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The box contains a British Red Cross Society Proficiency in First-Aid Badge awarded to Miss E. H. Edwards. It is a white carton, measures 4.2”x 2.2” and its lid has a label including the badge reference number, the full name of the person awarded the badge written in crayon, and the following information in print: “British Red Cross Society (Incorporated by Royal Charter, 1908) 14, Grosvenor Crescent, London, S.W. 1.”

This British Red Cross Society Proficiency in First-Aid Badge was awarded to Miss E. H. Edwards after her third First Aid re-examination on the 30th of July 1943. It consists of a metal banner with “Proficiency in Red Cross First Aid” written in golden letters tied on top of a white ribbon with two parallel red lines and a metal red cross on the lower part of the small ribbon. The lower cross includes a smaller red cross inside a white emblem, which in turn is inside a white circle in which “The British Red Cross” is written in golden letters. The metal cross has Miss Edwards’ name and her Red Cross number engraved on the back. The badge measures approximately 3.7”x 1.6” at its widest points.

Members of the Red Cross had to have three successive certificates in appropriate subjects, such as nursing, first aid, hygiene and sanitation, with an interval of at least 12 months between the dates of each certificate gained. A proficiency badge was awarded after the third successful examination, and after the 4th and subsequent examinations the Red Cross members would be given proficiency bars. Each proficiency badge had the relevant subject on the ornamental brooch and a different ribbon for each subject. As Miss Edwards passed her third re-examination in First Aid on the 30th of July 1943, it is assumed that is when she was given the badge as well. The proficiency badges were instituted in 1914 for first aid, nursing, hygiene and sanitation, in 1916 for cookery, in 1929 for administration and organisation and for tuberculosis course and in 1956 for infant and child welfare. They were discontinued in 1968. The badge and its original box were donated to Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales in Cardiff by Miss E. H. Edwards in 1948.

Miss Elizabeth Harriet Edwards, known as Hettie Edwards, worked as a librarian first at the National Library Wales and then at the National Museum of Wales, where she worked from 1931 until 1970. She also served as Chairman of the Welsh Branch of the Library Association and was President-elect of the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society. She interrupted her work as a librarian during the Second World War, when she volunteered as a nurse in the British Red Cross Society. During her service as a nurse she was awarded several certificates for home nursing and first aid, as well as a proficiency badge for her third first-aid examination.

The British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John formed the Joint War Organisation, offering extensive services for the sick and wounded, for prisoners of war and for civilians needing relief as a result of enemy action, at home and abroad. The joint organisation created ambulance departments for the transportation of the wounded, established convalescent homes and auxiliary hospitals, sometimes in private properties across the UK. During the summer and autumn of 1940, when the German Aerial Forces launched a major aerial bombing campaign against the United Kingdom, known commonly as the Battle of Britain, the Red Cross volunteers drove ambulances, carried stretchers and rescued people from buildings that had been demolished by bombs. They manned first aid posts in the London Underground stations that were being used as air raid shelters. The Red Cross gave out food, medical supplies, blankets and clothing to people in town halls, emergency rest centres and hospitals. The Red Cross also dispatched food parcels to British prisoners of war abroad and helped to search for information on servicemen reported wounded or missing.

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, 48-86

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