Many of the wounded men on the Crich Roll of Honour had a period of convalescence at a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) Hospital, although this was not necessarily close to home. During WWI there were about three thousand such hospitals set up in large houses, school buildings, church halls, institutes and other large buildings. The area around Crich had several VAD hospitals which were supported by the community. They were at South Wingfield, Belper, Cromford, Matlock and Darley Dale. Derbyshire had thirty-seven such hospitals established throughout the war.
First set up in 1909, the work of VADs was very important in the First World War. At home and abroad, 23,000 members were volunteer nurses and 15,000 helped in other ways. Auxiliary hospitals were attached to central military hospitals, which looked after patients who remained under military control. In all, there were over 3,000 auxiliary hospitals administered by Red Cross county directors. They were usually staffed by:
a commandant, who was in charge of the hospital (except for medical and nursing services)
a quartermaster, who was responsible for the receipt, custody and issue of articles in the provision store
a matron, who directed the work of the nursing staff
members of the local voluntary aid detachment, who were trained in first aid and home nursing.
In many cases, women in the neighbourhood volunteered on a part-time basis, although they often needed to supplement voluntary work with paid labour, such as in the case of cooks. Medical attendance was provided locally and voluntarily, despite the extra strain that the medical profession was already under at that time.
The patients at these hospitals were generally less seriously wounded than at other hospitals and needed convalescence. The servicemen preferred the auxiliary hospitals to military hospitals because they were not so strict. Also, auxiliary hospitals were less crowded and the surroundings more homely.
Women in particular got involved in volunteering with the Red Cross in ways that were considered suitable for ladies. Two of the Duke of Devonshire’s daughters – Lady Rachel Cavendish and Lady Dorothy Cavendish (who married prime minister Harold Macmillan) – worked at the county clearing house in Derbyshire, allocating wounded servicemen to the appropriate hospitals or nursing homes in the county. The duke’s daughter-in-law, Lady Edward Cavendish, volunteered over 1,000 hours making garments for the wounded.
The large number of war casualties during the early part of the war resulted in the need for hospitals to be quickly set up. Large houses, school buildings, church halls, institutes and other large buildings were converted into emergency hospitals. Derbyshire had thirty-seven such hospital established throughout the war. Members of the Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) who had received training in first-aid and nursing came to the fore. They cleaned and prepared the rooms which were to become hospital wards. The local doctors provided the medical care and the VADs were supervised by one or more registered nurses. As the servicemen improved in health and were in convalescence entertainments and special treats were arranged for them.
Local ladies who worked as Red Cross volunteers
May Allin, Bull Bridge. Engaged 1914, terminated 1918. Duties – Home worker, knitting and needlework. BELPER
Ellen Allsop, Crich Carr. Engaged 1914, terminated 1919. Duties – Home worker, knitting and needlework. BELPER
Hannah Bown, Bull Bridge. Engaged 1916, terminated 1919. Duties – Home worker, knitting and needlework. BELPER
Ann Burrows, Town End, Crich. Engaged 1910, terminated 1919. Duties – Home worker, knitting and needlework. BELPER
Elizabeth Butts, Sawmills. Engaged 1916, terminated 1919. Duties – Home worker, knitting and needlework. BELPER
Vera Cheetham, Robin Hood, Whatstandwell. Engaged 1918, terminated 1919. Duties– wardmaid. SPRING HALL, HALIFAX
South Wingfield Red Cross VAD Hospital
In South Wingfield the VAD Hospital was situated at Mill House, opposite the school on Church Lane, owned by the Bower family (owners of the mills).
Photographs courtesy of the South Wingfield Local History Society
Miss Florence Humphries
Her two Red Cross records show –
Newspaper Reports on Florence Humphries
Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald 10 November 1917
The Courier 1 May 1920
Photos courtesy Tim Scott
Derbyshire Courier 28th November 1914
At the last meeting of the South Wingfield Hospital, a vote of thanks was passed to Mr C.W.Bower J.P, for having presented a pair of new boots to each of the twelve Belgian soldiers at the hospital.
Derbyshire Courier 15th February 1915
A further number of wounded soldiers were brought from the base hospital at Leicester to the South Wingfield Hospital on Friday, arriving at South Wingfield by train. They were conveyed from the station to the hospital in Col. Pearson’s motor car. Several of the soldiers were frost bitten.
Derbyshire Courier 20th November 1915
In the absence of Mrs F.N. Smith, who will be away for a few weeks from the district, Mrs Tristram of Wingfield manor, is acting as commandant at the South Wingfield Red Cross V.A.D. Hospital
Belper News 28th October 1916
Margaret Sarah Rae, the latter in charge of the Military Hospital at South Wingfield….
