A First World War V.A.D. Mascot : A Very Adaptable Dame. Courtesy/© of Heather Anne Johnson.

A First World War V.A.D. Mascot : A Very Adaptable Dame.
Courtesy/© of Heather Anne Johnson.

Temporary Home Auxiliary Hospitals were set up when the First World War began, in readiness for wounded men arriving from “the Front”.  The buildings were offered free of charge and included such places as schools; town halls; village halls; hotels; convalescence homes; all manner of private residences; and wards set aside in civilian hospitals.

Some financial subsistence filtered down to each establishment e.g. in early 1916, for the Essex Convalescent Home in Clacton-on-Sea, “The Red Cross Society were paying 3s. per night per head; this paid the cost of provisions, but did not, of course, pay for salaries and upkeep of buildings and garden”.  However, that said, many owners of the properties actually funded their hospital 100% e.g. Ipswich’s ‘Broadwater Auxiliary Hospital’ was one such example of this generosity.

Auxiliary hospitals were affiliated to Central Military Hospitals – in the case of the hospitals researched here, it is the General Military Hospital in Colchester.

At the beginning of the War, the British Red Cross and the Order of St John of Jerusalem joined forces to form the ‘Joint War Committee’ – under the control of the War Office and Admiralty.

The following letter was received by The Royal Victoria Hospital in Sunderland, from the War Office. No doubt, all hospitals around the British Isles received such letters:

“Madam,  I shall be gratefully obliged if in the event of your having a surplus of nurses belonging to your present nursing staff who would be available for service, you would kindly inform me of the fact, as I am desirous of knowing where I can procure reliable nurses at short notice.  This supply would be additional to the nurses already guaranteed by your hospital to the War Office, and should not include any army nurses who are not actually with you at present, as I am already in correspondence with many who were formerly in your training school.  E.H. Betcher, Matron-in-Chief QAIMNS [Queen Alexandria’s Imperial Medical Nursing Service]”  Extract taken from ‘Sunderland in the Great War’ By Clive Dunn, Gillian Dunn (page 18).

Where civilian/general hospitals set aside wards for wounded soldiers (e.g. the Essex County Hospital in Colchester), soldiers would be cared for by ‘Civilian Hospital Certificated Trained Nurses’.   In 1914, there were no official standards for nurse training in Great Britain – but the majority of women spent two or three years training in a general hospital.

Friday, 14 August 1914, Essex County Chronicle [sic]:

THE CRY FOR HELP.  The County Organising.   Numerous Patriotic Offers.  Care of the Wounded. “A Willing Helper Does Not Wait To Be Called.”

Essex is always to the fore to answer the cry for help, and she is at one with the nation in the intention to do everything that is necessary for the suffering and distress which the war must unfortunately incur. … … …


The voluntary Aid (Red Cross) Detachments in Essex have responded nobly to the call of their country, and the Essex Branch of the British Red Cross Society now consists of 73 Voluntary Aid Detachments with a personnel of about 2,000 of whom some three-fourths are women.   Three of the detachments are formed from the St. John Ambulance Brigade.  For organising purposes the county is divided into divisions corresponding generally with the police divisions of the county.  The Countess of Warwick is president of the branch, and Col. R. B. Colvin, C.B., is the county director.  Each division is controlled by a vice-president and assistant managing director.  The offices of the Branch are now at 74 Duke Street, Chelmsford, with Col. G. H. Coleman, V.D., as hon. Secretary, it being felt that Chelmsford is a more convenient centre than Colchester.

The Voluntary Aid Detachments are officially inspected annually by an officer from the R.A.M.C., who reports to the War Office.  Most of the inspections for this year have taken place, and the reports in all cases have been very good, testifying to the zeal and energy which have been so conspicuous in all ranks of the organisation.

Since the commencement of the war many generous offers of private houses, institutions, and other buildings for use either as hospitals or convalescent homes have been made, and in many instances steps have been take to equip some of these buildings at short notice.  Among the private houses that have been offered are the following:-

Easton Lodge, Dunmow (Earl and Countess of Warwick).

Terling (Lord and Lady Rayleigh)

Hylands (Sir Daniel and Lady Gooch)

Thorpe Hall

Birch Hall, Theydon Bois, accommodation unlimited.

