Remembering casualties of war nursed in town

VITAL WORK: Spilsby's Red Cross Auxillary Hospital.
VITAL WORK: Spilsby's Red Cross Auxillary Hospital.

Red Cross nurses and the First World War casualties they cared for at a Spilsby hospital will be remembered in a ceremony next month.

A plaque marking the use of Franklin Hall as a temporary hospital during the conflict will be placed back in public view.

The piece of hidden history will be unveiled in the entrance hall after spending years on a storage room wall.

The plaque was presented by the North Lincolnshire Branch of the British Red Cross Society to acknowledge the loan of the building, then called the Drill Hall, for use as an auxiliary hospital.

Franklin Hall Trustee and Management Committee decided a more fitting setting was needed for the plaque to mark the centenary of the start of the war.

A total of 1,386 wounded British and Belgian soldiers were cared for by local Volunteer Aid Detachment (VAD) nurses between October 25, 1914, and February 20, 1919. A collection of photos taken at the hospital is kept in the Spilsby History Society archive

History Society chairman and Franklin Hall trustee Raymond Glynne-Owen said: “When you look at the photos of the nurses they would have been local people. They worked part-time so there was a lot of them.

“It is important that we try to make sure people learn a little about the part 
Spilsby played in the First World War.”

He added: “It seems that the Red Cross plaque was originally placed in the Drill Hall shortly after the end of the Great War and when the hall was refurbished in the mid-1960s located on the back wall of a display area.

“The hall is increasingly used for activities using recreational equipment which is stored in the display area, so the management committee agreed to the plaque being relocated into the entrance foyer, which conveniently coincides with the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War.”

Before the outbreak of war the Drill Hall was used by C Company of the 5th (Territorial) Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment no 2.

Following the Armistice, the regiment resumed its occupancy of the Drill Hall, up to and throughout the Second World War.

VAD nurses carried out general nursing duties and administered first aid. The British Red Cross was given responsibility for raising units of nurses under the War Office scheme launched in 1909.