We have posted about 8,000 V.A.D. Members to Military Hospitals since February 1915. These work both at home and abroad, including Malta, Egypt and France. Of these 1,404 have left the Service for various reasons as shown in attached statistics.
Contract terminated may mean:
a. Unsuitable after 1 month’s service
b. Member’s own wish to leave.
c. ‘Unsuitable’ is sent away after the months probation.

Terms of Service
     Our members join for one month on probation. If suitable they sign a contract for a further six months service. They receive:
Salary - £20 per annum
Uniform allowance - £4 per annum
and all their expenses paid.

     It must be understood that these statistics refer almost entirely to Military Hospitals staffed by Miss Becher and Miss Sidney Browne and also to a limited number of Poor Law Infirmaries and other such ‘War Hospitals.’ This work is independent of V.A.D. and Auxiliary Hospitals in which some 40,000 beds are provided in addition to Military Hospitals, and which are mainly staffed by local V.A.D.s.  These statistics do not include Scotland which has appointed some 950 V.A.D. members to Military Hospitals in addition to Auxiliary Hospitals.

     We receive very few complaints from our members who seem to be wonderfully happy on the whole. The chief complaints we hear are:

1. Want of encouragement on the part of the trained nurses

2. Uncertainty of Service. A girl who has proved to be reliable and competent in one hospital where she has had responsible work may be transferred to another hospital where she is only given very menial duties to perform. We hope that this may now be altered owing to the fact that all V.A.D. Members who have served 13 months consecutively and who are recommended by their Matron, shall in future wear a white bar which will ensure senior work.

3. In a very few cases food and quarters are complained of, but so seldom that we believe these complaints to be negligible.  We find that the Matrons-in-Chief are invariably willing to help us look into complaints and that they are as anxious as we are to ensure redress when necessary.

     The complaints we hear from Matrons of our members are usually:
a. Lack of discipline.
b. Reluctance to accept criticism
c. Independence
but as a rule the reports are amazingly good and the members are evidently appreciated.

     Early in August we had 600 vacancies we were unable to fill. A general appeal was published in the Press which brought in a good response. But women will not be content to be on a waiting list. They wish for immediate employment, and as there are more openings than suitable women we cannot depend upon our Reserve. If the War Office could give us an estimate of probably requirements, and if they would pay a retaining fee to suitable women, it would be far easier and more satisfactory. These women retained could then be gaining experience in Civil or Military Hospitals with a view to becoming more useful. Instead of doing this the War Office has twice encouraged us to build up a strong Reserve which had to wait months before they were wanted.

     At Christmas time we had 3,000 carefully selected V.A.D. members waiting with a view to replacing the men orderlies, as was decided upon by the Military Authorities. The Hospitals put off the exchange of men for women until May or June by which time our members had, of course, taken up other work and we were obliged to recruit among far less suitable women to fill the posts. It should have been perfectly easy to obtain an estimate of how many women would be required to replace the men, but in answer to several enquiries we were told it was not possible.
     The same may perhaps apply to trained nurses. Women cannot afford to remain out of work for unlimited months. I therefore suggest that:

1. The War Office be invited immediately to give an estimate of probable requirements in the near future both of trained nurses and V.A.D. members.

2. That the Civil Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Fever Hospitals etc., etc., be called upon to be willing temporarily to spare a sufficient proportion of their trained staff to supply the demand as it occurs.

3. That we be given instructions to prepare sufficient V.A.D. members, who will receive a retaining fee and at the same time will be given lectures and practical experience in hospitals.

I should like also to add that economy is probably the cause of some of the difficulties. If our Department were entrusted with the duty of finding suitable and sufficient nurses and V.A.D. members, and if our office expenses were born by the War Office, we should probably be able to fill the deficiencies on above conditions. The Matron-in-Chief at the War Office has a very limited staff. I believe the women exist but I do not believe that they realise the need to come forward. Personally, I have been convinced for the last 6 months that if the War continues, we shall require some form of conscription or enlistment to supply sufficient suitable women for the needs of the Government in various spheres of work.

