Writer Vera Brittain's VAD personnel index card (© British Red Cross Society Museum & Archives)

Records of First World War Red Cross volunteers go online

Posted on centenarynews.com on 09 December 2014
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The British Red Cross is giving online access to the records of thousands of people, some of them famous names, who served as volunteers during the First World War. 

It's launched a microsite as part of a project to digitise its collection of personnel records for the Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) formed by the British Red Cross and the Order of St John.

With the help of volunteers and Kingston University, 244,000 VAD index cards are being uploaded. 

The aim is to enable people to search for family members, and to explore the work of Red Cross volunteers locally.

Among those who served with VADs were Agatha Christie, creator of the Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple murder mysteries; Vera Brittain, author of Testament of Youth and peace campaigner; and EM Forster, the novelist, essayist and critic, who was also a pacifist.

The 90,000 volunteers worked in the UK and overseas, taking on a wide range of nursing, transport and welfare duties.

Their details are being put online in stages, because of the huge number of records involved. Those for surnames starting with A, B or C are now available, although there are exceptions for famous VADs.

More names are being added every few weeks. It's possible to register for updates, include notifications of when index cards for surnames beginning with a particular letter of the alphabet have been digitised.

To view the British Red Cross WW1 microsite, click here.

Volunteers are still being sought to assist with transcribing/digitising records. The British Red Cross say people don't have to give much time; 5-10 minutes a week would help. Those interested should contact enquiry@redcross.org.uk 

Source: British Red Cross

Images: ©British Red Cross Society Museum & Archives

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News