ROSS, [Nurse Vera]. Nurse's WWI Autograph Book Compiled During the Spanish Flu Pandemic. [1917-c.1925.]
Small 4to., padded black leather with 'Autographs' printed in gilt to upper board; gilt turn-ins, marbled effect endpapers; pp. 162 with paper stock in pink and green pastels; a scrap book containing numerous pen and ink illustrations, tipped-in cards, newspaper clippings, pressed flowers, printed cartoons, photographs, silk bookmarks and RAF stickers, along with manuscript signatures poems, and drawings, many portraits, some behind mounted tissue guards; the binding lightly worn with a few small closed tears to the leather; light browning throughout, with some of the ephemera come loose from the fittings, and some evidence of smudging or staining; a remarkable survival, nonetheless.
A unique item, seemingly belonging to the Ross Family, with included entries mentioning James W. S. Ross, Alan Ross of Boilerine Ltd. (Hydrological Chemists), and Leslie A. Ross (A.M. Royal Air Force). Many of the entries centre around Nurse Ross, whose image can be found on pages 25, along with [101 and 119]. Ross' parents were Alice M. Ross and James W. G. Ross, and she herself worked at the Redhill War Hospital between the years of 1917 and 1918 along with the St. Ann V.A.D (Voluntary Aid Detachment) in Lewes. She is shown here to have been an exemplary nurse, and involved in the care of patients during the Spanish Flu epidemic at the time. On May 13th 1920 she was presented to her majesty Queen Mary.
The entries within this volume are typical for the period, and include numerous jokes, cards ("The above Christmas card was sent to me by a patient I nursed in the St. Ann's Red Cross; thoughts ("What does a man marry a woman for? Just to sew his buttons on?"); signatures along with annotations by Nurse Ross ("This boy joined up at the age of 15 years, and is seriously wounded in leg"); and poems ("God made the bees/ and the bees made Honey/ Nurses do the work/ But sisters get the money"). Most are signed by servicemen, including W. P. Thorpe, Sergt. 5th Royal Sussex Regt, Bombardier H. Fairbrother, R.F.A, Jack Eagle ("The above Christmas card was sent to me by a patient I nursed in St. Ann's Red Cross Auxiliary Hospital two and a half years after he returned to Canada. VAD Nursing during the Great War). The pencil drawing of Nurse Ross is captioned 'The Rose that would shine in Picardy" and was drawn by her 'loving brother/ 21-10-18. Walter Vron-Somme/Picardy'.
The Redhill War Hospital was a new infirmary building requisitioned by the army in 1917 and officially opened on the 20th June 1917 by the Lord and Lady Ashcombe, the then Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, and his wife. It was affiliated with the Croydon War Hospital, and at the time of opening housed 80 beds for wounded and sick servicemen. It boasted an operating theatre along with X-Ray and massage departments, with the first patients arriving on 3rd July 1917. It was staffed by members of the Surrey/108 Voluntary Aid Detachment, becoming a base hospital, and receiving the wounded direct from overseas. The War Hospital closed on the 31st December 1918, but continued to provide care for discharged soldiers after this date.