Sunday, 6 January 2013

Canadian VADs

I've been asked several times if I have any details regarding Canadian VADs, as information seems to be hard to come by, and while browsing through some documents which originate at the IWM, I came across this short piece which might be useful (if not earth shattering!).

The first V.A.D. member supplied to the Canadian Red Cross Society was a secretary in 1916 who remained with them until the time of their closing down.
In the spring of 1917, owing to the difficulty in obtaining men drivers, the Assistant Commissioner applied for two V.A.D. drivers to assist in their lorry section; no Canadian women drivers were available at that time but one English and one Australian driver were sent out; they were the first to undertake lorry driving in France and made good.  In the garage, their tact and adaptability overcame any prejudices on the part of the men with whom they had to work; they both put in charge of a 15 cwt. lorry and carried supplies as far as Doullens, Le Treport, and other similar points.
About the same time, the Canadian Red Cross Society requisitioned for V.A.D. members for their Recreation Huts attached to the Canadian Hospitals.  For this work, Canadian members were especially asked for in order that they might have interests in common with the patients who they were to entertain in the huts.  During the year members were supplied to five hospitals (two being attached to each) and in every instance they improved the usefulness of the Recreation Huts (which had previously been under the supervision of an N.C.O.) tremendously, organising concerts and games of all sorts, helping with church services on Sundays, and generally keeping the men happy.
Canadian V.A.D. members have also been attached to Canadian Red Cross Headquarters for the purpose of keeping in touch with Canadian patients in Imperial hospitals, distributing comforts from Canada, ‘home newspapers’, and sending cables and writing letters for them.  In the Canadian Red Cross Stores, both at headquarters and in Paris, members have worked in various capacities as clerks and book-keepers, and at one Canadian Hospital, a member ran the stores entirely, checking all goods in, issuing the hospital requirements and keeping the books.


  1. Thanks for the info on Canadian VADs Sue. This information is very hard to come by on this side of the world, too. Best regards, Debbie Marshall, Alberta, Canada