Love on the Wards – Broadland During the First World War

This post was written and researched by Nicola Hems, Curator at the Museum of the Broads in Stalham.

Dorothy Brindid met David (Dai) David in August 1918.  She was a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse at Ingham Auxiliary War Hospital and he was a patient.  Dai had enlisted in October 1915 and had served in France.  He was a bombardier in the 321 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, and had been sent to Ingham to recuperate after tonsillitis.  He had previously suffered from TB.

Dorothy was the daughter of a farm worker and a Dorothy Brindidschool teacher from Hickling.  Together with Dorothy’s brother, Haylett, they lived at Hook Farm, Stubb.  Dorothy was 19 when she volunteered to work at Ingham Hospital, in March 1917.  She enrolled as a supernumerary nurse and stayed there until September 1918, cycling in each day from Hickling.

Ingham Old Hall was an Auxiliary War Hospital from 29 October 1914 to 28 January 1919. The Commandant of the Ingham War Hospital was Sarah Gamzu Gurney MBE.  In total, 1082 patients were admitted, usually to convalesce after a serious injury or illness.

The nurses washed, dressed, bandaged and generally cared for their patients.  Dorothy's id cardPrior to working, they had to pass exams in both first aid and nursing.  However, medical equipment was basic.  For example, Dorothy recalled that only saline was available as a disinfectant for cleaning wounds, equipment and furniture.

Whilst the War Office paid a small daily allowance for the care of patients, the running costs and equipment needed was often paid for by the owners of the houses and by local fundraising.  The training and the uniforms were usually paid for by the girls themselves, and a nurse had to sew on her own red cross.   Once appointed, the volunteers could only claim travel, board, and laundry expenses.

Dai and Dorothy married in December 1918.  Dai was still in the army and working on railway construction.  He was officially discharged on 09 March 1919.  The couple moved to Wales and Dai resumed working at the steelworks at Port Talbot.  Dai and Dorothy had one son, Glyndwr, born at the end of 1919, at Dorothy’s parents’ house.  They lived in Hickling after Dai’s retirement and until his death.  Dorothy died in Ipswich in 1989.

Dorothy's certificatePhotos and information reproduced by kind permission of Carol Prosser, granddaughter of Dorothy and Dai David.





Further information from

The Museum is currently hosting a fabulous Broadland During the First World War exhibition and we highly recommend a visit!


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