VAD Formation in Essex

Voluntary Aid Detachments or the VAD as they came to be called came about in Essex in 1909.

The VAD's tended to be led by a prominent lady in each area and usually were driven by middle/upper class ladies who were doing their bit for the country.

The  majority of VAD members were female although there were some male members to carry out some of the more physical acts.


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Lady Warwick of Easton Lodge whose husband was Lord Lieutenant of Essex was asked by the Territorial Forces to lead the Red Cross and VAD network in Essex.

The aim of the VAD was to complete the organisation of a Territorial Royal Medical Corps to support the Territorials in the advent of an invasion of the country.

Lady Warwick wrote to the Chelmsford Chronicle in November 1909 with the following proposals

Raising one or more detachments( Male and female) in each of the Police Divisions of Essex

Membership will be granted to Registered Medical Practitioners, fully trained hospital nurses, trained pharmacists and people possessing first aid and home nursing certificates issued by the St John Ambulance.

Anyone else wishing to join will need to receive instruction and pass examinations in these certificates at St John bases in Leyton, East Ham, Becton, Walthamstow, Ilford, Barking, Manningtree and Colchester.

In other places the Essex Education Committee will provide the instruction and candidates may attend a centre for the examination.

She requested that premises such as church halls will be put at the disposal of the VAD classes without charge.

By December 1909 detachments were in place at Colchester, Chelmsford, Halstead, Ongar, Epping, Saffron Walden, Grays, Buckhurst Hill, Walthamstow and Harlow.