EVINGTON’S V.A.D HOSPITAL (VOLUNTARY AIDED DETACHMENT)
The building now known as Evington Park House was called Knighton V.A.D. Hospital or VAD Leicester 4 during WW1.
V.A.D. hospitals were set up through the Joint War Committee comprising the British Red Cross and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem who had pooled their resources under the Red Cross emblem. Suitable buildings were set up as auxillary hospitals and by the summer of 1914 there were 2,500 VAD hospitals in Britain. Of the 74,000 V.A.D. members in 1914, two thirds were women and girls.
Knighton Hospital was attached to the Base Hospital in Leicester, which is now the Fielding Johnson building at the University of Leicester. They waited through the long autumn months of 1914, preparing lists of beds, saucepans, tables, etc. ready for the summons which came in December. The House was kindly lent for a hospital and fitted out quickly, so the first nineteen patients were received from the Leicester Base Hospital on 28th December.
The commandant of the hospital was called Miss Alice Henderson and in 1919 she wrote the following article for the Wyggeston Girls Gazette p. 282-283 about working in the V.A.D. hospital, which she described as a happy place.
“The day in the kitchen begins at 7am (approximately), when three somewhat sleepy individuals arrive to prepare breakfast of porridge, tea and cocoa, bread and butter, treacle, and on the welcome occasions when gifts have been sent, eggs, ham or tongue. Breakfast is ready in the dining room at 8 o’clock, usually for more than half the men who are in hospital, and at the same time the night nurses and some of the ward nurses take breakfast to those who cannot come down for it.
From breakfast all through the morning the kitchen is a very busy place. Soup has to be prepared as an alternative to milk at 10.30, the huge joints of meat have to be put in the oven betimes to be ready for 12.30 dinner, puddings made, potatoes and vegetables cooked, not to speak of gravy, sauces and special diets.
Besides, there is the dining-room to be swept and dusted at least thrice daily, the pantry and kitchen to be kept clean and last, but by no means least, there is the inevitable washing up after each meal. Tea at 4 o’clock, preparation of soup and milk for supper at 7.30, and of vegetables, or puddings, or anything that can be made ready for the following day, taken up the attention of the kitchen workers till eight o’clock, or thereabouts.
It will have been noticed that early to bed is the order at Knighton House. Last week, however, we celebrated the winning of a Distinguished Conduct Medal by one of the soldiers, with a special entertainment followed by a supper in the dining-room and the men were allowed to stay up till nearly nine o’clock!
Most of the men who have been in the Hospital have come from the Front, and include Regulars, some of whom have been for years in India or Africa, Reservists who rejoined in August and Territorials. Amongst the latter was one Scotch boy of 17, who had been no further than Bedford. He came in recovering from rheumatism, and was a great source of amusement. The other men in his ward tied him up in his sheets by night, played pitch and toss with him by day, and finally, on his last evening, presented him with a cigar, which he manfully smoked – with disastrous consequences. Another amusing person was a traveling show-man, who wrote in an autograph book a long list of engagements in which he had taken part – Ypres, Armentieres, La Bassee and so on; in reality he had been driving a traction engine from the coast to Headquarters, or some such comparatively safe route.
The readers of the ‘Gazette’ will be glad to hear that there are at least twelve Old Wyggestonians working in the Hospital, some regularly, some when other duties allow them. Several of them are in the wards, two bring the professional element into the cooking department, one is head stoker of the kitchen fire, another chief soup maker, whilst many are quickly becoming experts at potato peeling.
The thanks of soldiers and workers are due also to those Wyggestonians – staff, old and present pupils – who have contributed to the evening entertainments at the Hospital.”
A. C. Henderson
Registered – March 18th 1914
Commandant: Miss Alice Henderson M.B.E. (resigned April, 1919).
Quartermaster: Miss G. Whittingham (resigned September, 1919, Miss E. M. Arculus.)
Medical Officer: Dr. G. H. Crofts
E. Barlow, E. W. Barnley, D. Blackwell, M. Blackwell, M. S. Bond, D. F. Briggs, I. M. Brightland, E. E. Buckler, D. Crowther, L. I Donaldson, E. D. I. Cornhill, H. M. Ellis, G. M. K. Thomson, D. V. Faire, V. D. Faire, D. Finburgh, D. Goodard, I Hartopp, E. S. Healey, N. Henderson, A. M. E. Statham, H. Johnstone, Z. Taylor, K. M. Lennard, E. M. Mason, E. M. Cross, M.C. Neale, I. B. B. Noel, M. Palfreyman, M. Paprill, A. B. Pritchard, B. Russell, E. L. Salter, M. E. Scott, D. E. A. Seymour, C. Simons, M. Simons, S. K. Sloane, D. E. M. Smith, C. Spencer, G. T. Spencer, B. Thompson, F. A. Tippetts, D. M. Turner, A. M. Collier, G. M. Cholerton, K. Wand, B. Wates, H. Wherry, M. H. Williams, L. M. Wykes, M. Bird, M. C. Burford, C. H. Jeffrey, M. C. Graham, B. Grant, C. E. Halford, D. Harrison, W. Hilton, M. Lee, G. H. Lupton, M. A. Pearson, E. Raven, L. C. Sorrell, P. H. Sutton, F. L. Tyler, C. S. Tough, M. G. Westropp, D. W. Whitehead, D. E. Wilson.
The following Members enrolled for Military Service:
H. M. Ellis, G. M. K. Thomson, D. Goddard,
C. Spencer, S. K. Sloane, A. M. Collier,
B. Wates, D. V. Faire, V. M. Faire, M. Paprill.
Egypt: D. V. Faire, V. M. Faire, M. Paprill
Salonika: M. Paprill
D. Crowther, L. I. Donaldson, N. Henderson,
A. M. E. Statham, H. Johnstone, B. Russell,
A. B. Pitchard, D. E. A. Seymour, C. Simons,
M. Simons, D. E. M. Smith, C. Spencer,
G. Spencer, L. M. Wykes, M. Bird, H. J. Clark, B. Grant, D. Harrison, G. H. Lupton, C. S. Tough, D. S. Whitehead.
The arrangements for providing refreshments for the patients on ambulance trains when they arrived at Leicester were first placed in the hands of this Detachment. With the opening of the Knighton V.A.D. Hospital the Members volunteered to undertake the kitchen and pantry work and carried this through most successfully. When the Hospital was removed to Evington Village, Miss A. C. Henderson held her position at the hospital until it closed. Miss Whittingham was the Quartermaster of the Hospital.
Miss Alice Henderson received the M. B. E. and Miss Whittingham was ‘mentioned’ for services in connection with the Knighton V.A.D. Hospital.