Bromley's Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospitals

An introduction to the history of the many VAD Hospitals in Bromley

Megan Cable

A black and white photograph of a group of men and women, some seated and some standing. The men are dressed in military iniforms and the women are dressed in nurse's uniforms

Kent 54 VAD outside St Mary’s Church Hall, Bromley

Establishing Bromley VAD Hospitals

Voluntary Aid Detachments were established in 1909 with the help of the Red Cross and the Order of St John. The role of the Voluntary Aid Detachment doctors, nurses and assistants were to provide nursing and medical assistance to injured soldiers.

The first men’s detachment was Kent/1 VAD, Dover, and the first women’s detachment was Kent/2 VAD, Ramsgate. The Chief of Staff of the Kent VADs was Dr J. Horatio Yolland, who resided at 53, Bromley Common.



In August 1914, VAD hospitals sprung up promptly in church halls, public buildings such as schools and in private houses, accommodating anything from ten to more than 200 patients. Some wealthy residents gave up their own homes for use of hospitals.

Black and white photograph showing the exterior and grounds on oakley VAD Hospital. Nurses and patients can be seen on the lawn.

Kent 50 VAD. Wounded soldiers with nurses on the lawn at Oakley House VAD Hospital in 1916.

Bromley VADs 1914-1919

There were 15 VAD units in the Bromley district who operated 57 VAD Hospitals. These included; Kent/96 VAD, Beckenham’s large 240 bed at Balgowan; Kent/50 VAD, Bromley Common, hospital at Oakley and Kent/82 VAD, Hayes, 7 bed hospital at Coney Hall.







Detachments were required to meet at least once a month, and women had to work towards gaining certificates in first aid. Due to a lack of male volunteers women would also gain experience in outdoor activities such as stretcher duties.

Black and white photograph of nurses training

Kent 50 VAD nurses training in 1912









By the summer of 1914 there were over 2500 VADs established in Britain and by the end of the war Bromley VADs had cared for 125,000 patients. This was 30,000 more than any other county in England.

Black and white photograph showing a nurse dressing the foot of a soldier.

Kent 50 VAD Nurse Fox cares for Marcel, a wounded Belgian soldier.

This page was added by Simon McKeon on 24/02/2014.

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