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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Red Cross visits to injured Soldiers in France


Garron
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Hi Pals.

A customer in work approached me as she knows I'm interested in the Great War, there is a story in her family that her Grandmother was sent to visit a injured/dying family member at a field hospital in France or Belgium courtesy of Red Cross early in the war.

Does anyone know anything about this? Seems a bit risky sending civilians over into a war zone even if it is behind the lines

Diolch
Gaz

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It did happen. I started a similar thread earlier this year when a friend sent me evidence that a relative of his called Private James Close of the Seaforth Highlanders had been visited by members of his family from Ireland while he was dying at Etaples. The replies mentioned other cases and links to previous threads on the matter. Unfortunately I haven't yet worked out how to copy and paste a link from my smartphone!

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Hello Gaz

Most general, stationary and voluntary hospitals, incluing those actually run by the British Red Cross Society, were situated at the base ports or elsewhere well behind the front, relatively safe from enemy attentions (apart from the odd bombing raid). It would have been relatively easy to organise visiting for the relatives of dying soldiers, in conducted parties with official passes. But I suspect comparatively few relatives could have been accommodated in this way.

Ron

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Thanks guys,

Ron thanks for clearing up the locations of the hospitals, I guessed they were well behind the lines.

At least I can give her some positive information that it did happen.

I found the thread Mark, thanks, since the forums has had an upgrade I dislike the search system, doesn't seem to work very well I don't think. I never found any of those listed when I searched.

Diolch
Gaz

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Visits were authorised when a soldier was in danger of dying but likely to last long enough for a visit to take place. A railway pass for one next of kin would normally be issued. Some times a second pass would be issued if age and/or infirmity required assistance in travel. The Army took care of accommodation and those visiting would be met at the appropriate station and taken on to the hospital. In this way even the relatively poor could manage a visit. However the issue of passes was to an extent dependent upon capacity on the railways which could be very busy. There must have been some form of rationing but what the criteria was I've never found out. Relatives could obtain permission to visit soldiers convalescing in France (usually in resorts well away from either the front or the base areas) provided that they would be travelling on a route that did not have pressure from military traffic and they paid their own fares and accommodation costs. This also applied to visiting soldiers recovering after having been exchanged into Switzerland or the Netherlands. Such visits were not always confined to the wealthy as one might have expected as some charities organised trips and some unions and social clubs organised collections.

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