     Many women are still selfish and like to choose both their work and where they will consent to do it. We have absolutely no power over our members until they are under contract. The only penalty we have is dismissal. We are therefore compelled to trust to moral obligations such as loyalty and honour. The women now coming forward are mainly those who have delayed doing so and who are far more apt to bargain than our good enthusiastic members who volunteered as soon as the need arose. I only suggest that our Department should undertake the work because we have a well trained and keen staff of some 70 unpaid workers and our system has proved to be satisfactory. We should require:
More office space
More paid typists and filers

     But it would be cheaper to entrust with the work and to pay our expenses than to set up an additional Department. We should require more technical help from Matrons and we would of course work in close touch with the Matron-in-Chief at the War Office. It is interesting to note that during the last rush the emergency measure of engaging untrained women locally instead of through our Central Selection Board proved to be a failure and was cancelled by the War Office as soon as we were in a position to fulfil requisitions. Attached forms may be of interest as they will shew our standard for V.A.D. members.




Winter 1917

     We hear a great deal about V.A.D. work. Praise and criticism but chiefly praise which is well deserved because both men and women have worked patiently and indefatigably without advertisement and with no thought of self except in a few who dress up in our uniform and are photographed for some picture paper.  V.A.D. members serve. They fill the many unavoidable gaps in the care of the Sick and Wounded and they fill them so well that their nick-name, ‘V.A.D.’, which really stands for the Detachment and not for the individual is known throughout the whole country. But how many of the public realise that the V.A.D. organisation is not a mushroom growth of this war, and that the success of the movement is due to preparation before the war?

     The original scheme for Voluntary Aid to the Sick and Wounded was thought out in 1909 by Sir Alfred Keogh, Director General of the Army Medical Service at the War Office. The Organisation was to be the technical reserve of the Territorial Force Association for mobilisation in case of invasion. The T.F.A. could delegate the raising of Detachments to the British Red Cross Society and later to the Order of St. John, but they were registered at the War Office and shown in Army Orders. The movement grew with amazing rapidity and thousands of men and women joined Detachments throughout the United Kingdom. Some seriously, some in name only, but all faced a good deal of ridicule and chaff from friends. We were always being asked why we prepared for what would never come.

     Some of us prepared pretty thoroughly as though a subconscious instinct drove us on. In London the training was very strenuous. A three year training course was provided with lectures, drill and camp life. We learnt the theory of nursing and our examination papers compared pretty favourably with those of hospitals. We also learnt the practical side in the wards of hospitals whose Matrons and Sisters were broad-minded and far-seeing enough to put up with the tiresomeness of teaching relays of enthusiastic but untrained women the elements of nursing. This kindly help will always be remembered with gratitude by those who have the good of the sick and wounded at heart. Realising that our work would not be only nursing we studied administration, hygiene and sanitation, cooking, store-keeping, carpentering and above all things improvisation. We learnt to make the best use of whatever came to hand. Further we learnt discipline. Drill pounded into us the art of holding our tongues and obeying orders, grading and observance of etiquette taught us self-control and obedience. We also learnt a little about Military Organisation and this has helped us a great deal when suddenly expected to know a good many things unknown to most civilians.

     Is it any wonder that when War broke out the V.A.D. Organisation was ready? Ready all over the country. Those annual inspections when the local V.A.D. turned a barn, a school, a station or any available building into a hospital or dressing station had taught us to prepare quickly. There had been a lot of play but we had taken it as seriously as children take their games and the result was that hospitals, dressing stations, aid posts, or whatever was required sprang into being and were ready at a few hour’s notice when the sudden need came. Later, when the shortage of trained nurses loomed ahead, the V.A.D.s were appealed to to provide probationers. Thousands came forward; as many as 600 a week were appointed to Military Hospitals to help the nurses and to replace men orderlies. Again when it was proposed to replace men in the various Departments of Military Hospitals, the V.A.D. General Service Section stepped in. Dispensers, cooks, clerks, store-keepers and whatever class was required, quietly took up the work and the hospitals went on as though no change had taken place.
Women V.A.D. members have been working on the Lines of Communication and at the Bases in France since War began; doing all sorts of odd duties but always ready to fill the gaps – understudying trained nurses, staffing Nurses’ Clubs, Hostels for the relations of the Wounded, Canteens in Convalescent Camps, Aid Posts at Railway Stations, Convalescent Homes for Nurses, Motor Ambulance Convoys – working quietly in their hundreds and thousands, paid or unpaid, according to which they can afford, but all ultimately working for their cause – for the Sick and Wounded.

