MEMORIES of the way people – particularly women – came to the aid of injured soldiers in the First World War are being pulled together for a major local history project.

North Yorkshire’s County Records Office has won a £9,800 lottery grant for the project – Home Comforts: Red Cross Auxiliary Hospitals in the North Riding 1914-19.

Organised in partnership with the British Red Cross Society, it is aimed at collecting as much information as possible while memories of the period are still alive and memorabilia is still available.

Some 1,500 nursing beds were provided at 32 locations in the North Riding, in properties ranging from schools and private houses to County Hall in Northallerton. More than 10,000 patients were treated in 1918 alone.

Properties and nursing care were provided on a voluntary basis, and local women from all levels of society took the lead in organising and sustaining the provision.

As well as actually nursing injured soldiers, they engaged in a wide range of peripheral activities – from making jam to going onto the moors to collect sphagnum moss, which was used to dress wounds on the battlefield.

The county’s executive member for archives, Cllr Chris Metcalfe said: “We are hopeful we will be able to rescue and record for posterity how the women of North Yorkshire threw themselves into the task of providing care and comfort for wounded soldiers.”

The project team is appealing for documents, letters, photographs, memorabilia or family stories connected with the hospitals, which will be used as the basis for talks, exhibitions, and a commemorative publication.

Contact North Yorkshire County Record Office on 01609-777585 or email

*See Friday’s Northern Echo for a guide of the church services and events being held over the next few days as the region prepares to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.