Friday, October 12, 2018

Friday Video: Getting Dressed during World War One: A VAD Nurse

Friday, October 12, 2018

Susan reporting,

Our friends at Crow's Eye Productions have ventured into the 20thc for this video. Featured in this video are the nurses who served in the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) run by the British Red Cross Society during World War One. The VAD was a voluntary unit of civilians who provided nursing care to British military personnel; the majority of the volunteers were women and girls from the middle and upper classes who wished to contribute to the war effort. While most of these volunteers (over 60,000 by 1918) lacked the medical training of professional nurses, by the war's end many had proven that they were not mere "society ladies."  They served bravely and competently not only in auxiliary hospitals at home and in the field, but as ambulance drivers and cooks as well.

The accomplishments of the VAD are especially impressive in light of their uniforms - no easy-care scrubs here! This video shows the staggering amount of clothing that these women were expected to wear as they performed their duties. In time the war would mark a dramatic shift in the role of modern women and how they dressed, but these uniforms clearly belong more to the Edwardian era than to the 1920s flappers.

An additional note: the video was filmed on location at Stanhope Hall, Horncastle, the site of a former VAD Hospital.

Many thanks to producer and costumer Pauline Loven for sharing this video with us!

If you receive this post via email, you may be seeing an empty space or black box where the video should be. Please click here to view the video.


Liz said...

I really enjoyed this. My grandmother was a VAD nurse, while my grandfather fought in the trenches as an officer (he almost died from wounds but then went on to live until the age of 95). I was raised by them, and now it seems so strange to have lived with people who came of age before WW1.
P.S. I remember my grandmother mentioning that shaving the legs and underarms really didn't come in until the 1920s.

Lucy said...

The most complicated portion seems to be the apron, with its button-over straps, belt, etc. Both the apron and the white pull-over sleeves would have sensibly served to help keep the dress cleaner; the cap to contain the hair, etc. I find the whole outfit rather basic, and well-designed for nursing work--though scrubs are more comfortable! :D

Sarah said...

I couldn't even imagine...i think i would lose the stiff collar thing first and then either belt or corset next. How would they work all day in that??

Two Nerdy History Girls. Design by Pocket