     And now we want recruits. We want thousands of women to fill up our ranks before the Spring and Summer – we want them for unpaid daily service in the Auxiliary Hospitals releasing all who can leave home as these are needed for work in other places. We want them for Nursing or General Service in Military Hospitals where those who cannot afford to work without pay are paid by the War Office. We want them for work under the Joint Committee of the B.R.C.S. and Order of St. John in France, where they are giving the pay they might earn elsewhere to the funds of the Red Cross and Order of St. John. We are very anxious not to ask the Joint Committee to pay our V.A.D. members because every penny subscribed to those funds should be spent on comforts for the Sick and Wounded.

     Women who volunteer should make up their minds to take up our work seriously, learning our ideals and realising that they inherit traditions which they must honour and sustain and that they must accept our discipline and be loyal to their Officers. They should be between the ages of 17 and 50 and they must be strong and healthy and ready to undertake any work wherever they may be needed. They must be well educated and those who have special qualifications fitting them for any special branch of the work should state them. Volunteers for Voluntary Aid Detachments must apply to:
Mrs. Tennant, Director, Women’s Section, National Service Department, St. Ermin’s Hotel, London, for forms to fill in. These applications will be carefully sifted and the suitable applicants will be referred to Detachments within their own Counties for enrolment. We shall gladly welcome applications from women who want to help and who cannot do so unless they receive a salary. But we also want large numbers of those who can give their help without pay. From both we must claim unselfishness, devotion and loyalty.
Is anything too much to give for the Sick and Wounded who have given all for us?

Source: Imperial War Museum Women's Work Collection




     This has retained to a remarkable degree, the original spirit of enthusiasm and efficiency. Commandant J. Crowdy, V.A.D. London/128, has developed the work in many directions and evidently has the complete confidence of her staff and she is ably seconded by her Quartermasters. The young Rest Station members show wonderful resource and self-confidence and have a very admirable sense of the dignity of their position and offer help in whatever form it is required by all who are in trouble. They feed all the French ambulance trains passing through as well as those British T.A.T.s which may need supplementary food or drink. In the case of the French trains a ‘grand repas’ is required by the Authorities which means three courses followed by coffee for all walking cases. This is served in the train. In addition to this, wounded officers require preferential treatment while severe cases among the men have special diets.

     All such work necessitates great power of organisation in officers and infinite patience in members all of which are admirably shown by the whole Unit which is to a certain extent used as a school for new members. They still continue to collect the laundry bundles for all British Ambulance train staffs, arranging for the washing and having them ready for the next visit of the train to the station. The Dispensary does very necessary work for local sick or accidents and the French civilian population look upon it as a safe place for treatment. Stores of bandages etc., are given to the Ambulance trains and the officers and members miss no opportunity to help in any way they can. The food of the staff is quite excellent. I lunched there several times without warning and invariably found plenty of wholesome well-cooked food including two or three vegetables and fruit. The average cost of four meals per day per head works out at 2 francs 92 centimes.

     The Nursing and General Service members seem to be doing very well. Matron reported that she was quite satisfied. The store rooms are admirably fitted up. The kitchen was not up to the usual V.A.D. standard but we visited at an hour when it could not be looking at its best owing to the work. Commandant Lewis V.A.D. London/28, took us round the billets which were quite excellent. An annexe has been added and every member is well housed in dry airy rooms. There was a general feeling of real comfort and content and the spirit of the V.A.D.s in that Unit would seem to be as good as possible.

