consisted of a blue-grey cape, with a metal letter " T " on each coner of the collar, and straw bonnet.

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  • t nurse.jpg
  • terri outdoor.jpg


#6 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 03:28 AM

Nursing Badges.
Left - Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve badge.
Right - Territorial Force Nursing Service badge.

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#7 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 04:49 AM

Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service ( QAIMNS ) badge.

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#8 sheel1955

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 09:37 AM

Thanks everyone for the replies. Impressive!

#9 royalredcross

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 10:11 AM

The regular QA cape was totally scarlet. Reserve nurses were grey edged with scarlet as shown in the photograph.

NGG

#10 Sue Light

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 11:56 AM

My feeling is that this is not a group of British Red Cross VADs. There is nothing in their uniform that is consistent with the regulation BRCS VAD uniform. I've never seen any British VAD, BRCS or St. John, wearing a buttoned overall/coat/dress of that type, with its very unusual style of collar. And VADs didn't wear their hats in that style - early war they were of the 'Sister Dora' type (the 'normal' type of nurse cap) and later had to be tied back at the nape of the neck. Nor have I ever seen any British VAD wearing a large red cross on the left-hand side of her dress. They may well be British women of course, but of a foreign unit - French/Belgian/American (sorry to call that 'foreign'!). I suppose it's just possible that they are part of a privately run UK hospital during the very early days of the war when some wealthy, philanthropic women liked to dress their staff in a non-regulation uniform of their choice. It would be interesting to know more history of the women who are part of the group.

Sue

#11 sheel1955

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 01:16 PM

My feeling is that this is not a group of British Red Cross VADs. There is nothing in their uniform that is consistent with the regulation BRCS VAD uniform. I've never seen any British VAD, BRCS or St. John, wearing a buttoned overall/coat/dress of that type, with its very unusual style of collar. And VADs didn't wear their hats in that style - early war they were of the 'Sister Dora' type (the 'normal' type of nurse cap) and later had to be tied back at the nape of the neck. Nor have I ever seen any British VAD wearing a large red cross on the left-hand side of her dress. They may well be British women of course, but of a foreign unit - French/Belgian/American (sorry to call that 'foreign'!). I suppose it's just possible that they are part of a privately run UK hospital during the very early days of the war when some wealthy, philanthropic women liked to dress their staff in a non-regulation uniform of their choice. It would be interesting to know more history of the women who are part of the group.

Sue


Hi Sue,

It's definitely London, probably Southwark, as this is where two of the women were growing up. I also wondered about the buttoned overall without an apron.
Three of the women are my great aunts. Front row far left-Ada b.1902. Back row-3rd from left, Nell b.1881. 4th from left
Lil-b. 1896

Sheila

#12 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 01:34 PM

My feeling is that this is not a group of British Red Cross VADs. There is nothing in their uniform that is consistent with the regulation BRCS VAD uniform. I've never seen any British VAD, BRCS or St. John, wearing a buttoned overall/coat/dress of that type, with its very unusual style of collar. And VADs didn't wear their hats in that style - early war they were of the 'Sister Dora' type (the 'normal' type of nurse cap) and later had to be tied back at the nape of the neck. Nor have I ever seen any British VAD wearing a large red cross on the left-hand side of her dress. They may well be British women of course, but of a foreign unit - French/Belgian/American (sorry to call that 'foreign'!). I suppose it's just possible that they are part of a privately run UK hospital during the very early days of the war when some wealthy, philanthropic women liked to dress their staff in a non-regulation uniform of their choice. It would be interesting to know more history of the women who are part of the group.

Sue


Sue,
I could not find any examples of uniforms shown in the original posting, however, when the VADs were set up, there were no standard uniforms, with each detachment providing their own uniforms. Whomever set up this particular VAD detachment, this was their particular uniform design.
We have to remember that not everything that took place almost 100 years ago is going to be textbook, and there are always going to be interesting surprises, and we have to expect the unexpected.
Sheila has confirmed that this photograph was taken London, so depending on the actual date of the photograph, be it before 1909, it is a Red Cross Detachment, if 1909 or later, then a VAD Detachment.