Sewardstone Lodge, Waltham Abbey.

In and near Huskards, Ingatestone (Major and Mrs. Hilder), 55 beds.

The following have also been placed at the disposal of the branch:-

Severalls Asylum, Colchester, accommodation from 270.

Middlesex Hospital, Clacton, 90.

Messrs. Cooper, Tabor, and Co., a large building at Witham, with three floors, to hold 200 beds.

The hall of the Essex and Suffolk Fire Office at Colchester.

Riggs’ Retreat, Theydon.

West Ham Hospital, 50 beds.

Great Bardfield Council School, 40 to 50.

Isolation Hospital, Grays, 40 to 50.

Southend St. Saviour’s Popular Retreat, hospital or convalescent, about 50.

Great Bentley Council School, 50.

Copford Church and Schoolrooms, 50.

It is safe to say that already accommodation can be found for 2,000 patients in the county, and offers continue to come in.  The Council Schools will not be used except where absolutely necessary, with a view to continuing unrestricted the education of the children.

As already mentioned, the G.E.R. Hotel at Harwich has been requisitioned as a hospital, and the Essex No, 33 Detachment (men), under Mr. Etherden, late of the Essex Yeomanry, and the Essex 84 (women), under Mrs. Brooks, are now employed, 120 beds having been prepared.

At Wivenhoe a 12-bedded rest-station has been prepared, and the local detachment, under Miss Dewhurst, has been mobilised.

During the concentration of the East Anglian Division a  temporary hospital, containing 20 beds, has been formed at Brentwood Grammar School, with the local detachment, under Mrs. Ravenhill, in charge, and several cases, some of a serious nature, have been treated.

A depot will shortly be formed at Chelmsford, where voluntary contributions, in the shape of stores and clothes will be collected.  Contributions should be addressed to the Secretary, Essex Branch, B.R.C.S., 74 Duke Street, Chelmsford.”

Home/Auxiliary Hospitals usually had the following staff:  

Commandant: A Commandant was in charge of everything apart from the medical and nursing services.

Quartermaster: A Quartermaster was responsible for the provision store (receiving; storing; and distribution of all items)

Matron: A Matron supervised all members of the nursing staff.

Trained Nurses:  Many trained nurses (some with the full three years’ training which met War Office standards), chose to work for the British Red Cross Society or the Order of St. John/St. John’s Cross.  Nurses under St. John’s Cross were recognised by “JC” against their name on a British Red Cross card.

Members of local voluntary aid detachments: Detachments were already in existence before the war, having been set up in 1909 to provide voluntary nursing services “in the field”.  The members were two thirds women, who had to study for certificates in Home Nursing and First Aid during their first year as a pre-war V.A.D. member.    A VAD member became affectionately known as a “VAD” – they had to be between 21 & 48 yrs of age for Home Service.

Many local women volunteered either on full or part-time basis.  There were, of course, non-nursing roles to fill too e.g. cooks; ward maids; cleaners; etc.  The majority of volunteers gave their services free but, occasionally, a fee was given.  Medical service at a hospital was provided by local doctors who generously gave their time.

The patients who were admitted to these hospitals were, on the whole, either not badly wounded or came from the military hospital for convalescence. The www.redcross.org.uk  states “servicemen preferred the auxiliary hospitals to military hospitals because they were not so strict”.   The homely environment at the Auxiliary Hospitals would be a welcome contrast to the regimental regime of a military hospital.

Caring for soldiers did not cease when the Armistice was declared on 11 November 1918.  The First World War did not officially end until the Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28 June 1919. Thus, some volunteer cards show the person “still working” into 1919.

Wherever possible (where an identification is 100% positive) a short profile will be written on the person – in the hope of giving an insight into the people who were caring and the people who were being cared for – these will be continually added.

N.B. Many women came via the British Red Cross Lexden & Winstree Division – Miss Sibyl Mary Round was Vice-President and Commandant.  The British Red Cross has the name “Raund” in their documentation – it appears spelled this way on many BRC volunteer cards but, in the interest of accuracy, the name “Round” will/should replace it on this site.

