THE RED CROSS HOSPITAL
Some of the exhibits in the museum came from Harold Greening, a member of a local family who was greatly interested in Winchcombe’s history. One of the treasures he left was the scrapbook given to him by Eliza Wedgwood, the youngest and unmarried daughter of one of the Wedgwood family. Her father had been vicar of nearby Dumbleton. She was well-known for her philanthropic work and at the beginning of the First World War had helped a number of Belgian refugees. She later became the Commandant of Winchcombe’s Red Cross Hospital. From 1914 until the end of the war she kept letters and photographs from friends and many of the men, which tell much of their story.
Winchombe was proud of its Red Cross Detachment. It was formed in 1910, by Dr Halliwell and Eleanor Adlard. They opened a Red Cross Hospital in Winchcombe in May 1915. It was on a split site and cared for other ranks only, not officers. In August that year it closed briefly.
When the hospital opened again to receive men from the Battle of Loos in October 1915, Dr Halliwell needed more help and Eliza Wedgwood became the Commandant, running the hospital until it closed in November 1918.
It was not an easy task, being on two sites, with no attached gardens where the men could sit outdoors, and with little space or comfort in the ward. Dr Halliwell opened his garden for the men to use.
Local people took to the care of the wounded with enthusiasm, inviting the men out to tea, organising concerts, pantomines and amateur dramatics and raising money for the Red Cross.
Members of the Adlard family worked as volunteers and invited men to their home, where Kate Adlard, producer of the pantomimes also enjoyed small plays.
One of the long term nurses, Bessie Hyatt, also kept a photograph and autograph album, now in the museum. A number of the men wrote of their appreciation of the care they were given, and their details have helped some of their stories to be traced in other records.
Such detailed records of a Red Cross hospital are rare, and have allowed a much more detailed story of Winchcombe’s Red Cross hospital to be created.