Berkswell Rectory was used as an Auxiliary Hospital during the First World War. These hospitals for wounded soldiers were administered by the British Red Cross Society, and were used as convalescence hospitals – a stepping stone between treatment at a general hospital and discharge home.
The Red Cross had set up Voluntary Aid Detachments (V.A.D.) in each county to provide supplementary aid to the Territorial Forces Medical Services in the event of war. Members came to be known as ‘V.A.D.s’ and were all trained in first aid and nursing.
In 1909, the British Red Cross was tasked with helping the Territorial Forces Medical Service in the event of war. It set up local units called ‘Voluntary Aid Detachments’, and members were trained in first aid and nursing.
Auxiliary Hospitals, attached to military hospitals, were established – the following are known to have operated in Solihull:
Berkswell Rectory (opened 26th May 1915)
Fentham Institute, Hampton-in-Arden
Norton Cottage, Knowle
Springfield Hall, Knowle
Ivy Cottage, Marston Green (opened 6th September 1915)
Olton Congregational Church Room (opened 9th February 1915)
The Hermitage, Solihull (opened 18th November 1914)
Do you know of any more?
The British Red Cross Society holds records of V.A.D. nurses, and will search the records for you if you make a request in writing. Details of some V.A.D. nurses who served overseas are also available on the Find My Past website (this is available free of charge from library computers in Solihull, otherwise a subscription is required to view the records).
If you have any relatives from places now within the Solihull Borough who served as V.A.D. nurses, please let us know. You can leave a comment here, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us on 0121 704 6934.