Working parties and work depots:

When the First War One began, the Red Cross set up local working parties all around Great Britain. Local women became members.  The Working Parties organised supplies of hospital clothing, which included blankets; belts; socks; shirts; etc for the soldiers.  Additionally, the women made essential hospital equipment such as clothing; bandages, splints and swabs.

Work depots were established in major towns/cities to gather up and dispatch clothing etc from the working parties.  All the articles were sent to Red Cross headquarters or direct to soldiers in the auxiliary hospitals – both at home and abroad.  One such Depot was at St. Martin’s House in West Stockwell Street, Colchester – it was also a Home Dressing Station.



Silver “Hospital Blues” spoon. Courtesy/© Heather Anne Johnson.

Silver “Hospital Blues” spoon. Courtesy/© Heather Anne Johnson.

This is a scarce World War One fundraising spoon: its handle’s enamelled top depicts a wounded and/or sick First World War soldier in his “Hospital Blues” uniform – he is holding a stick and wearing a Silver War Badge.  The Silver War Badge was issued to service men (in Great Britain and the British Empire) who had been honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness from military service in the World War One.

The reverse of the spoon is impressed with silver hallmarks for Sheffield and 1917; maker’s details “CB&S” (Cooper Brothers & Sons, Sheffield); and “Rd 651069” (Registered design number, which has the patent date of 1915.  The length of spoon is 127mm.

Images of another identical spoon have been seen but this bears Birmingham hallmarks for 1915-16 (date letter q), with the mark for Liberty & Company (L&Co).  Liberty & Co. was founded by Arthur Lasemby Liberty in 1875.  In 1894 the firm became Liberty & Co Ltd.  It was Arthur L. Liberty who, in 1875, founded the retail shop ‘Liberty & Co’ in Regent Street, London.

It has been found reported that the spoons were made to raise funds for the ‘Injured Veterans Fund’ or ‘National Veterans’ Fund’ – this may have been The Prince of Wales National Relief Fund – which was inaugurated on 7 August 1914.

Mayors and Councils played an important part in this National Relief Fund, by creating their own local committees to raise funds, which ‘fed’ the National Fund.  By the end of May 1915, the total amount raised for the Fund had reached £5,150,000.


Colchester Sick and Wounded Soldiers’ Comforts Committee

The Essex Regiments’ Comfort Fund

The object of the Comfort Fund, and the subsequent Comfort Committees that were formed, was to raise funds for providing comforts for sick and wounded soldiers in the district.

Colchester Sick and Wounded Soldiers’ Comforts Committee. 10 April 1919. The wind-up Dinner given by the chairman, Councillor A. J. Lucking. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

Colchester Sick and Wounded Soldiers’ Comforts Committee. 10 April 1919. The wind-up Dinner given by the chairman, Councillor A. J. Lucking. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

Friday 24 December 1915, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:  SUNDAY CONCERT

A concert was given at the Hippodrome on Sunday evening with the object of raising funds for providing comforts for sick and wounded soldiers in the district.  There was a crowded audience.”

Saturday 15 January 1916, Essex Newsman [sic]:


The Hon. Mrs. Alwyne Greville, in her report upon the Essex Regiments’ Comfort Fund for the past year, allows that 34,850 articles of clothing and comfort were sent out, and 213,420 cigarettes. How deeply these gifts were appreciated is told in many letters of acknowledgment. The subscriptions for the year came £977 5s. 2d. In clothing there was spent £184 11s. 5d. in comforts, £268 7s. 2 1/2d.; in smokes (including pipes), £137 16s. 6d.; in sundries, £32 2s.; packing expenses. £13 17s. 8 1/2d.; railway freights, £32 7s. 10d.; stationery, £1 12s.; stamps, 18s. 2d.; rent (proportion of), £6 10s.; and there remains a balance in hand of £299 2s. 4d.”

