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WWI women's overseas Red Cross uniform

Started by Bob Hudson , Apr 23 2012 03:46 PM

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#1 Bob Hudson

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 03:46 PM

I bought this knowing it was a WWI Red Cross overseas uniform, but after I brought home I found insignia in the pockets that gave me more clues:

1.jpg

In the pockets were these bits of insignia and pins including one that has the initials WWRC. That turns out to be the Women's War Relief Corps in France, organized by the Red Cross and staffed by American women:

3.jpg

7.jpg

#2 Bob Hudson

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 03:47 PM

This is heavy scratchy wool:

2.jpg

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6.jpg

#3 Bob Hudson

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 03:50 PM

Here are some excerpts from a 1917 memo which explains a little bit about what the WWRC did:


December 31st, 1917.
FROM : Director Hospital Committee, W. W. R. C. in France.

TO: Commanding Officer, A. R. C. M. H. No. L

SUBJECT: Work of Committee for this Hospital.

At the instance of the American Ambassadrice, Mrs. Wm. G.
Sharp, who had accepted the task of organizing the Women's War
Relief Corps in France, the Hospital Committee came into being,
formed in great measure from the personnel of the Ladies' Auxil-
iary Committee, which had had so much to do with the adminis-
tration of the old "American Ambulance."

It was deemed that the object and scope of the new Com-
mittee could be defined as follows:

1st. To complete the work of the former "Ladies' Auxiliary
Committee" in regard to the institution now being carried on as
the "American Red Cross Military Hospital No. L"

2nd. To work in connection with the Hospital Branch of the
Military Affairs Department of the American Red Cross.


#4 Bob Hudson

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 04:54 PM

I wonder if the owner of this uniform started with the WWRC and moved on to another Red Cross branch?

I found this photo showing how the red cross and US insignia would be worn:

rc1.jpg

Now what is driving me crazy is trying to match the collar trim of this uniform to the colors used for the various Red Cross services:

rctrim.jpg

This looks pink:

9.jpg

#5 ww1collector

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 05:14 PM

Great group. Dave

#6 kyhistorian01

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 05:32 PM

I would say that most likley your collar insignia was originally the wine color and faded over time. Some color dies fade like this over time especially if exposed to sunlight. Just my guess.

Robert

#7 Bob Hudson

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 05:39 PM

I would say that most likley your collar insignia was originally the wine color and faded over time. Some color dies fade like this over time especially if exposed to sunlight. Just my guess.

Robert


I think "wine" is a about the only thing it could be, but even the backside of the fabric is this shade, so it wasn't sunlight - must've been a very unstable dye.

#8 Bob Hudson

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 05:45 PM

I have to add that even more puzzling than the color is the stated service for wine collar flashes:

"Delegates to Meet Transportation"

???????

#9 Bob Hudson

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 08:17 PM

I have to add that even more puzzling than the color is the stated service for wine collar flashes:

"Delegates to Meet Transportation"

???????


I found an which explains why this uniform has WWRC and Red Cross insignia in the pocket and explains what these Delegates to Meet Transportation did:

wwrc1.jpg

#10 cwnorma

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 04:56 PM

FS,

Wonderful uniform! Thank you for sharing.

Chris

#11 Bob Hudson

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 06:01 PM

FS,

Wonderful uniform! Thank you for sharing.

Chris


It's been an interesting learning experience, researching the WWRC and the Delegates to Meet Transportation, as well as the role of American women in WWI. My wife's great aunt was an Army Nurse in France, but the Red Cross pretty much functioned as a branch of the military, providing all sorts of vital services.

I learned that there are variations on the uniforms for sure: I did find reference to an American Red Cross set of instructions and patterns for the uniforms, to be given to tailors. It would be interesting to find copies of those documents. I keep hoping that someday I can find one of the blue WWI Army nurse uniforms similar in style to this Red Cross uniform, as worn by Aunt Agnes (shown here with one of her three brothers who were all in the service, but only Agnes served in France):

agnesandharold.jpg

I thought I had one last year, but the person who called me to come over really just wanted a free appraisal.

#12 cwnorma

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 06:13 AM

I thought I had one last year, but the person who called me to come over really just wanted a free appraisal.


Ah yes, the ol' "I have this old thing I want to sell... How much? I think I'll see if I get any other offers..." gambit...

Oh well, one will turn up.

On a side note, it seems your Aunt Agnes spent at least a year and a half overseas. Very unusual for a nurse.

Chris

#13 Bob Hudson

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 06:52 AM

On a side note, it seems your Aunt Agnes spent at least a year and a half overseas. Very unusual for a nurse.

Chris


Her hospital (she was chief nurse) started treating non-US patients in 1917. For those who haven't see it, I have more photos of her WWI service at http://www.usmilitar...showtopic=28685 as well as excerpts from her diary.

#14 Bugme

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 08:26 AM

Now what is driving me crazy is trying to match the collar trim of this uniform to the colors used for the various Red Cross services:
rctrim.jpg

Maybe it's my screen but, I'm seeing tan.

#15 cwnorma

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 09:14 AM

Maybe it's my screen but, I'm seeing tan.


In 1914, still wearing their pre-war uniform with its dark blue coat and bright red trousers, the French military recognized the immediate need to put their field forces into a reduced-visibility uniform. The material chosen was to be named "tricouleur" and was to be composed of blue, white and red threads (the same colors as the French national flag). The resultant fabric would have been a muted brown when seen from a distance. Unfortunately, it was found that the color-fast aniline dyes needed for the red color "garance" were made primarily in Germany and a suitable substitute was unavailable in quantity from any Allied source. The French military decided to press ahead with the plan however, eliminating garance red with the resultant fabric, woven of blue and white threads, coming to be known as "horizon bleu."

Throughout the war, color-fast red aniline dyes continued to be unavailable to the Allied Nations, with various (less than satisfactory) vegetable dies were used in attempts to fill the void. The result is today, many WW1 era Allied-nation red items have faded to various shades of pink.

Chris

#16 WS60

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 01:51 PM

:thumbsup:

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