Thursday, 16 November 2017

VADs in The First World War - British Voluntary Aid Detachments

When you hear the acronym VAD these days, you tend to think ‘nurse’ but there is rather more to those initials – a whole network of organisations in fact. From 1915 onwards, the Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment recruited thousands of women to be clerks, cooks, drivers, orderlies, cleaners and so on as well as nurses.

The idea of the Voluntary Aid Detachments came about because during the South African War (Boer War), the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade supplied 2,000 men and orderlies to care for the sick and wounded.  In 1905 The British Red Cross Society was founded with the aim of supplying help for home defence during wartime.  The organisation received its Royal Charter in 1908.  With the consent of the War Office, the Red Cross set up Voluntary Aid Detachments as a supplement to the Territorial Medical Service in 1909/1910.  A great many Voluntary Aid Societies already existed in Britain at that time, but they all acted independently.  At first the Order of St. John in Jerusalem Ambulance Brigade and the British Red Cross were the main organisations supplying volunteers, but Territorial Force Association V.A. Detachments already existed, so it was decided that these Detachments should be co-ordinated and that the County system, which had been followed by the Territorial Force Association, should be adopted.  

V.A. Detachments were composed of groups of men and women volunteers and performed many different roles, not solely nursing.   These Voluntary Aid Detachments formed part of the technical reserve and their duties included transport, the organisation of rest stations and auxiliary hospitals, as well as nursing.  

The Red Cross Archive is wonderful for researching VADs in WW1 and most of their records are now available on line.  There is also a facility for posting photographs of unidentified VADs.

Friday, 3 November 2017

"Tipperary to Flanders Fields" commemorating WW1 Remembrance Weekend 2017, Kent, UK

The UK Kent-based Actors’ Co-operative Katapult Productions presents "Tipperary to Flanders Fields" which commemorates the First World War in words and music, using some of the songs and poems from the era.  Some of the content tells the story of the women in WW1 in their own words.  

Devised and directed by Michael Thomas, the performers will be Julia Burnett, Marie Kelly, Alan Simmons and Ann Lindsey Wickens.

Performances of “Tipperary to Flanders Fields” will be held during Remembrance Weekend 2017 at the following venues:

The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne, ME10 4DN on 11th November 2017 at 7.30pm;

at The Astor, Deal, CT14 6AB on 12/11/2017 at 4pm;

and at The Queens Theatre, Hornchurch, RM11 1QT on 13/11/2017 at 2.30pm.

Tickets available from the box offices of the theatres.

Initial information shared from Remembering Women on the Home Front Facebook page, with further information provided by Katapult Productions.