At the outbreak of war there were many groups of Bexhillian women who wanted to help care for the sick and wounded. Some were trained nurses already employed in Bexhill or in large General Hospitals elsewhere. Some of these stayed at their posts nursing civilians in Bexhill as Parish Nurse, School Nurse or in the small Isolation Hospital. Others, if they had the experience and a reference to their respectability, volunteered for one of Queen Alexandra’s Royal Military Nursing Services and nursed wounded soldiers from the battle fields in Casualty Clearing Stations, Field Hospitals abroad, on Hospital Ships and Hospital Trains or in Large Military Hospitals set up all along the Coast of the British Isles.
Wounded soldiers who arrived in Bexhill were most likely to receive care from women who had been attending Red Cross lectures in First Aid and Home Nursing and who volunteered to work in a Red Cross Volunteer Aid Detachment (VAD) Hospital. The three Red Cross Hospitals in Bexhill, Cooden and Ninfield were each directed by a Commandant and a Matron. A Medical Officer, often a local GP, made clinical decisions. There might not be a trained nurse, although there was one at Normanhurst Hospital where a surgeon performed operations.
In1918 a Canadian Red Cross convalescent hospital took over the military training camp at Cooden and was active in returning recovering Canadian soldiers to battle fitness.
The Red Cross Hospitals were supported by a volunteer Supply Depot where bandages, swabs, and bed linen, etc., were sewn by the ladies and crutches and other items of medical equipment were made in a workshop by the men.
Red Cross volunteers, (also called VADs) also volunteered to go abroad to nurse and to support Field Hospitals in other ways. There were Bexhillians in all theatres of the War and the work they did, at home and abroad was recognised with mentions in dispatches, medals and sometimes with MBEs.