Great War - British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem
A Liverpool-born portraitist before the Great War, Gilbert Rogers enlisted as a stretcher bearer in the RAMC and served extensively on The Western Front and elswhere.
Rogers created one of the most striking images that portrayed the awful reality of that great conflict; The Dead Stretcher Bearer
"War in the Middle East. British capture Basra and mount an unsuccessful campaign toward Baghdad. Ottomans fail to capture Suez, but check the British advance in Palestine. Britain encourages Arab Revolt against the weakened Ottomans, then captures Baghdad, Jerusalem and, in 1918, Damascus. The dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the seeds of future conflicts."
Hope Elizabeth Hope-Clarke CBE
1870 (Calcutta) - 1950 (Wimbledon)
A woman of private means, Miss Hope-Clarke set up the Silver Thimble Fund after her own silver thimble wore out while making clothes for troops in the trenches. It occurred to her that many others, too might have spare or worn thimbles - and other items made from precious materials (tributes) - in their sewing baskets that could be recycled for cash. This modest, yet inspired idea mushroomed into an extraordinary fund-raising campaign that had a huge and direct impact on the supply of medical and ambulance equipment across all fronts during the Great War - and thereafter.
Having published a letter in the Times (July 8th 1915) asking for donations of silver thimbles, Miss Hope-Clarke was inundated and decided to set up the Silver Thimble Fund with the patronage of Queen Alexandra and under the Presidency of Lady Maud Wilbraham to provide extra humanitarian resources for British and Commonwealth troops. All this she administered from her private home in Crescent Road, Wimbledon, London SW19.
Gilbert Rogers (1881–1956)
Left, an orderly and, below an officer from;
"The Order of St. John and the British Red Cross Society first came together in the 1914-1918 War, to provide help to the Armed Forces Medical Services. Their work ranged from setting up temporary hospitals to answering enquiries about prisoners of war. Members also joined Voluntary Aid Detachments as nurses."
Subsequently, 160 collection centres across the World were established and around £60,000 was collected to buy 5 Launches for Mesopotamia (operated by the British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem), 15 motor Ambulances, Mobile X-Ray Units, a mobile Dental Surgery as well as making donations to specific War Charities. Beds were also sponsored in hospitals to alleviate suffering of war casualties.
The first two motor ambulances named Wimbledon and Merton in honour of the areas of London where the charity was based.
Following the end of the Great War, Miss Hope-Clarke travelled extensively in the United States and lived in New Orleans for some time before returning to the UK in the 1930s.At the beginning of the Second World War the fund was restarted and with the money collected the commissioners purchase two ''flying ambulances, a mobile field hospital and an air-sea rescue launch 'Silver Thimble'. The total collected in both wars was £232,495 - to the equivalent of millions of pounds in 'today's money'. The charity was finally removed from the register of the Charities Commission as late as 1995.
Miss Hope-Clarke was awarded the OBE in Nov. 1920 and CBE (January 1949) and died in Wimbledon in July 1950.
DH.89A Rapide ambulance aircraft, Z7258 Women of the Empire and Z7261 Women of Britain
flying low over Hendon, Middlesex, the day before they were presented to No. 24 Squadron RAF
by the Silver Thimble Fund. Originally civilian aircraft, Z7258 (formerly G-AFMH) and
Z7261 (G-AFMJ) were impressed for the RAF in July 1940.
60 ft Air Sea Rescue Pinnace P 1288 "Silver Thimble",
presented to the RAF by the Silver Thimble Fund, cruising off Gosport, Hampshire.
The IWM has the 50,000th thimble as a part of their collection.
In 1919 two shelters were built in Kensington Gardens to commemorate the work of the Silver Thimble Fund. They are still there and have a Grade II listing.