Derbyshire Courier 27th January 1917
In aid of the South Wingfield V.A.D.Hospital funds a football match was played on the Colliery ground on Saturday, between Wingfield Manor Colliery and Wessington United, the latter being assisted by several Crich players.
Derbyshire Courier 13th March 1917
In connection with the South Wingfield Red Cross V.A.D. Hospital, a concert was given on Monday in the Parish Room, Mr W.H.Young presiding. (Long description of all the performers )
Mr W.H.Young (Hospital Treasurer) said that since the opening of the Hospital the sum of £1,333 had been raised. The proceeds were for the Hospital funds…
Belper News 10th August 1917
FANCY FAIR AT SOUTH WINGFIELD
The South Wingfield Red Cross, V.A.D Hospital has been kept going by local subscriptions and generous helpers for two years and nine months, during which period about two hundred wounded soldiers have been cared for and nursed back to health.
Derbyshire Times 11th August 1917
The sports arranged in connection with the South Wingfield Red Cross V.AD. Hospital took place on Saturday in grounds kindly lent by Mr C.W. Bowe, J.P. Dale House, Oakerthorpe.
Derbyshire Courier 17th July 1918
South Wingfield Red Cross Hospital is still without patients, but a batch of wounded soldiers is expected any time.
Derbyshire Times 12th August 1918
Seven more wounded soldiers arrived on Saturday afternoon at South Wingfield Red Cross Hospital from Leicester Base Hospital.
Derbyshire Courier 20th August 1918
The fortnightly meeting of the South Wingfield Red Cross Hospital Committee (took the decision) …… As there were few wounded soldiers it was decided to give the staff a fortnight’s holiday.
Derbyshire Courier 28th August 1918
The wounded soldiers from the South Wingfield Red Cross Hospital had an enjoyable outing last Thursday to Nottingham. They were accompanied by Mrs Vardy (Matron) and Mrs Bower (president).
Derbyshire Courier 16th November 1918
The death has occurred of Nurse Adam, who for some time was nurse at South Wingfield Red Cross Hospital.
The hospital celebrated its fourth anniversary on 5 November; over 300 wounded soldiers have been inmates since the opening.
It has been reported that one of the inmates had been removed to Derby Royal Infirmary on account of serious illness.
Derbyshire Times 28th December 1918
Christmas was celebrated in a more joyous spirit as a consequence of the armistice. Carol singers especially were much in evidence. At South Wingfield Red Cross Hospital the wounded soldiers were specially entertained.
Derbyshire Courier 25th January 1919
South Wingfield Red Cross Hospital is to close down at the end of this month, an official communication having been received by the President (Mrs Bower) giving notice to this effect. The staff were given a fortnight’s notice on Saturday, and the weekly voluntary collectors terminated their duties at the week-end. Since the hospital was opened in October 1914, 316 soldiers have been inmates. For three and a half years the hospital was upheld by voluntary weekly subscriptions and donations. During the latter part of the time a Government grant has been received, and this was a welcome help to the funds. The five remaining patients in the hospital are expected to return to Leicester to-day (Saturday).
Uncredited newspaper 8th February 1919
A list of war work carried out in the village was given by the Clerk as follows : £2500.00 raised for the local V.A.D Hospital… “
Derbyshire Courier 8th February 1919
After being open since October, 1914, the South Wingfield Red Cross Hospital closed on Saturday. The patients left in the morning for Leicester Hospital, and the Matron (Mrs F. Vardy) and staff left later in the day. Since the opening of the hospital 319 patients have been inmates, and several local discharged soldiers have received treatment as out-patients. Until the last eight or nine months the hospital was upheld by voluntary subscriptions and donations.
Derbyshire Courier 15th February 1919
At a meeting of the South Wingfield Red Cross Hospital Committee ………. letter was read by Mr G.F.Nix, secretary, from Cecil H.Armitage, County Director, giving official instructions to close and regulations to adhere to. Mr Young, Treasurer, in presenting the financial report, said that since the opening of the hospital the income was £2,634.14s. 6½d, against £2,51. 3s. 11d expenditure, the balance in hand being £117. 10s. Before deciding what should be done with the balance it was resolved to have a public social gathering of subscribers on 20 February. It was decided to replace broken and lost goods lent to the hospital.