     A newly-opened Convalescent Home for Sisters and V.A.D.s. It is a charming and well furnished house among the sand dunes at the edge of the woods. Commandant Eaden, V.A.D. Hants/2, who is in charge, would seem to be exactly the right woman for her post. She was evidently interested in the work and desirous of ensuring peace and comfort for her guests. The work of the kitchen and house is done by V.A.D. members who looked cheerful and very neat and tidy.

     This is one of Princess Victoria’s Clubs and is staffed by two V.A.D. members. It is a small villa on the edge of the chalk hills overlooking Etaples and the sea. Miss Safford, V.A.D. London/128, who is in charge, is very happy and interested in her work and reported that she considered the Club was much appreciated in the district. She and her helper make all the cakes. They have a little kitchen garden which is well cared for by the men from an adjoining camp. Miss Safford evidently has the confidence of the Authorities and is able to procure a great deal of help which reacts upon the good of her guests.

     We lunched unexpectedly with the Convoy and I had the same food as the members. It was not as good as it should be and I consider that much could be done in many directions to add to the comfort and welfare of the Convoy. Commandant Batten was away but her deputy Miss Mellor is a very competent officer and a very delightful woman, and did all she could to enable me to see the actual conditions. The reports on the work of the Convoy are splendid. All the authorities agree in stating that our V.A.D. drivers have show a very high standard of efficiency not only in their driving but in the way they have revived engines which were in a very bad condition when they took over from the men. Miss d’Avigdor, who has lately inspected most of our Convoys in France, reports:

Organisation of Ambulance work: This is first rate all through. The work is well arranged and carried out efficiently by girls. The officers have the hardest time, and it is essential in this Convoy that they should have organising ability and thorough mechanical knowledge. I saw all at work with exception of Clunies and cannot say too much in praise of their patience and good temper.
Driving: Very good, more especially when carrying cases.
Mechanical knowledge of members: The School in England could do more to help in this, if given time. The girls are keen on their cars and each thinks hers is a good one. They are anxious to learn and should be encouraged – not to take their cars to pieces, but to be thorough on the daily work and careful as to oiling and greasing, tightness of nuts and bolts, before being sent out.
Cars: The majority are not good enough for serious cases. They have been enormously improved by constant attention on the part of the Section Leaders. More especially has Mellor given unremitting work in this direction. The so-called spare cars, which are used when any car breaks down are not fit for driving wounded – these spares are usually given to new members when they first come out, which makes the driving especially difficult for them. I cannot see, however, how it could be arranged otherwise, unless all the spares were scrapped. New cars would greatly help the work of the officers. The cars are well kept and a daily inspection takes place, but it is impossible, when working all day in the open, to make them look smart externally. The essentials for good running are given excellent attention. Bad petrol adds to the difficulties.
Office work: Is especially good.

Recommendations with regard to Motor work:
1. Better cars.
2. Workshop for girls, where those who liked could receive instruction in soldering, screw-making, use of lathe. This to be voluntary and not compulsory. If possible lectures on electricity.
3. An adequate supply of proper tools in good condition for every car. These are at present seriously deficient, and it is quite essential better jacks and pumps and other tools should be provided. At present girls are seriously handicapped if they do not bring out complete outfit of their own.