Friday 18 August 1916, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:

“ESSEX REGIMENTS’ COMFORTS’ FUND. SUMMARY TO DATE, August 17th, 1916. Totals at present received from Divisions:- 

Chelmsford …  £493 14 1

Colchester …  £401 4 7

Beacontree …  £329 11 0

Brentwood …  £74 17 1

Dunmow …  £88 14 5

Maldon and Dengie …  £142 4 1

Epping and Harlow (complete) …  £333 7 7

Grays (complete) …  £103 14 6

Hinckford (complete) …  £244 19 1

Ongar (complete) …  £160 7 6

Romford (complete) …  £247 7 2

Rochford (complete) …  £215 5 1

Saffron Walden (complete) …  £112 18 5

Thorpe (complete) …  £20 2 4

Witham …  £153 18 8

[Total]  £3,122 5 7

MABEL GREVILLE, Hon. Sec. 84 High Street, Chelmsford. Aug. 17. 1916.”

Friday 11 August 1916, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:


THE following is the FIRST LIST OF RESULTS of the ESSEX FLAG DAYS for the ESSEX REGIMENTS’ COMFORTS’ FUND. There are other sums to come, which will be duly acknowledged in similar fashion. They are all received with gratitude in the name of the brave Essex men, for whom they are to provide the things which they require on the various battle-fronts — things requisitioned for by the Commanding Officer… for the needs of their men, and sent to them the name of the people their county.

MABEL GREViLLE, Hon. Sec. Danbury Park, Chelmsford, August 9, 1916.


Totals at present received from Divisions:

Witham … £153 18s. 8d.

Thorpe … £20 2s. 4d.

Saffron Walden … £111 18s. 5d.

Rochford (without Southend) … £71 9s. 6d.

Hinckford … £244 19s. 6d.

Epping and Harlow … £333 7s. 7d.

Dunmow … £76 18s. 11d.

Colchester and Harwich (without Colchester) … £398 1s. 5d.

Ongar … £160 7s. 6d.Grays … £103 14s. 6d.

Maldon … £142 4s. 1d.Chelmsford … £479 9s. 6d.

Brentwood (without Brentwood,  Gt. Warley, etc.) … £71 13s. 1d.

DETAILS. … … Chelmsford Division Brentwood Division

Maldon Division.—(Per Mr. W. Ives, hon. sec.): Maldon. Heybridge, Latchingdon, Bradwell-on-Sea. Woodham Mortimer (Mrs. Krohn). £142 4s. 1d. Burnham-on-Crouch, collection later. … …  Crays Divison 

Colchester Division.—Birch and district, per Mrs. Round. £10 5s. 6d.; Tendring and district, per Miss Cooper, £11 18s. 7d.; Wormingford and district, per Honble. Mrs. Stirling, £18 35.; Earls and district, per Mrs. Grimston. £35 9s.; Harwich and district, per Mrs. Saunders. £123; Alphamstone and district, per Mrs. Ernest Marriott. 15s., Marks Tey and district, per Mrs. Steele. £12 5s.; Great Bromley and district, per Mrs. Hirst, £9 8s. 3d.; Mistley and district, per Miss E. Hempson, £13 18s. 3d.; Copford and district, per Mrs. Ruck Keene, £14 6s.; per Mrs. Edwards. £22 4s. 6d.; Dedham, per Mr. W. W. Hewitt, £13 19s.; Ardleigh, per Mrs. Wilson. £10 13s. 9d.; Wivenhoe, per Mrs. Barlow. £33 18s. 3d.; Wigborough, per Miss Hutley. £3 10s.; Brightlingsea, per Mrs. Dickin, £23 6s.; Lawford, per Mrs. Richardson, £12 1s. 5d.; Manningtree, per Mrs. Ley, £5 19s. 2d.; Boxted, per Mrs. Scragg, £4 14s.; St Osyth. per Mrs. Croft. £11 16s. 9d. Total £398 1s. 5d. Little Bentley, Bradfield. The Layers (2). and Colchester to come. … …

Beacontree Division … Dunmow Divison … Epping and Harlow Division 

Hinckford Division.—Halstead, per Mrs. S. A. Courtauld, £55 5s. 4d.; Braintree and district, per Mrs. Marriott, £95; Gestingthorpe and district per Miss M. Barnardiston, £17 2s.; Foxearth and district, per Mrs. Carpenter. £12 13s. 3d.; Steeple and district, per Dr. Bartlett, £15 5s. 4d.: Great and Little Maplestead, per Mrs. Gosling, £3 6s. 4d.; Toppesfield and district, per Mr. J. F. Benson. £28 12s 4d.; Sible Hedingham, per Miss Sparrow. £8; Castle Hedingham, per Miss Twist, £9 14s. 6d. Total for Division: £244 19s. 1d. … …

Rochford DivisionSaffron Walden Divison

Thorpe Division.—Weeley, per Miss Weeley, £7 3s.; Great Holland, per Rev. F. Beadel, £4 13s.; Kirby Cross, per Mr. Maurice Baker, £8 6s. 4d. Total: £20 2s. 4d.