Photo reproduced with permission: British Red Cross Museum and Archives
The Country Branches: Their organisation and work during the first months of the war, vol. 1 (1917): British Red Cross Publication
Name of hospital: South Wingfield VAD
Officer in charge: Mrs Francis Smith
No of beds: 12
No of patients received: 88
No of months open: 14
Grants received: None
The High Peak News on 9th February 1918 reported honours for Dr Marie Orme Red Cross VAD Hospital at Darley Dale; Mrs Ella Smith Red Cross VAD Hospital at South Wingfield and Mrs Emily Strutt Red Cross VAD at Belper.
Belper Red Cross VAD Hospital
In Belper the Strutt family provided Green Hall as a VAD hospital. Green Hall was at the top of King Street, opposite the Belper Memorial Garden, and had previously been used as a boys' school. The hospital began receiving wounded men in December 1914; it had forty beds and an up-to-date operating theatre – all financed by George Herbert Strutt. Over three thousand men were cared for throughout the war. The matron was Nurse Crump, (who was awarded the Royal Red Cross in 1918) and the Commandant was Mrs Herbert Strutt, (who was awarded the OBE for services to the Red Cross.)
Belper News 23 April 1915
VOLUNTARY NURSES WANTED In anticipation of the numbers of wounded who are expected shortly to arrive in this country, the War Office desire about 3000 members of Voluntary Aid Detachments is to offer themselves for Special Service in Military Hospitals. As the whole of this number can hardly be spared from Detachments that are already hard at work, women holding the both First Aid and Nursing Certificates are allowed to join V.A.D.'s for a week or two to satisfy the Commandment as to their capabilities, so that he or she may recommend them for this Special Service. If anyone should offer herself who does not hold both “First Aid" and “Nursing" Certificates, but who has had any hospital training, she cannot be admitted under this scheme, but the County Director will be glad to submit her offer to the War Office for the case to be considered on its merits.
The demand for this Special Service is very urgent and we are asked to state that anyone wishing to offer themselves should apply to their local Red Cross Township Leader for further particulars and the necessary forms.
Belper News 24th October 1915
All the soldiers who are receiving treatment at the Belper Red Cross Hospital, opened and maintained by Mr and Mrs Strutt months ago, left town on Thursday for Leicester, which is the base for invalided wounded soldiers. The premises are being over hauled in preparation for new arrivals, due next month. Everyone of the men staying at Green Hall appreciate the excellent atetation (sic) received. Many of those who have stayed in Belper have also gone through experiences in other military hospitals., but they make comparisons of a flattering description in favour of their sojourn here. As soldiers, they are not allowed to expatiate publicly upon the differences in institutions, though could they do so Belper would undoubtedly be extolled over many others. The men have been treated with every consideration both by the founders of the hospital and the residents, as our columns have testified week by week. In saying we welcome the soldiers next month is no mere formula, the fact that they are enforced visitors under painful circumstances bringing the vast war home to us more than any incidents in connection with it. Deprived of limbs, as some of them are, is one of the distressing sight Belper has had to endure more than a year.
Belper residents were advised to stop providing the wounded servicemen with alcoholic drink – although this was sometimes ignored and the penalty paid!
Derby Telegraph 31 August 1916
SUPPLYING WOUNDED SOLDIERS WITH DRINK
WOMAN SENT TO PRISON AT BELPER
At Belper Petty Sessions to-day (Thursday), before Ald. R, Waite and other magistrates, Martha E. Jewkes, married woman, Belper, and Rhoda M. Thorpe, Whatstandwell, were charged with procuring liquor for wounded soldiers at Belper. – Sergeant Buxton said that on the 10th August he went to Jewkes' house and told her that soldiers had gone into the Red Cross Hospital drunk. She admitted that beer had been fetched for the soldiers. – A soldier said he was invited, with two others, to this house. Thorpe fetched all the beer, four or five pints. The money was found among the soldiers, and they were at the house about an hour and a half.
Supt. Vardy said he saw the two women, and Jewkes admitted fetching two pints of beer, and the other defendant acknowledged getting four pints. Thorpe was a woman of very doubtful character. He was satisfied that the landlady of the house did not know the liquor was for soldiers. The magistrate repremanded Jewkes, who was fined £1, and Thorpe was ordered one month without the option.