     Not being an expert I hesitate to express an opinion on the technical side but I was immensely struck by the straight lines of their Park and by the outside smartness of their cars and the cleanliness and ‘shininess’ of such engines as I looked at. The members seem to bear the strain well. That it is a great strain on the nerves there is no doubt. The work is ‘jumpy’ – they may have to take very serious cases to hospitals three miles away through woods at night. They often drive long distances with cases – even as far as to Rouen. They sometimes carry Kaffirs or German prisoners as patients. The men when in pain or delirium may scream or even try to get off their stretchers. It is not always possible to send an Orderly or a second member. Our women face these difficulties and can often soothe a refractory patient and comfort him with her confidence so that he is quiet till he reaches his destination. The members look after their own cars and do all their own small repairs and unlimited praise is due both to them and their officers for the way in which they have faced the conditions and have shown untiring devotion to their work. I beg particularly to commend both Commandant Batten V.A.D. Somerset/74 and Assistant Commandant Mellor V.A.D. London/268 for the amazing way in which they started their Convoy during one of the big rushes and never failed.
     A Sick Bay is attached to the Convoy. This and the Home side of the Formation require alteration in administration. Our Principal Commandant in France and I consider a trained nurse to be necessary for the Sick Bay and a Welfare Supervisor for the general comfort of the Convoy and these I hope to appoint.

     Hostel for relatives. Commandant Pugh Jones V.A.D. Carnarvon/30 has achieved a very high standard of comfort and efficiency in this Formation. She was away but Miss Waller V.A.D. London/146 was ably maintaining the high reputation of the V.A.D.s. Everything seemed to be well cared for and all the members looked particularly smart and well. The work of this Unit requires real courage. In one day six relatives lost the men they had come out to see. Our hostel ensures their sadness being tempered by kindness. A mother and baby were there – the baby being petted and spoilt by all the nurses and V.A.D.s. Our officers were prepared to provide the baby with a bottle, nothing coming as a surprise to V.A.D.s! Miss Baird V.A.D. Lanark/10, who drives the car, is renowned for her unselfish aid to the relatives when meeting them or taking them to the boat.

     Mrs. Hill V.A.D. Leicester/14, has taken over Princess Victoria’s Club. Our members no longer sleep in tents on the sand dunes but now have cubicles which are infinitely preferable, especially in winter-time. The Club seemed to be well kept and was very bright and cheery and must be a real boon to the Sisters and V.A.D.s.

     We have lately provided General Service members for this Hospital and both the C.O. and the Matron were loud in their praise. Our Head Cook, Miss Hughes V.A.D. Derby/10, had her kitchens and stores in perfect order. Everything possible has been done for the comfort of the General Service members. They have their own quarters in huts with bathrooms attached. Colonel Raw said the best day’s work he ever did was exchanging men for General Service V.A.D. members.

     The V.A.D.s seem to be doing very excellent work here and they appear to be quite happy. Matron reported that she was very pleased with them. The Carrol treatment demands untiring attention and as very severe cases are received, the work is heavy and strenuous, but they all looked well and particularly cheerful.

     This was only just open. Miss Hulme V.A.D. London/88, who was in charge had not had time to settle down and seemed to be somewhat overwhelmed by her job.

     Hostel for relatives. Miss Lynde, V.A.D. London/128, had only just opened her house which promises to do excellent and typical V.A.D. work, being in the hands of a very faithful right-spirited V.A.D., with all our Ideals in her heart.

     Commandant F. Barber, V.A.D. London/146, has maintained a very high standard of efficiency. She has produced lovely flower beds and a delightful sitting room and works untiringly for the interest and amusement of the men. She deserves a great deal of praise for the admirable way in which she worked. Owing to the difficulties in obtaining stores she has had great difficulty in providing the extras the men like. She and her staff cook huge supplies of stewed fruit and custard which are much appreciated. They had lovely flowers in the hut.

     Commandant Davenport, V.A.D. London/4, devoted her energy to making her Recreation Room attractive to the men. Being new to the work in France she has not yet quite realised all that is possible but she is developing fast, and her Hut was evidently much appreciated. The kitchen and stores were in perfect order. Mrs. Buckle, V.A.D. Surrey/66, is to be congratulated on her garden which is full of flowers and which must be a real comfort to eyes tired of mud and khaki.

     We lunched there. The food was not as well cooked as it might be and the service was slow. The V.A.D. members were keen and active but required more help. They are very tidy and well uniformed.

