Hartshill, Stoke-on-Trent:

North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary Hospital

When war broke out in 1914, up to 4,000 nurses were mobilised who had some preparation for war. But other than that, trained female nurses and untrained women flocked to join the surge for the war effort. In Stoke-on-Trent, the War Office took over the North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary and turned it into a convalescent hospital for recovering soldiers staffed by Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses (also known as VADs). 

Nursing was a hard life, with the women working very long hours (in some cases 60 hour weeks). They were giving basic nursing care to men and facing a range of battle wounds they were not used to seeing before. One woman told BBC Radio Stoke in the 1970s that she served at the infirmary during the war and they had “men with their legs off, arms which had been cut all round…some with fingers off”. 

Anne Allen from Eccleshall, a nurse during World War One, is the first name on the Eccleshall War Memorial – women’s names on war memorials are relatively rare. She was the elder daughter of the vicar and was 43 when she volunteered in 1915 to become a VAD and went to Sandon Hall – but died of laryngitis in 1919. 

Location: North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary Hospital, Hartshill, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 7LN 
Image: The interior of a hut at the North Staffordshire Infirmary during WW1 
Photograph courtesy of the North Staffordshire Medical Institute

Available since: Wed 30 Jul 2014

Belgian refugees plus Mayor-Making,

Market Cross, High St. Newcastle-under-Lyme, November 1914.

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Belgian refugees in High Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme in November 1914. 40 refugees arrived in late October, and are here seen sitting in two charabancs from Chesterton. Local policemen and a crowd of children and onlookers are seen in the panning shot. Local shops and the Police Station are seen in the background.

The Scotsman in the foreground is Mr Black, who had just joined the local police force.