The British Journal of Nursing 13 July 1918, pages 23 & 24
THE ROYAL RED CROSS
The King conferred the decoration of the Royal Red Cross upon the following ladies at Buckingham Palace, on July 3rd, as follows:–
CRUMP, Miss E.M. Matron, Red Cross Hospl., Belper, Derbyshire
Derby Daily Telegraph 25th November 1918
WAR SERVICES IN HOSPITALS
LIST OF LOCAL MENTIONS
A communique has been issued giving a list of names of those brought to the notiice of the Secretary of State for War by the Chairman of the Joint war Committee of the British Red Cross Society and Order of St. John of Jerusalem in England for valuable services rendered in connection with the war.
The Derbyshire names are:– Mrs F. Harber, Red Cross VAD Hospital, Belper; [with others]
The High Peak News on 9th February 1918 reported honours for Dr Marie Orme Red Cross VAD Hospital at Darley Dale; Mrs Ella Smith Red Cross VAD Hospital at South Wingfield and Mrs Emily Strutt Red Cross VAD at Belper.
Willersley Castle VAD Hospital, Cromford
The home of the Arkwright family in Cromford was offered to the military authorities as a potential hospital.
Derby Daily Telegraph 7th August 1914
MR ARKWRIGHT OFFERS WILLERSLEY CASTLE AS HOSPITAL
Mr F.C. Arkwright, Deputy Lieutenant for Derbyshire, has placed Willersley Castle, Cromford, at the disposal of the military authorities to be used, if necessary, as a hospital. Willersley is a fine mansion 15 miles from Derby. Mr Arkwright has reserved only two rooms for himself and his family.
High Peak News 27 March 1915
Derby Daily Telegraph 15th March 1918
THE ROLL OF HONOUR
LOCAL NURSES MENTIONED
The names of the undermentioned have been brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for War for valuable nursing services rendered in connection with the war:–
Sister Mrs K.R. Bonham Carter, Willersley Auxiliary Hospital, Cromford
Nurse Miss W. Elin, Willersley Auxiliary Hospital, Cromford
Nurse Miss M. Wright, Willersley Auxiliary Hospital, Cromford
Whitworth Institute VAD Hospital, Darley Dale
Photo courtesy Sharron Hibbitt
High Peak News 22 May 1915
THE WHITWORTH INSTITUTE WOUNDED
AN IDEAL HOSPITAL
This Hospital is now doing excellent work for all wounded men sent home from the fighting lines in France and Belgium.
The Voluntary Aid Detachments in Darley Dale and Matlock have combined in order to equip about forty beds. Half of these are now occupied, the men having arrived by motor ambulances last Monday week. During the two weeks they have been at Darley they have all made excellent progress, and several of them are now sufficiently well for discharge.
The Institute has proved itself an ideal building for the purpose, and the work of the two Women's Detachments has demonstrated the value of the First Aid and Nursing training they have undergone during the past two years in preparation for this most useful work. The Red Cross Society has sent fully trained Hospitals Sisters, who superintend the willing helpers V.A.D.
The Hospital is under the CONTROL OF THE TWO COMMANDANTS, Dr Marie Goodwin Orme (Matlock) and Dr Cecil Sharp (Darley Dale). The kitchen department is in the hands of Mrs Boycott, and the improved condition of the men is in no small degree do to her efficient work in preparing excellent meals for them. For the maintenance of the Hospital a subsistence allowance for the men is made by the War Office, but that is insufficient to cover the cost of working the Hospital, and an appeal is made for contributions in money or in kind.
Owners of motor-cars would be rendering service to the Hospital and a great pleasure and benefit to the men if they would occasionally take some of the convalescents for drives. Arrangements can be made with the Quarter-master or the Sister in charge, so that suitable patients may be selected. Provisions of all sorts, fruit, vegetables, milk, butter, eggs, jams, pickles, biscuits, cakes, etc. are urgently needed. Mineral waters, tobacco, cigarettes, plants, flowers, stationery, games, cards, gramophone records will also be very acceptable. Gifts may be sent to the Whitworth Institute, Darley Dale, addressed to the quartermaster. A generous response has already been made, and the givers are thanked for the following.
The Red Cross records for Whitworth Red Cross VAD Hospital show that in 1916 there were 55 beds but by 1918 this had risen to 88 beds. Patients treated in 1916 totalled 429 which rose to 628 patients in 1918. Around 2,000 soldiers were treated here during the war period.
Derby Daily Telegraph 9th June 1915
DUCHESS OF DEVONSHIRE VISITS WOUNDED
The Duchess of Devonshire paid a surprise visit yesterday to the British wounded at the Whitworth Institute, which has been handed over to the Red Cross Society. Her Grace was accompanied by Lady Maud Cavendish, and she was quite pleased with the arrangements which are made for the accommodation of the wounded by the Matlock and Darley Dale Red Cross Societies, of which Dr Sharpe and Dr Marie Orme are the commandants.