Witham Division.— Coggeshall and district, per Mrs. Reginald Hill, £59 3s. 2d.; Hatfield Peverel and district, per Mrs. H. Zoeto, £21 8s. 7d.; Wickham Bishops, per Mrs. Cooper. £24 6s.; BraxU-d, per Mrs. Boulton, £6; Rivenhall and district, per Mrs. Bradhurst, £12 12s. 6d.; Inworth and district, per Mrs Ide, £7 1s. 8d.; Tolleshunt D’Arcy and District, per Mrs. Binney £17 9s. 3d.; proceeds concert given by 1st Goldhanger Troop Sea Scouts £3 7s. 9d.: Faulkbourne Church offertory, per Mrs. C. Parker, 7s. 3d.; Salcot, per Mrs. Smith, 2s. 6d. Total: £153 13s. 8d.  

Articles sent out to July 31,1916—7 months:-

1,558 Shirts, etc.

4, 760 Socks.

4,106 Handkerchiefs.

2,867 Soap.

5,396 Stationery.

2,568 Sweets and Chocolate, lbs. 1,192 Soup, etc. (Tins).

2,751 Pipes, etc. 1,216 Cocoa and Milk. 1,275 Towels.

2,609 Drinks (Cooling). 1,350 Bootlaces.

1,606 Sundries.

423,850 Cigarettes.

Total 456,504.”

Friday 13 April 1917, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:


Sunday afternoon a concert was held in connection with the Colchester Sick and Wounded Soldiers’ Comforts Committee at the Moot Hall. By kind permission of Col. Carlebach, T.D., and officers, the band of the City of London (Royal Fusiliers) furnished the principal attraction on the programme. Madame Jessie Steele (the Guildford soprano) gave charming renderings  of “Dream of Hope.” “There’s an old fashioned town.” “Love’s Own Kiss,” and “The Rosary.” while Corpl. Patten had to respond for his song, “Nivana.”  Pt. Jack Rickards (late of the Follies) sang humorous selections. Pt. Harry Hayward, at the piano, and Sergt. H. Pinfold, evoked much merriment with their speciality duets, “Sing us an English song” and “You can’t do without it.””

Friday 27 July 1917, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:


THE following is the FIRST LIST OF RESULTS of the ESSEX FLAGDAYS for the ESSEX REGIMENTS’ COMFORTS FUND. There are other sums to come, which will be duly acknowledged in similar fashion. They are all received with gratitude in the name of the brave Essex men, for whom they are to provide the things which they require on the various battle-fronts—things requisitioned for by the Commanding Officers for the needs of their men, and sent to them in the name of the people of their county. 

MABEL GREVILLE, Hon. Sec. Danbury Park, July 26th, 1917.


Totals at present received from Divisions:

Colchester …                      £328  7s  9d

Chelmsford …                    £255  1s  6d 

Dunmow …                        £56  1s  10d

Brentwood …                    £35  7s  2d

Hinckford …                       £33  2s  5d

Saffron Walden …           £31  17s  9d

Rochford …                        £30  3s  2d

Witham …                          £16  14s  8d

Epping …                            £7  0s  9d  …  

Chelmsford Division …  Hinckford Division …  Epping Division …  Rochford Division …  Saffron Walden Division 

