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Gloucestershire Red Cross hospitals 1914-1919

During the First World War there was an urgent need for more hospitals to care for injured soldiers, and the existing infrastructure of military and civilian hospitals was not able to cope. The Red Cross set up a large number of Voluntary Aid (V.A.) hospitals across the UK, of which there were about 30 in Gloucestershire. Many of these were based in large residential houses loaned to the Red Cross by their owners. Others were set up in public buildings including church halls, community centres, schools, and even the grandstand at Cheltenham racecourse. Cash and trained medical staff were in short supply so the hospitals were run by Voluntary Aid Detachments (V.A.D.s), mostly unpaid local women.

VAD transport staff, Cheltenham 1915


The first Red Cross hospitals in 1914 were set up to care for wounded Belgian soldiers who were then being sent for treatment in the UK. However they soon became flooded with British casualties, and in many cases had to take soldiers who had come straight from the front line, often in a terrible state having received no treatment other than a simple field dressing on the battlefield.

Shortly after the war the Red Cross issued a book called The Red Cross in Gloucestershire 1914-19, printed at the Gloucester Chronicle Office in Bell Lane, Gloucester. It included reports and financial accounts for all the VA hospitals in Gloucestershire.

The reports for each of the hospitals in the book are transcribed on the pages listed below, along with pictures from the book (sometimes supplemented with additional information and pictures from the 1915 and 1917 yearbooks). I've also tried to include whatever information I can find about the locations of the hospitals, and whether the buildings still exist.



staff list

staff list

staff list
staff list

Painless coil, as arranged by Capt. Bristow for treatment of wasted muscles. Cirencester.

Can't find what you're looking for? There's a fabulous wealth of information relating to Cheltenham in WW1 at, including more details and pictures of the Cheltenham VAD hospitals. There's also a good page of information covering the whole of the UK on the Kent VAD Hospitals website.

Where did this site come from?

This site has been set up and maintained by Cheltenham-based musician and writer Rebsie Fairholm, with the intention of sharing some of the goodies of local historical interest I've collected over the years, and as a tribute to the hundreds of amazing people who gave their time (and occasionally their lives) to help the war wounded. It's a non-commercial site maintained at my own expense and although I've taken great care over the transcriptions it's always possible there could be errors. There are almost certainly errors in the original book too, as my copy contains several contemporary handwritten "corrections" - this is especially true of the staff lists where there are a few obvious glitches and odd spellings. I've transcribed everything exactly as it appears in the book, including the things which look like they might be errors, rather than try to make assumptions about how to correct them.

To the best of my knowledge all the content presented on these pages is in the public domain but as a courtesy please give a credit to this site and/or a link if you intend to use any of this material elsewhere. More content will be added as my time and enthusiasm permits. Meanwhile you can find me on my main website, I also run a Cheltenham local history site full of pictures, info and old maps: Cheltonia.