#13 sheel1955

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 01:45 PM

Sue,
I could not find any examples of uniforms shown in the original posting, however, when the VADs were set up, there were no standard uniforms, with each detachment providing their own uniforms. Whomever set up this particular VAD detachment, this was their particular uniform design.
We have to remember that not everything that took place almost 100 years ago is going to be textbook, and there are always going to be interesting surprises, and we have to expect the unexpected.
Sheila has confirmed that this photograph was taken London, so depending on the actual date of the photograph, be it before 1909, it is a Red Cross Detachment, if 1909 or later, then a VAD Detachment.


Post 1909, as Ada front left was b. 1902. I would put her at about 14 maybe. So 1916 ish?

#14 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 01:46 PM

The regular QA cape was totally scarlet. Reserve nurses were grey edged with scarlet as shown in the photograph.

NGG


You are perfectly correct, and attached is a nice photograph clearly showing the difference in uniform between the QAIMNS ( on the left of photograph ), and the QAIMNS Reserve ( on the right of the photograph ). We can also see the QAIMNS badge being worn as in post #7

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  • both types.jpg


#15 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 01:50 PM

Post 1909, as Ada front left was b. 1902. I would put her at about 14 maybe. So 1916 ish?


Sheila,
Thank you for dating the photograph as post 1909, with all the information you have given, this is a London VAD Detachment.

#16 Sue Light

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 01:55 PM

I remain completely unconvinced, particularly as if Ada was born circa. 1902 this would date it to post-1919 at the earliest.

Sue

#17 sheel1955

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 02:05 PM

Sue

You infer there was a minimum age to become a VAD. Is that right?

#18 Sue Light

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 02:14 PM

Yes. They were set during wartime for nursing VAD members as 21 to 48 for home service, and 23 to 42 for overseas service, with a lower age limit of 19 for General Service VADs. I accept that there were certainly younger women involved both pre and post-war, so was giving 17 as a more relaxed limit, but not officially allowed. But assuming Ada's age is correct, that makes it even more unlikely that this is a regular Voluntary Aid Detachment during the post-war period, when regulation uniform was strictly adhered to.

Sue

#19 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 02:22 PM

I remain completely unconvinced, particularly as if Ada was born circa. 1902 this would date it to post-1919 at the earliest.

Sue


Sue,
Shelia must know more about her own family history than you or I, and she has confirmed this is a photograph of some of her relatives, taken in London around 1914.
You seem to have a problem with this photograph, as the uniforms shown in the photograph are not those usually seen, and you were probably expecting uniforms more like those shown in post #3.
When the VADs were set up in 1909, there were no regulation uniforms, and VAD Detachments dressed themselves.
London, circa 1914, what else could it be other than a VAD Detachment, if you have any other suggestions then please state them along with your evidence for saying so.
I have not seen this type of uniform before, but it cannot just be dismissed, perhaps it is unique to that particular London Detachment. We must go with the information from Sheila and the photographic evidence.
To just say this is not VAD, with no suggestions as to an alternative, is not really helpful.

#20 sheel1955

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 02:27 PM

Any suggestions for further research? I see the Red Cross will do look-ups for a donation.
I do have the dates correct. Ada was born Apr-May-Jun1902.

Sheila

#21 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 02:32 PM

Any suggestions for further research? I see the Red Cross will do look-ups for a donation.
I do have the dates correct. Ada was born Apr-May-Jun1902.

Sheila


Shelia,
Can you enlarge the image of the military man in the middle of the photograph, as there may be clues in his uniform.

#22 royalredcross

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 02:36 PM

I cannot tell completely from the photo, but the red crosses seem to be on a sort of square piece of material. I have just remembered a photo of the first VADs going off to Belgium in 1914 and their badges on outdoor coats are definitely shield shaped likt the male VAD. (BRCS in Action by Beryl Oliver page 240)

I have no evidence to support it, but like Sue I have a niggling feeling that they may not be BRCS VADs. So many people were "helping out" with Belgian refugees etc etc . that I am sure the VADs were not the only ones in some sort of uniform bearing red crosses.

