Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs)
The Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) was a voluntary organisation, providing field nursing services, mainly in hospitals to Britain and various other countries in the British Empire. The organisation was founded in 1909, with the help of the Red Cross and Order of St John.
By the summer of 1914 there were over 2,500 Voluntary Aid Detachments in Britain. Each individual volunteer was called a 'Detachment', or simply a VAD. Of the 90,000 VADs who served in World War One, two-thirds were women and girls, mainy from well educated and 'middle class' backrounds. They assisted with cooking, clerical tasks and nursing. They aided the sick and injured from the battlefields in very dangerous circumstances. Diseases such as cholera, typhoid and the Spanish flu struck the troops and affected many of the VADs. At least 500 nurses died in World War One, many of 'Flu' serving their patients to the end. The true casualty figure for nurses may never be known due to inconsistencies in the recording process. However, a memorial to those nurses who died, including over 100 VADs, was errected at York Minster after the war. The devotion and dedication of the VADs was a remarkable legacy of the First World War.
In Hull, Lady Marjorie Wynn-Carrington, also known as Lady Nunburnholme, contributed immensley to Hull's Voluntary Aid Detachments in World War One.
Lady Nunburnholme, became President of the organisation, and made 150 Peel Street, the Headquarters for the 'Voluntary Aid Detachments of Hull and East Riding'. She organized three hospitals to be started in Hull. She also opened the popular 'Rest Station' canteen, at Hull Paragon Railway station, on the 1st September 1914. Towards the end of 1916, she successfully raised money for a Christmas Fund and sent gifts to troops associated with Hull and East Riding. The Fund was popular and on one day alone collected over £1,000. In November 1917 the Christmas Fund raised over £3,000, sending gifts to thousands of men overseas. Observers on the Western Front noted how well the East Yorkshire soldiers were looked after by their Home town of Hull.
'Soldiers Clubs' were raised in Hull to help serving men. A Soldiers Club with reading room was located at Beverley Road baths on Stepney Lane and run by Major A J Atkinson and his wife.
A 'Soldiers & Sailors Wives Club' was formed on Mason Street by Mrs Hubert Johnson, the wife of the Lord Mayor. It was devoted to provide relaxation for the wife's of servicemen away from home.
Paragon Railway Station housed a popular 'Rest Station and canteen' well used by departing troops. It was established by Lady Nunburnholme, on the 1st September 1914 and was staffed throughout the war by Voluntary Aid Detachments (VAD's). This provided refreshments as well as 'First Aid'
'Peel House' at 150 Spring Bank, was the VAD headquarters, and run by the Lady Mayor. Peel House helped train nurses and locate hospital accommodation for soldiers posted to Hull. It also sent out thousands of parcels of clothing and essentials to troops home and abroad. War Correspondents in France were struck by the way East Yorkshire Units were looked after by people back home. Its most renowned work was sending thousands of food and clothing parcels, plus other necessities to Prisoners of War. This work was extended to captured seaman and interned civilians. Peel House raised public funds to fund their work. The residents of Freehold Street created a 'POW Bread Fund' and distributed food to prisoners of war through Peel House.
Hull was known as the 'Doorstep to Blighty' and received some 80,000 repatriated Prisoners of War, through its ports.
A group picture of staff and patients outside the Cottingham Road, Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital WW1, now the Newland school for Girls.