     A subsidiary Rest Station to Boulogne. Miss Eyre Smith, V.A.D. Beds/4, in charge with one member to help her. Everything was in perfect order waiting for work which never comes except in the case of accidents on the line. This station deserves great praise for the way it retains its high standards during months of idleness. The billets in a neighbouring French house were very comfortable with a particularly nice French woman to look after them.

     Miss Hunnybun, V.A.D. Huntingdon/10 is evidently a really first class V.A.D. member and very keen about her work. She has quite confidently taken over the welfare of the women and had made every possible preparation to provide for their comfort in case of sickness. She was overjoyed when the Principal Commandant promised to indent for extra equipment to ensure that her Sick Bay should be really perfect. The serious and unselfish way in which she was facing her duty was very inspiring.

     Princess Victoria’s Club. Mrs. Saunders, V.A.D. London/146, who is in charge of this, promises to make a very perfect resting place for Sisters and V.A.D.s. She has only just started. The Club is beautifully decorated and is situated in a very delightful house with a garden. The membership is already a large one.

     Commandant Buxton, V.A.D. Essex/6, was only just taking over and the Rest Station was not up to its old standard. Conditions surrounding it have changed considerably and it requires certain alterations to bring it into line. It has had but little work with ambulance trains, but the small ward fills a very definite want and daily sick inspection is held in the Dispensary. It is kinder not to report on the conditions of the Rest Station until Commandant Buxton has had time to organise it in her own lines. I am convinced that we should take great risks of failing the sick and wounded in emergency if the Rest Station was closed. The food at lunch was excellent and ample. Miss Nicholl, V.A.D. Sussex/2, is to be commended for taking over under difficulties and for having carried on until the new O.C. arrived.

     We have only one General Service V.A.D. member working as a clerk – Miss H. M. Vesey Brown, V.A.D. London/190. She was tidy and quiet and evidently working well for our good name.

     This is in charge of Mrs. Gordon Brown, V.A.D. London/284, who is running it quite admirably. She does the cooking and the housework and even part of the laundry with the help of one V.A.D. member and a French woman. The rooms are delightful and very comfortable and there is a nice garden at the back. One hears good accounts of the comfort of the members who are billeted there.

     Miss Beart, V.A.D. Huntingdon/10 is in charge. Another typical V.A.D. member of the pre-war type. She was busy stripping the walls of 3 very grubby rooms in order to prepare them as her Sick Bay. Principal Commandant offered the help of another V.A.D. and a man Orderly. I went again a few days later and found her 3 rooms newly papered, all the woodwork painted and the floors polished. Her little Dispensary fitted with every possible necessity and her 2 wards in perfect order. The Red Cross Stores had supplied her with equipment and she was evidently ready for all emergency. The Unit Administrator could not speak too highly of Miss Beart’s kindness, energy and competence and said that all the women loved her.

     We arrived quite unexpectedly and walking round a corner found the drivers at their Ambulances. They were all in absolutely correct uniform or overalls and nothing could have been smarter or more delightful from an Inspector’s point of view. Miss Kinloch, V.A.D. London/198, was away, and Smith Cuninghame, V.A.D. London/128 and Bower Cooke, V.A.D. Cheshire/136, were in charge. We went over their billets in a very comfortable flat where an admirable G.S. member looked after their comfort. This Unit is to be congratulated upon its loyalty and trustworthiness alone in Paris. Two V.A.D. clerks were working in the Canadian Office and appeared to be in every way satisfactory.

     Sister Earle, V.A.D. London/128, is in charge. She has perfected her little hospital to such an extent that there seems to be no room for improvement. She has developed it adding day rooms and V.A.D. sitting-rooms and various store rooms and is now providing for a bathroom. The spirit of this Unit can best be expressed by the statement of a Medical Officer passing through Boulogne:
The influence of your little hospital at Gournay is felt over a 200 mile radius among the A.V.C. men.
Sister Earle and her second, Sister Neale, V.A.D. London/128, were both trained nurses belonging to a Detachment before the war and have shown the most wonderful loyalty and enthusiasm throughout.