NGG

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 02:50 PM

I cannot tell completely from the photo, but the red crosses seem to be on a sort of square piece of material. I have just remembered a photo of the first VADs going off to Belgium in 1914 and their badges on outdoor coats are definitely shield shaped likt the male VAD. (BRCS in Action by Beryl Oliver page 240)

I have no evidence to support it, but like Sue I have a niggling feeling that they may not be BRCS VADs. So many people were "helping out" with Belgian refugees etc etc . that I am sure the VADs were not the only ones in some sort of uniform bearing red crosses.

NGG


Perhaps Sheila would know if any of the relatives went to Belgium or France ?
Also, I have asked Sheila to try and enlarge the details of the military man in the photograph as his jacket or cap may give us some other clues.

#24 Sue Light

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 03:41 PM

Sue,
Shelia must know more about her own family history than you or I, and she has confirmed this is a photograph of some of her relatives, taken in London around 1914.
You seem to have a problem with this photograph, as the uniforms shown in the photograph are not those usually seen, and you were probably expecting uniforms more like those shown in post #3.
When the VADs were set up in 1909, there were no regulation uniforms, and VAD Detachments dressed themselves.
London, circa 1914, what else could it be other than a VAD Detachment, if you have any other suggestions then please state them along with your evidence for saying so.
I have not seen this type of uniform before, but it cannot just be dismissed, perhaps it is unique to that particular London Detachment. We must go with the information from Sheila and the photographic evidence.
To just say this is not VAD, with no suggestions as to an alternative, is not really helpful.


I'm sorry that by not agreeing with your point of view you deem me unhelpful - I only post on here to be helpful, but obviously am failing miserably. I certainly have no 'problem' with the photo - all photos are there to be dissected and discussed. When I first replied in #10 I gave my reasons for my views and some other suggestions which you may have missed. From careful reading of Sheila's posts, it seems to me that she is not aware of the date of the photo nor of exactly where it was taken - that is supposition. And to make the point once again, if Great-aunt Ada was born in the spring/summer of 1902, then there is no possible way that she could have been a member of a VAD in 1914 or 1916. And I'm fully aware of the details of the formation of the VAD detachments, their organisation, administration and the uniform regulations both pre-war and during wartime, also of how very tightly controlled the units were during wartime. What I try very hard to do is to avoid leading people up the garden path with half-correct information which is so often a feature of the forum.

Sue

#25 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 04:32 PM

I'm sorry that by not agreeing with your point of view you deem me unhelpful - I only post on here to be helpful, but obviously am failing miserably. I certainly have no 'problem' with the photo - all photos are there to be dissected and discussed. When I first replied in #10 I gave my reasons for my views and some other suggestions which you may have missed. From careful reading of Sheila's posts, it seems to me that she is not aware of the date of the photo nor of exactly where it was taken - that is supposition. And to make the point once again, if Great-aunt Ada was born in the spring/summer of 1902, then there is no possible way that she could have been a member of a VAD in 1914 or 1916. And I'm fully aware of the details of the formation of the VAD detachments, their organisation, administration and the uniform regulations both pre-war and during wartime, also of how very tightly controlled the units were during wartime. What I try very hard to do is to avoid leading people up the garden path with half-correct information which is so often a feature of the forum.

Sue


Sue,
To agree or disagree with a post is not the issue, as with a subject like this, where you only have some information, all anyone can do is offer their theory of what the picture represents.
Based on the information given by the original poster, ie. London, circa 1914, with several females wearing uniforms with red crosses on them, their being VADs seems logical. We all know this is not the usual uniform one would expect for a VAD Detachment, however, who can say exactly what transpired almost 100 years ago.
Hopefully, Sheila will be able to find out if any of her relatives in the photograph went to Belgium or France ?
Also, if we can see more details of the military man in the photograph, that may also help.
In the meantime, all we seem to have is London, circa 1914, which probably is VAD if it is London, or if the relatives went to France or Belgium, then some sort of overseas version of the Red Cross or VAD. Hopefully, we can solve the riddle for Sheila.



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