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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Decorations or medals for VADs


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Dear Forum members, Does anyone know of any VADs who were decorated for bravery during WW1? I am particularly interested in Australian women, but information on any others would be of great assistance. Also, can anyone tell me what medals (if any) they were entitled to after their war service?

Thank you very much, Selena

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No Australian VADs, though there were 8 Australian Army Nurses who received the Military Medal. As far as the UK was concerned, a number of Red Cross and two St. John VADs also received the Military Medal.


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This is from the Aust War Memorial site

The primary role of a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) member was that of nursing orderly in hospitals, carrying out menial but essential tasks - scrubbing floors, sweeping, dusting and cleaning bathrooms and other areas, dealing with bedpans, and washing patients. They were not employed in military hospitals, except as ward and pantry maids; rather, they worked in Red Cross convalescent and rest homes, canteens, and on troop trains.

At the start of the First World War, Australian VADs were restricted from traveling overseas by the Defence Council. As a result, many chose to travel on their own initiative and join British detachments, often in Australian Hospitals. It is reported that the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital included in their nursing staff some 120 VADs, chiefly Australians in the British service, employed through the Australian Red Cross Society. This policy was changed in 1916 after a request from Great Britain, and the first detachment of thirty official Australian VADs to serve overseas left Australia in September 1916.

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Hello all,

I think the AWM stuff is not much chop! It is largely talking about service in Australia, not service overseas.

I have a database about female VADs and nurses from Australia who served overseas with the various Red Cross societies during the war. There were trained nurses who worked in hospitals as trained nurses (eg. the group of 21 nurses called the Bluebirds sponsored by the Sydney Jockey Club); there were trained nurses who worked as VADs in hospitals (often because they had married, but many quickly acted as trained nurses...), there were VADs who had first aid and invalid cookery certificates, who worked in hospitals (particularly Aust ones), rest and convalescent homes, etc there were VADs who had nothing to do with hospitals but were cooks or drivers.

The 30 Australian VADs in 1916 "went to England to work as probationers in hospitals for one year", not to work as floor scrubbers

I have a number who were mentioned in dispatches, one with medaille d'honneur presented by French Minister of War; one with Russian decorations St Stanislaus & St Anne 1st class; one with Reconnaissance Francaise gold medal; and one with a Serbian war medal. Several are recorded as receiving Victory Medals.

I haven't seen it myself but I understand that Australian Red Cross has a list of 186 VADs who served overseas in WWI.

Naturally, I reserve all rights to be wrong...



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  • 5 months later...

There was a joint VAD/FANY Convoy based at St Omer, formed in January 1918. Several of the VADs were awarded the Military mMedal for evacuating the woundd under bombardment. There is a film of them receiving their medal ribbons (the medals were presented by the King later) from General Sir Herbert Plumer, GOC 2nd Army in June 1918..

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Good stuff LynB!

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