     Commandant Disraeli, V.A.D. London/96, was away but Sister Watkins and Miss Walker, V.A.D. London/248, showed us everything. The latter has acted as cook since the opening of Forges in 1915 and is renowned as a first class member. The Unit is handicapped by the fact that the French owner of the house and his family insist on staying there and live in the upper part of the house. They also retain cellars, etc., so that V.A.D.s can never really carry out all the improvements they would like. The Hospital has a very high record of good work.

     The V.A.D. Rest Station here is admirable. Miss Anderson, V.A.D. London/116, who is in charge has kept up the fine reputation of the V.A.D.s. She and another member living there in a tiny cottage doing all doing all their own cooking and house-work and meeting all Ambulance and reinforcement trains. They tend accidents and provide food to Sick and Wounded and as usual with the V.A.D.s ‘fill all gaps.’ Lately a huge convalescent camp has set itself down beside them so their work will develop. The O.C. Camp has asked them to attend his Sick Bay every day to make beds and provide the finish which only a woman knows how to secure. A huge Red Cross Recreation Room is being erected and will be staffed by V.A.D.s, added to Miss Anderson’s Unit. The O.C. could not speak too highly of the V.A.D. members on whom he evidently depended for help in every direction for the good of his men.

     Commandant Campion V.A.D. Sussex/84, has here won an undying reputation for kindliness, loyalty and a wonderful taste and sense of beauty. She helps the many relatives of seriously wounded Officers who find a very warm welcome at the Hostel. Her Unit shows the very best spirit. She and 2 other members of her staff have lately taken up their abode in three rooms which would not often be considered luxurious. One reason they give for preferring this is that they can see the stars over the courtyard. Undoubtedly the V.A.D.s must be allowed and encouraged to provide and develop their own happiness and health. After 3 years of war they long for certain reactions from the old conventions and they rebel against the formalities. Miss Campion shows this more than most people and as a result of her influence is felt throughout the V.A.D.s of the Rouen district and they go to her for refreshment of mind when weary in body and soul.

     This has lately been established by the V.A.D.s but was taken over by Princess Victoria’s fund and is still staffed by V.A.D.s. Miss Walter, V.A.D. London/128 is in charge. She has plenty of scope as Rouen is a large centre and the Sisters and V.A.D.s have long needed a club.

     Mrs. Anthony, V.A.D. Sussex/40, is in charge. She watches over the health of several W.A.A.C. Units. When we visited her Sick Bay the M.O. was holding a medical inspection so that we did not see over and I had not time to go again.

     Commandant Worthington, V.A.D. Sussex/78, maintains the good reputation of her post-office at B.R.C.S. Headquarters and is unremitting in her endeavour to add to the efficiency. She is a particularly loyal and helpful officer.

     We attended the opening of the Red Cross Hut. Miss Lampson, V.A.D. London/128, who will be in charge has been out in France for a long time and is delighted to have a chance of organising a V.A.D. Unit, and will do her best to make it a success.

     Miss Lea, V.A.D. Hereford/4, in charge. She has a very nice tiny house with a big balcony and should be able to provide a very pleasant resting place for tired or sick W.A.A.C. members. She has not quite realised the possibilities or grasped the importance of the work and has not yet produced the atmosphere which is usual in our V.A.D. Units.

     We slept at the Villa Orphée, a Convalescent Home for sick nurses and V.A.D.s. Lady Victoria de Trafford, V.A.D. Warwick/2, as a Commandant is very energetic and keen. The house is quite delightful with a big verandah and shady garden overlooking the most beautiful view.

     Below it was the Villa des Roses which has lately been opened as a Convalescent Home for W.A.A.C. members. Miss Gregory White, V.A.D. Beds/10, will be Quartermaster in charge. She will have a wonderful opportunity of cosseting women who will love the change from very bare conditions to the luxury of a very delightful French Villa. V.A.D. members do the cooking and housework and seem to be happy and well.