Colchester Division.- Wigborough, per Miss Hutley, £1 14s. 1d.; Bradfield per Miss Pat- trick, £5 17s. 6d Layer-de-la-Haye, per Miss Wilkinson, £1 10s. 6d.; Layer Marney, per Miss Wilkinson. £1; Mersea, per Mrs. Pierre- pont Edwards, £23 2s. 8d.; Brightlinsea, perMrs. Dickin, £23 2s. 3d.; Wormingford, per Hon. Mrs. Stirling, £2 12s. 10d.; Mount Bures, per Hon. Mrs. Stirling. 15s. 9d.; Bures Hamlet, per Hon. Mrs. Stirling, £2 12s. 6d.; Great and Little Horkesley, per Hon. Mrs. Stirling, £5 4s.; Boxted, per Hon. Mrs. Stirling, £3  4s. 3d.; Langham, per Hon. Mrs. Stirling, £7 10s. 8d.; Dedham, per Mrs. Hewitt and Miss Saunders. £16 10s.; Harwich and district, per Mrs. Saunders. £127 9s. 11d.; Great Bromley, Frating and Eimstead, Mrs. Hirst, £17; Wivenhoe, Mrs. Barlow, £16 10s. 6d.; Earls Colne, per Mrs. Grimston, £18 4s. 3d.; Wakes  Colne, per Mrs. Grimston, £3 2s. 8d.; White  Colne, per Mrs. Grimston, £1 0s. 11d. Total for Division. £328 7s. 9d.  

Witham Division. Faulkbourne (church collection), per Mrs. C. Parker, £2 19s. 4d.; Tolleshunt D’Arcy, per Mrs. Binney, £3 4s.;  Tolleshunt Knights, per Mrs. Binney, 17s  6d.; Tollesbury, per Mrs. Binney, £6 10s. 10d.; Goldhanger, per Mrs. Binney, £1 9s.; Great Totham, per Mrs. Binney, £1 14s. Total for Division, £16 14s. 8d. … …”

Chelmsford Chronicle  Friday 14 September 1917 [sic]:CONCERT DISTURBED.

–A concert of massed military bands was held in Colchester on Sunday afternoon.  A large and appreciative audience was present.   In the course of the concert a well-known tune from another source was received with much less favour, and led to a short postponement of the programme.  The audience and band quietly dispersed, but gathered together later, when the music was resumed.  Over £50 was obtained for the Sick and Wounded Soldiers’ Comfort Fund.”

Saturday 08 December 1917, Essex Newsman [sic]:

           “WAR FUND FRAUD.  Remarkable Case at Chelmsford.                

On Monday, at Chelmsford, before the Mayor (Cr. J. Gowers, J.P.), William Horace” Marjason, 21, a turner, formerly employed at the Hoffmann Works, Chelmsford, pleaded guilty to collecting alms by fraudulent pretence.—Mr. W. F. Arlidge, deputy clerk, said the charge was brought under the Vagrancy Act.  

Mr. William E. Poole. Rainsford Avenue, Chelmsford, said that on Wednesday accused came into his shop and handed him a list. Witness noticed the name of Mr. Bragg, Scoutmaster, and that the money was for the Essex Regiment Cigarette Fund. Witness had no conversation with prisoner, but, seeing the cause, entered his name on the sheet and gave prisoner 2s. 6d.  At witness’s private residence a week before a similar List was brought to him by the maid and he gave 2s. Mr. and Mrs. Manning, who were spending the evening at the house, also gave 2s.   

P.s. Cameron made inquiries respecting complaints of money being obtained by false pretences, and on Saturday visited 10 Queen Street, Chelmsford, where he saw prisoner. Accused gave his name as William Marjason.  Witness said “I want you to come to the Police Station and see the Superintendent.” He said, “Very well,” and accompanied witness the station. There Supt. Mules said, “You answer a description of a young man who has been collecting money by fraud in aid the Essex Regiments’ Comforts Fund during the past fortnight.” Accused said, ‘I have not collected any money.” On being searched £11 10s. Treasury notes and about 8s. in silver was found in his possession. Asked if he wished to account for the money, prisoner said, “I drew it out of the Ilford Post Office Savings Bank about six weeks ago, and it is my own.” Witness went 10 Queen Street with Supt. Mules and was handed a bundle of workman’s clothes. Supt. Mules told prisoner, I am satisfied you are the man wanted, and you will charged with fraudulently collecting money for the Essex Regiments’ Comforts Fund.” Prisoner replied, “I never collected any money.” When in the cells prisoner said witness, “I want speak you privately,” and made the following statement: I was discharged from the Essex Regiment on Dec. 25, 1914. On April 26 I joined the London Scottish go to France.  After four months I was transferred to the A.S.C. at Aldershot.  I was put into the chaffing depot, and as I was suffering with asthma, about Sept. 20 I deserted to go back to my own work. I came to Chelmsford about a month ago and got employment in my trade. I worked for about three weeks, when I poisoned my finger. Dr. Newton told me not to work during the time. I went round the town collecting money in aid of the Essex Regts.’ Cigarette Fund, collecting about £5. The other money found on me is my own, and I want that to be sent to my mother, 16 Pelham Road, Ilford. I destroyed my collecting papers on Thursday night.” Witness added that on Thursday, in company with specials and others, made a search of Braemar Avenue in consequence of a complaint money being collected, but found no one.  Prisoner lodged in the vicinity.

