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What was the VAD?

The Voluntary Aid Detachment was a voluntary unit providing nursing and hospital services. It was set up by the Red Cross and the Order of St John of Jerusalem in 1909, but it grew rapidly during the First World War.

The VAD Hospital in Hungerford:

At the outbreak of the war in August 1914, there was no Ministry of Health and no one had overall control of the hospitals. However, the VAD stepped in to support the military hospitals, caring for convalescing soldiers, or those less severely injured or unwell.

In February 1915, Miss Wooldridge, (of the well-known family at The Wharf, 13 Bridge Street), who was Commandant of the 42 Berks VAD Detachment in Hungerford, was called on to set up a hospital in the town.

Within a few days, the old National School building (42 High Street, now Dickins, Hopgood, Chidley, solicitors) and used at the time as a Technical Institute, was commissioned for use, and turned into a hospital with a kitchen and a ward of ten beds. Two additional wards were added at a later date, bringing the total number of beds to 40.

The official name of the VAD hospital was "The "Technical Institute Auxiliary Red Cross Hospital, Hungerford".

The medical officer was Dr Starkey-Smith. The names of many of the nurses are listed below.

Many of those treated were personnel from the numerous ASC (MT) Companies that were stationed in the town (see First World War), whilst the remainder came from the Military Hospital at Tidworth.

Photo Gallery:

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- "Hungerford VAD Hospital Staff No 2". Back row L-R: Miss Lowe, Mary Butler (Standen Manor), Cynthia Hissey, Winnie Platt, Mrs Bingham (wife of chemist), Mercy Adnams, Barbara Astley (later Hope), Middle row: Miss Brenda Van de Weyer (Hungerford Park), Miss Elsa Van de Weyer, Doris Crees, Miss Beard, Mrs Blake James, Mrs Ferne Taylor, Miss Wilmshurst, Maggie Newhook, Miss de Wen-Fenton (Chilton Foliat), Front: Mrs J S Gray, ??? (a trained nursing sister), Miss Janie Wooldridge (Commandant), Mrs Jacob (wife of Lloyds Bank Manager, Quarter Master), Aunt Jeannie (Head cook, this was Jeanni Adnams, wife of John Adnams, 28 High Street), ??? (wife of an Officer). Click here for more info]. [A Parsons]

- Medical Staff, Nurses and patients outside the VAD Hospital. This photograph was kindly sent to the Virtual Museum (Oct 2014) by Royston Carpenter, who explained that his grand-father James Edward George Carpenter (Service No CMT/2979, in the dressing gown on the right end of the second from front row) had been treated at the VAD Hospital after serving (and presumably being injured) at Ypres. He was in the Army Service Corps 730th Mechanical Service Division. He went on to serve in Mesopotamia, where he lost his life.

- The "Technical Institute Auxiliary Red Cross Hospital, Hungerford", or VAD Hospital, in the old National School building (now 42 High Street) VAD_poster

- First World War recruitment poster for Volutary Aid Detachments - probably never necessary in Hungerford, as there were many volunteers.

- In one of the larger wards

- In one of the larger wards [Templeman's, Stoke-on-Trent "130"]

- In the kitchen [Templeman's, Stoke-on-Trent "126"]

- Hungerford VAD Hospital Staff No. 2 [Albert Parsons]

- Hungerford VAD Nurses

- Medical Staff, Nurses and patients outside the VAD Hospital. (kindly sent by Royston Carpenter)

Other nearby VAD Hospitals:

There were several other VAD hospitals set up in the nearby area, including at Barton Court Kintbury, Benham Vallance, West Woodhay House, two at Newbury, The Vicarage at Ramsbury and the Wesley Hall at Marlborough.

See also:

- First World War

- 42 High Street

- "The Western Kennet Valley in the Great War", by Roger Day

Updated: 5.4.2015