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The indoor uniform of the British Red Cross Society nurse consisted of a short-sleeved, knee-length light-blue cotton dress, with a turned collar, front buttons and hip pockets; a knee-length white apron, with a red cross sewn on the chest, the upper part of which would have been pinned on the chest of the dress underneath; a dark-blue belt worn over the apron; and a rectangular white fine gauze headscarf, with a red cross embroidered on a side (see vcs_chronicle_an_103). Miss Elizabeth Harriet (Hettie) Edwards’ dress measures 43” in length, from collar to lower hem, 14.3” in width across the shoulders, 19” in width at the waist and 30” in width at the lower hem, with a 14” long sleeve. On the left side of the chest it has a metal red, white and gold badge, with an upper red banner in which it is written “County of Glamorgan” and a lower encircled red cross hanging down, the circle reads “British Red Cross Society”. Considering other photographic material of the time, we may presume the white apron would be pinned to Hettie’s dress with the badge on one side and a watch on the other. The apron itself is made of cotton and it has a label on the inside of the waistband which reads “The Mornington Make REGP British”. It measures 30” in length, 51.5” in width at the hem, 32.5” wide at the waist, 10” long and 11” wide across the chest. The belt, 25” long and 2” wide, is made of cotton webbing and can be pinned with two small snaps. The uniform was donated by Miss Edwards to Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales on the 15th of April 1946.

Miss Elizabeth Harriet 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, 46.139/5 (apron), 46.139/3 (dress), 46.139/4 (belt)
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