Supt. Mules said there was no doubt prisoner was an absentee, and could not be allowed bail.

Accused was remanded to the Petty Session to-day, when he further pleaded guilty obtaining money from Messrs. S. J. Ballard, Bernard Smith, Fred. Collins, and W. A. Murrell.

Mr. Ballard said prisoner asked him for a subscription for a cigarette fund for Essex soldiers on behalf of Scoutmaster Bragg.  Witness cross-examined him. Prisoner said Mr Bragg was a busy man, and he (accused), having a day or two off with poisoned hand, was helping Mr. Bragg.   Witness gave him 2s.  6d., and should say there was from £15 to £17 on the sheets. Prisoner told his tale remarkably well, and passed through the test which witness applied.

Prisoner: There was nothing like the amount you state.  

Mr. Smith said prisoner asked him to contribute to the cigarette fund for Essex soldiers at the Front. Witness showed the list to his brother. The name Scoutmaster Bragg was at the top and prisoner was collecting for him. Witness and his brother each gave 2s. 6d.

Mr. Murrell said he did not take much notice of the sheets, and gave prisoner 2s.; Mr Collins also gave 2s.

P.s. Cameron added that prisoner had a discharged soldier’s badge, which he was entitled to wear.

Supt. Mules said prisoner’s discharge papers showed that he joined the Essex Regt. on Feb. 6, 1913, and was mobilised at the outbreak of war but was discharged as medically unfit on Dec. 25, 1914.  He then got a situation as a parcels’ clerk with the London, Tilbury, Southend Railway, and was charged with obtaining money false pretences in August, 1916, and was bound over for 12 months.

If appeared that he had added sums to amounts paid for carriage and had afterwards rubbed them off the sheet.   He then obtained employment at the Small Arms Factory, Enfield, where he remained until April, 1917, when he left, according to his story, to join the Navy.   He failed to pass, and on June 26 joined the London Scottish.  He was transferred to a labour centre, and was now an absentee.  By reason of his previous discharge from the Army he obtained employment at the Hoffmann works.  It was impossible to say what amount prisoner had collected. Some of the larger sums, such a guinea, were put down by prisoner, but the majority of the sums given were 2s. 6d., and a very large number had been collected. Some money and presents had been sent away to various people. Prisoner was a native of Widford, and was in private lodgings, and that resulted in difficulty in tracing him, a stranger being suspected. His father was dead, and his mother had married again and was living in Ilford. His landlady knew prisoner as a boy. At one house prisoner called he was told the police wanted him. It was that same night that he burned the list. In his bedroom was a weight on which was seccotine or gum and a piece of string, evidently for using to extract letters from letter boxes.  

Prisoner: That was the bedroom when I went there.

Supt. Mules said prisoner admitted being an absentee. It was largely owing to the astuteness of a servant at Mr. Pitts’, in Braemar Avenue, that prisoner was caught; she was native of Widford, and thought she recognised him.

Prisoner expressed his sorrow, and said he was quite willing for the money found to be given a Red Cross fund and to be bound over himself that he could have the chance of going to France.

The Bench passed sentence of two months’ hard labour on three charges, the sentences to run consecutively—six months in all – and ordered the money found on prisoner to be handed to Mrs. Greville, hon. sec. of the Essex Regiments’ Comforts Fund.”

