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This section is what we know so far about the Middlewich Branch of the British Red Cross. This section includes the British Red Cross Information on the standard set up of hospitals during WWI, images of the British Red Cross service records of some of the staff that worked at the Brooks Lane Hospital. We have also gathered local information on what we know about the activities of the Middlewich Branch.
No photographs have been found at present of the ICI clubhouse being used as a hospital, but a photograph does appear with ICI staff pictured outside their new clubhouse. If anyone has any further information we would like to hear from you…
Taken from the book, Middlewich 1900-1950 by Allan Earl.
The Middlewich Branch of the Red Cross Society was behind many events raising funds local, initially helping to raise funds for Belgian refuges in 1914. A shop opened in Middlewich, Hightown under the guidance of Mrs Kay of Ravenscroft Hall. Teams of knitters were engaged for helping soldiers overseas, as well as fundraising exhibitions, events, competitions and coffee evenings. When Brunner Mond offered the new clubhouse in Brooks Lane for the Red Cross Society to use as a hospital, attentions turned to raising much needed funds to run it.
‘The billiard room was reorganised to hold 10- 12 beds and ancillary rooms were to be used as store rooms or treatment and the storage of equipment. At the same time Dr Murphy was called up for the RAMC, to be posted almost immediately to the front. However before he left, he and Dr Hislop (who at this stage remained in Middlewich), together with the Red Cross, arranged for free medical treatment and free medicine to be given to the dependants of the soldiers and sailors away from home should they require it.
Just before Christmas 1914 the first 12 wounded men arrived at the Brooks Lane Hospital. They were from different regiments and from all parts of the country. The local people once again responded to requests for help and arrived at the hospital with milk and potatoes and Col. France Hayhurst sent rabbits from the estate. The men were cared for by 20 Red Cross nurses working on a rota system under the direction of Dr Melville’. (Page 78)
Concerts, dances and whist drives were arranged regularly, the entire proceeds being devoted to the War Relief Fund or the Red Cross Hospital Fund.
The local farmers, who were during this time in a milk dispute with Anglo-Swiss, decided to make the milk into cheese and have a cheese fair to raise funds for the hospital, which totalled £180.
By 1916, two hospitals were supported by fundraisers in Middlewich, Brooks Lane and Ravenscroft Hall which was used for convalesce. It was reported that the Harvest Festival produce was donated to the hospitals plus profits from events.
In August 1917 a croquet tournament was held at Ravenscroft Hall with several convalescing Soldiers taking part.
Records also show that a fete was held in the Council School on New Year’s Eve 1917, 6-700 people attended with the main hall and some of the classrooms had a very festive appearance. The plants decorating the rooms were lent by Mr Boosey. Several patients from the Red Cross Hospital helped in the decoration.
‘Brooks Lane Hospital was closed on January 21st 1919, the Duchess of Westminster visited the hospital to give a personal ‘thank you’ to Mrs Kay, the nursing staff and the band of workers that had spearheaded the fundraising and donations.
682 men had been nursed back to health at both hospitals. Mrs Kay was awarded the OBE for her leadership and work with the Red Cross in Middlewich’. (Page 101)
Permission of use of material is for the purpose of helping to produce a book on hospitals in the First World War and is not to be used for any other purpose.
thanks to : British Red Cross Society
Just before the declaration of war, the numbers of Voluntary Aid Detachments raised by the British Red Cross and the Order of St John and registered by the War Office were as follows:
|British Red Cross||St John||British Red Cross||St John|
By the time that the Armistice was called in 1918 these figures had increased significantly:
|British Red Cross||St John||British Red Cross||St John|
Auxiliary hospitals and convalescent homesDuring the War the British Red Cross provided auxiliary hospitals and convalescent homes for wounded service men. During peacetime the British Red Cross had been preparing for this. It had already secured buildings, equipment and staff so that many temporary hospitals were available for use as soon as wounded men began to arrive from abroad.
The Joint War Committee was the first to supply motorised ambulances to the battlefields. The first convoy arrived in France in September 1914 and proved much more effective in the war terrain than the horse drawn ambulances used in previous conflicts.
The ‘Times Appeal’, issued on 2 October 1914, was instrumental in raising funds for the provision of ambulances. A successful response led to sufficient funds within 3 weeks to purchase 512 Ambulances. The Red Cross bought practically every chassis in the country that was suitable for the purpose.
There were additional appeals, the ‘Dennis-Bayley Fund’ and ‘Transport of Wounded Fund’ which helped maintain the upkeep of the vehicles and there were also a number of Cars presented as gifts to the Society.
Each ambulance carried on average 3939 cases and each driver on average 3000 cases. A total of 2500, both male and female, drivers served.
The UK Flour Millers’ Association presented the Red Cross with two ambulance trains, specially built and equipped, constructed by Great Western and Great Eastern Railways. The trains were working in France during 1915, with another train, converted from ordinary French rolling stock. The three trains carried 461,844 patients.
Work parties were set up by voluntary groups across the country to help supply hospitals with such items as bandages and clothing. Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild (QMNG) was one of many voluntary organisations founded at the start of the First World War to supply gifts and comforts to troops in the field and to sick and wounded soldiers in hospitals at home and abroad. These included pyjamas, bed-jackets, bed-socks, operation stockings, bags, bandages and dressings.
During the war the Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild worked as part of the War Hospitals Supply Depot providing bandages and other items for military hospitals. Work parties who worked as part of the Joint War Committee of the British Red Cross and Order of St John supplied similar items to auxiliary voluntary hospitals.
QMNG worked alongside work parties co-ordinated by the Joint War Committee of the British Red Cross and Order of St John and work parties co-ordinated by a special department of the War Office.
By the end of the war the British Red Cross had:
> provided 90,000 VADs who had been mobilized to work at home and abroad
> established 1786 auxiliary hospitals
> provided and staffed ambulances, hospital trains and motor launches
> dispatched over 47,000 food parcels a month
> supplied 4,000,000 books through the Red Cross War Library
> raised £21,885,035
> spent £20,058,355 on hospitals, medicine, clothing and aftercare to the sick and wounded.
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