Matlock Auxiliary Hospital, Darley Dale
Mention is made in early reports of the Matlock Auxiliary Hospital at Darley Dale. This was possibly the Whitworth Cottage Hospital on the A6 between Matlock and Darley Dale.
Reference to this hospital was made in a newspaper report of 1917.
Derby Daily Telegraph 16th August 1917
RED CROSS AND DERBYSHIRE SOLDIERS' COMFORTS
MEETING OF THE JOINT COUNTY COMMITTEES
A joint meeting of the County Committee of the Derbyshire branch of the British Red Cross Society and the Derbyshire Soldiers' Comforts Association was held at Derbys Infirmary.
[General information on attendees and comment from the Deputy President]
The County Director (Mr Cecil H. Armitage) presented his report, which contained the following:–
"We have now in Derbyshire 16 Red Cross VAD hospitals and wards with 656 beds, 5 St John VAD hospitals and wards with 165 beds, 6 Red Cross private hospitals with 216 beds, and 6 Red Cross civil hospitals with 387 beds – a total of 1,424 beds. ...
In consequence of orders received that auxiliary hospitals of less than ten beds are no longer to be used, I have written to the Whitworth Cottage Hospital, Darley Dale , notifying them and thanking them for all their kind help. ...
Special grants had been made to Willersley Red Cross Hospital, Bakewell Red Cross VAD Hospital, Derby Infirmary, Darley Dale Red Cross VAD Hospital, in each case for an open shelter, which are very much appreciated by the men, and considerably expedite their recovery.
The High Peak News on 9th February 1918 reported honours for Dr Marie Orme Red Cross VAD Hospital at Darley Dale; Mrs Ella Smith Red Cross VAD Hospital at South Wingfield and Mrs Emily Strutt Red Cross VAD at Belper
Little is recorded about VAD Hospitals although there is an excellent website entitled "British Military Nurses" which has fascinating facts about these women at war.
Click the link to go to that site: Voluntary Aid Detachments
Derbyshire Times 16 January 1915
HEROINES EVERY ONE
A Chesterfield Grammar School "old boy," who returned to Chesterfield for a few days sojourn and after having spent two strenuous months caring for the wounded at a British Red Cross Base "somewhere in France," had many interesting incidents to relate.
"I have seen little of the glories of war," he told Derbyshire Times representative, "but of the grim realities, the aftermath of war, I have seen in abundance." The British "Tommies" are simply splendid. When they arrived at the hospitals many of them are not inclined to return to the scene of action, but immediately they are on the road to convalescence they long to again take their place in the firing line. Their conduct is wonderful. They all seem Lion-hearted and are most grateful to the medical men and nurses.
"The most common wounds sustained by our soldiers are due to shrapnel and are in the back and head. If anyone thinks this signifies that the troops have been running away then, they are wrong. He should be properly disillusioned. The wounds are caused by the enemy timing their shells to burst just as they pass behind the trenches.
"The Germans seem unable to use the bayonet with much success. In about 5000 wounded, only one of them had a bayonet- caused injury and that was only slight.
A striking example of the British soldiers bravery is a "Tommy" who had 64 wounds of various sizes. From one of them a 2½ inch headless screw was extracted. It was a miracle that no bones were broken. Every day his injuries were dressed and he never complained but almost invariably smiled and much appreciated being nicknamed "Pepper-pot lid." He is now fast recovering and has been sent to an English Hospital.
"Devotion to duty is conspicuous in all branches of the service on one occasion a convoy went for three miles near the firing line to pick up wounded. When the wagon returned it was noticed that the driver was looking very pale and ill and in fainting condition. It was ascertained that after the motor had been laden with its human freight the driver's knee had been shattered by an enemy missile but he had stuck to his post and driven his men safely to hospital.
"Words seem totally inadequate to express one's admiration of the nurses, who are daily making great sacrifices in their glorious work of succouring the wounded. They are now accustomed to the awful sights which necessarily confront them under the circumstances and they proceed steadily and bravely with their work, never grumbling, never tiring, and never found wanting. They would stick to their duty day and night if permitted. They are ever ready and well-prepared for the cases which may arrive at any moment, and unfalteringly and unflinchingly they spend their lives for the Allies noble sons whose sufferings are speedily mitigated as a result of their kindly attention. Briefly, they are heroines everyone.
There is a Pathé News clip showing "ambulances" moving British soldiers in Salonika during WW1.
View the clip