St John’s Ambulance Documents

Today we are looking at a selection of documents relating to one woman’s time with the St John Ambulance and the Volunteer Aid Detachment of the British Red Cross in World War I. Evelyn Gifford joined the St John Ambulance before the Great War and would continue in service with them or other volunteer aid groups throughout the conflict leaving this small selection of papers:

The papers include two certificates indicating successful completion of a training course. The first dates to 1912 when Evelyn completed a course in ‘First Aid to the Injured’. Printed on heavy card stock, this certificate is elaborate, as is the penmanship used to complete her details:

The following year Evelyn had completed a second course, this time in Home Nursing:

By 1917 it seems Evelyn had joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment of the British Red Cross in London, as there is a set of standing orders from this organisation:

Also dating to this later period of the war is a flyer advertising a series of six lectures which cover not only Home Nursing, but also anti-gas and air protection, an indication of the growing danger on the Home Front of enemy action. Although gas was never dropped on civilians in either war, there was a real fear it might and so training on how to administer first aid to potential casualties was clearly a sensible precaution:

Rounding out the selection of papers is a leaflet advising on the correct way to use a triangular bandage:

The volunteer aid organisations took on a heavy burden in the Great War, in August 1914 the public clamoured for first aid courses and the St John Ambulance delivered 5 week courses in a single week to meet demand. At one centre in London 200-500 people joined courses in the first week of the war. Wartime certificates might not have been elaborate as these examples, but the teaching behind them would remain useful and relevant to all who took part throughout the conflict.

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