     Their quarters are as good as any V.A.D. quarters, though said to be cold in winter. They have a big garden surrounding their villa. Commandant Heyworth, V.A.D. Kent/74, is in charge. The house was very tidy the day I saw over it. The cars looked clean and well cared for and the drivers have a splendid reputation for doing their work well. There seems to be a certain amount of restlessness in this Unit due perhaps to the members having been together in close quarters for a very long time. I was sorry that there was not more intercourse between the Units in Etretat. It may lead to gossip and possibly to friction, but if the Officers are wise this can be avoided and the members could all gain by making friends.

     We have lately started a nucleus of a large Motor Convoy here. Miss Temple, V.A.D. Devon/48, who will be in charge had only 2 drivers with her but was expecting 9 more. They are living temporarily in a Pension as no hutting is up yet. Miss Temple should make a very able administrator.
     Owing to my being recalled on the first occasion from Rouen to Boulogne, and on the second from Trouville to London, I was unable to visit 2 B.R.C.S. Hospital or the Motor Convoy at Le Treport. I also missed the F. A. Unit at Dunkirk and Recreation Room at 6 Convalescent Camp. I should like to lay great stress on the wonderful development of V.A.D. work by Miss Rachel Crowdy our Principal Commandant in France. She now has some 40 separate Units of Joint Committee members all of whom do us much credit. She is unfailing in her anxiety for their welfare and has shown great tact in administration and is universally respected by all the Authorities and seems to be popular with her officers and members. Her office at B.R.C.S. Headquarters, Boulogne, is renowned for its business-like arrangements. Owing to the immense increase in the Joint Committee work, Miss Crowdy considers it necessary to add to her administrative staff and is arranging for this at present.

     I should like to report on the splendid driving of Miss Figgis, V.A.D. Co.Dublin/24, who is the Principal Commandant’s chauffeur. She drove us on tour and showed real endurance and great self confidence. I had doubted whether a woman could face the long journeys, but after this tour I realise a woman can face almost anything! We had to hurry back and Figgis brought us from Trouville to Boulogne in 6 hours, a distance of some 170 miles with a heavy car. I consider that when on tour it is advisable to take a probationer driver in case of tyre changing etc.

     The general impression left on my mind after nearly a month in France is that infinitely more is done for the welfare of V.A.D.s over there than at home. The unpaid members have all their expenses paid including medical attendance, hospital accommodation, dental treatment, etc. There are clubs in all large centres and their hostels and billets are in most cases good. The spirit of the V.A.D.s in our own Units is magnificent.

     I am very sad about the irregularity of uniform among the Military Members. It is the exception if one sees a member in regulation uniform. Many of them have taken to low necked blouses, wearing them with collars over coat collars and no ties. They have their jackets made in any style they prefer and in many other small details they show a lack of loyalty which is, I am afraid, merely an outward and visible sign of something very sinister. Owing to our inability to do anything for them they feel that we have cut them adrift and that they own but little allegiance to their parent bodies. This should be remedied without delay or the movement will grow and we shall lose our cohesion and thereby lose our strength. I beg again to recommend very strongly that every Matron should have a senior V.A.D. member who will be responsible to us for all details from the V.A.D. point of view.

     One is beginning to see V.A.D. members going about much more freely not only with officers but with men. They still have the most excellent name among the authorities for behaviour, but I consider that owing to the Regulations for the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps being less strict in some directions than our own, it will be very necessary to be ever more particular in the future about the behaviour of V.A.D. members. Good behaviour and proper wearing of uniform can best be obtained by influence and example and not by rules and regulations. Military and Red Cross Matrons do not really know the details of our uniform and members are apt to say ‘Devonshire House said I might wear it.’ In addition to this, Matrons have not always the same Ideals for our Organisation as we have. I consider that we ought to be empowered to do more for the welfare and control of all V.A.D. members both at home and abroad.

1 August 1917

Source: Imperial War Museum Women's Work Collection: BRCS 12.2/4