1919: In the Essex Newsman (Saturday 05 April 1919); the Chelmsford Chronicle (Friday 11 April 1919); and other editions, this sentence was printed – it was probably linked to to the “winding up” dinner which took place on 10 April 1919 (photograph afore-shown) [sic]:

“£3,000 has been raised at Colchester by the Sick and Wounded Soldiers Comforts Committee for the wounded.”



 Sick and wounded soldiers: General Military Hospital, Colchester. ‘Twixt 16-22 January 1917. Courtesy/© of Denise Sanford.

Sick and wounded soldiers: General Military Hospital, Colchester.
‘Twixt 16-22 January 1917. Courtesy/© of Denise Sanford.

The above-shown photograph depicts some ill and wounded soldiers who were helped by the Comforts Fund Committee – posing outside a Ward Hut at Colchester Military Hospital.

The photograph originally belonged to Miss Catherine Florence “Kitty” Corse-Scott (later Mrs. George Micklethwaite Wilson).  Kitty wrote on the back of this card: “Ward I visited at Colchester Military Hospital 1914-18 War”.

Nine wounded soldiers autographed the back of this photograph – five were Australians; one belonged to the Royal Scots Regiment; and three belonged to the East Lancashire Regiment.

Given the periods the five identified Australian soldiers were patients at Colchester’s General Military Hospital, there seems to have been a window between 16 and 22 January 1917 when they were all there to be photographed together.

The Royal Scots lad can be seen in the front row, wearing his Glengarry hat; four of the five Australians are wearing their distinctive slouch hats; and it is wondered whether the three East Lancashire lads are the three soldiers wearing caps with prominent badges (if a clearer image could be obtained, perhaps the badges would be identified/confirmed as East Lancs).

Kitty was born in 1888, in India.  Born a British subject, Kitty was the daughter of Royal Warwickshire Regiment Colonel Edward Henry Corse-Scott and Emily Sarah Henrica (nee Pearce).  Prior to, and during the Great War years, Kitty and her family were living at The Glebe House (aka The Old Rectory), 10 Spring Lane, Lexden. Retired Colonel Corse-Scott served as military representative on the local War Tribunals.

It is believed Kitty was visiting Colchester’s General Military Hospital under the auspices of the ‘Colchester Sick and Wounded Soldiers’ Comforts Fund’.  No evidence directly links Kitty’s name to the ‘Comforts Fund’ but she knew the Ruck-Keene family who did work for it. Given Kitty’s military heritage (which extends beyond her father), she was an ideal candidate to give her services to such a cause and her photograph is testimony to that.

On 31 July 1917, Kitty married George Micklethwaite Wilson of Copford – they married in St Leonard’s Church by special licence, while George was home from France after being wounded.  He had been a volunteer ambulance driver with the Red Cross in Ypres, from December 1914 but joined the Suffolk Regiment in June 1915.  George’s Best Man was Lieutenant Ernest Lawrence Ruck-Keene – of Lexden.   Ernest died on 24 December 1918, at Constantinople.

N.B. Kitty’s photograph is duplicated in the ‘General Military Hospital’ chapter and some of the photograph’s patients are profiled within that same chapter: COLCHESTER: General Military Hospital, Sobraon Barracks


Our sister site, based on a 1918 Colchester Military Hospital photograph has additional information on nurses:  https://militaryhospitalcolchester1918.wordpress.com/

Every conceivable thing relating to this nursing subject can be discovered here: http://www.scarletfinders.co.uk/     Help from the late Sue Light acknowledged.

All military queries can be made at: http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php  Help from the Great War Forum members acknowledged.

More information about the British Red Cross, in this regard, can be discovered here:  http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/Museum-and-archives

Surviving British Red Cross cards for volunteers can be searched here:  http://www.redcross.org.uk/en/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War/Volunteers-during-WW1

The British Newspaper Archive (in partnership with the British Library):  https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

N.B. In most chapters, links will be found to British Red Cross volunteers’ cards – but please note that the BRC search facility recently underwent an upgrade. If a warning, such as this, appears at the top of a chapter these links will not work.  Old links will be replaced with new links slowly but surely.   As each chapter is renewed, the warning will be deleted.  In the meantime, the Home Page for the BRC search facility is here:   https://vad.redcross.org.uk/Volunteers-during-WW1 

NEXT: Home Hospitals covered