Somewhere in France

Somewhere in France

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Canadian Red Cross Headquarters, London

Many Canadian voluntary nurses (VADs) served at Canadian Red Cross Headquarters in London during the Great War. Mary MacLeod Moore, in her book The Maple Leaf's Red Cross, described the Canadian Red Cross headquarters this way:

"A day at the Headquarters of the Red Cross told a thrilling story to anyone with ears and eyes. The eagerness to be of use, the enthusiasm and the friendliness of these voluntary workers--for the great majority were voluntary workers--resulted in big things being done...The duties were not all interesting and inspiring. No work is that is done day in and day out...There were some who toiled from first to last, at a sacrifice of comfort and ease and luxury and time...No short and easy hours were allotted to the Red Cross workers. Early and late they were "one the job." Sometimes midnight found them working hard that none who trusted them might be disappointed. You went early in the morning and found the Chief Commissioner beginning his day by talking to officials over the telephone, seeing a constant stream of visitors, offering money, advice, help; reading cables from Canada about some important development or messages from France as to transport and supplies. You found Lady Drummond, in the midst of her workers, keeping her finger on all the departments of the Bureau, and in addition seeing soldiers and civilians bound on a variety of errands, and none was sent away unsatisfied...You saw a roomful of women filing information about wounded Canadians and writing letters to their people at home. [Note: this may have been the work that Aileen Powers-Peel was doing before her death.] You went into another and watched piles of letters being sorted and read, in which comforts were requested for sick and wounded men, or thanks were offered by the men themselves to the O.C. Parcels. You went into another room and women were packing quickly and skilfully these comforts and dainties to cheer up a man in hospital. You turned to the prisoners of War Department and there the workers were sorting letters from the prisoners to their staunch friends, and filing carefully on cards the details concerning them. Plans for their increased comfort were being considered and their families written to cheerfully..."

The Maple Leaf's Red Cross is well worth a read, if you are looking for information about the work of professional military nurses, VADs, and the Canadian Red Cross in general. It is available from Amazon in reprint form, or second hand (try

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