accessibility & help

War-time volunteers and personnel records

Our museum and archives hold personnel indexes from both world wars. 

VADs

In 1909 the War Office issued the Scheme for the Organisation of Voluntary Aid. Under this scheme, we were given the role supporting the Territorial Forces Medical Service in the event of war.

We did this by recruiting volunteers, called voluntary aid detachment members. They came to be known simply as 'VADs'. They were trained in first aid and nursing and proved invaluable during both world wars.

What records do we hold?

We have a series of indexes recording the service details of personnel working during both world wars. These indexes are very extensive but they are known to be incomplete – there is no guarantee that the person you are looking for will be in the indexes.

Record cards may include the dates of service, the nature of the duties performed, the detachment the individual belonged to, the institutions and places where the individual served, and any honours that may have been awarded. In addition, there are indexes for personnel who served in military hospitals, who were trained nurses, and who received the war medal.

We also have index cards for recipients of the voluntary medical service awards for the period between the 1930s and the 1960s.

We don't have records of VADs during the interwar years or the period before the First World War. 

We have a very limited record of VADs from after the Second World War. 

Regretfully, an individual's service record cannot be traced by a medal recipient number, as these records have not survived.

How can I search for someone from the First World War?

Search our records for First World War volunteers.

How can I search for VADs from a different era?

For conservation and security reasons, these records are not directly accessible to the public. However, our small team of two are willing to search these records on request. 

An application should be made in writing or via email, to the museum and archives department, containing as much relevant information about the individual concerned as possible. In particular, it is useful to include:

  • date of birth
  • any known addresses
  • date of marriage (if applicable)
  • any already known service details
  • middle names, maiden or married names .

Is there a charge for this service?

There is no formal charge for this service. However, we only have a team of two and the time it takes us to carry out a simple search of the records costs the Red Cross at least £10. In view of this, you may wish to make a donation towards the expenses incurred.

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