Were any of your family among the 90,000 volunteers who worked with the British Red Cross, at home or abroad, from 1914-1918?
Red Cross volunteers were an army of selfless people who performed all kinds of jobs from nurses to air raid wardens and everything in between during World War 1 (WW1).
Maybe your family member served tea and sandwiches to soldiers embarking trains or returning from the front? Or perhaps he was a stretcher bearer at the station meeting trains full of returning injured soldiers? Many volunteers turned up for their shift after a long day in their normal job just so they could part of the war effort. Whatever their role, major or minor, you are in for a treat with the British Red Cross’ WW1 volunteers database. Even better, it’s online and free.
And , of course, don't forget that Ireland was still part of the UK during World War 1 (WW1) so these records also cover the whole of Ireland.
Searching the Database
Simple and easy to use, you can search the Volunteers database by one or more of the following fields:
The results return a transcription of the record as well as an image of the original employment cards. The records include the individual’s address, their volunteer role and location of service. Although the database records refer to "volunteers", where appropriate, they also record individuals’ remuneration so it wasn't all done for free.
I’ve included Agatha Christie’s VAD service record below to demonstrate the type of information recorded.
Above: A transcript of Agatha Christie's WW1 British Red Cross VAD card
Above: Agatha Christie's actual VAD card, Torquay, UK
This is a wonderful resource for family historians - not least because it records activities of people coming together from right across the social strata. Although the database covers people of both genders, it is also a rare record of female family members who all too often left behind little, if any, footprint of their life in the public records.
The British Red Cross also has many photos online of unidentified VADs. If you know that one or more of your family spent time as a VAD, please look through the photos to see if you recognise any of the individuals. The Red Cross would love to put names to all their photos.
How did you go?
Did you find any family members in the Red Cross database? Do let me know in the Comments Section below if you did. If not, but you still found this blog post useful, please don’t hesitate to share it via your favourite social media platform.
Cheers for now,
Your Family Genealogist
Related Blog Post : International Red Cross : WW1 Prisoners of War Records
Pictures : Courtesy of the British Red Cross