During the First World War many small local hospitals were involved in the rehabilitation of injured troops across the country. Alongside these existing institutions many large private houses were converted into hospital facilities with many stately homes and manor houses involved in the care of injured men. The nursing staff at these facilities could be very varied, with a mixture of qualified nurses, VADs and domestic staff. Today’s postcard depicts the staff and patients at one of these small hospitals:
The lady seated in the centre is clearly in charge of the staff and has a pair of unusual chevrons on her sleeves, although quite what they signify is not clear:
The other nurses wear a variety of uniform and insignia:
Also amongst the staff is a girl wearing an apron over a civilian dress, which I suspect would be a maid or charwoman working at the hospital:
By contrast the military personnel are fairly uniform in their hospital blues uniform:
This variety in uniform seems quite common in smaller establishments, larger hospitals had a more defined staffing structure and centralised ordering for uniform which resulted in a more uniform uniform! Rules were far more lax at smaller institutions and as long as the uniforms looked smart, clean and respectable many places were happy with this relative informality.
The veiled woman is likely to be non-VAD and the trained or registered (depending on country) nurse. Wearing of a veil rather than a head covering is a key distinguishing feature of a professional nurse rather than a VAD. In addition, professional nurses did not wear red crosses on their apron bib, wore short, starched collar and cuffs as well as a starched apron. The lack of any medals ie. QARANC, training hospital or other insignia on this woman is unusual though.