The formation of the British Red Cross

When war broke out between France and Prussia in July 1870, Colonel Loyd-Lindsay (later Lord Wantage of Lockinge) wrote a letter to The Times. He called for a National Society to be formed in Britain just like in other European nations.

On 4 August 1870, a public meeting was held in London and a resolution passed:

a National Society be formed in this country for aiding sick and wounded soldiers in time of war and that the said Society be formed upon the rules laid down by the Geneva Convention of 1864.

The British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War was formed. It gave aid and relief to both warring armies during the Franco-Prussian War and in other wars and campaigns during the 19th century. This was done under the protection of the red cross emblem.

In 1905, the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War was renamed as the British Red Cross. It was granted its first Royal Charter in 1908 by HM King Edward VII. Queen Alexandra became its president.

The Red Cross needed many skilled volunteers for its wartime role. In 1907, a permanent structure of local Branches was adopted and extended the presence of the British Red Cross to communities around the country.

The Voluntary Aid Scheme was introduced in 1909 and ensured that Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) were formed across the UK. Their members would provide aid to the territorial medical forces in times of war.