Art UK has updated its cookies policy. By using this website you are agreeing to the use of cookies. To find out more read our updated Use of Cookies policy and our updated Privacy policy.

Close
150 years ago, on 4 August 1870, the British Red Cross was formed and began its mission to connect human kindness with human crisis, both in the UK and overseas. The organisation joined the global Red Cross movement to work towards the shared goal of helping people in need, no matter who or where they are. This exhibition features works of art from the British Red Cross Museum and other collections around the UK, showing the work of the British Red Cross and the people who have helped spread the power of kindness.
58 artworks

.

An Advanced Dressing Station, France: Cars Supplied by the British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem, Assisting in the Evacuation of the Wounded
© reproduced with the permission of the artist's estate. Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

Introduction

The British Red Cross has been helping people in crisis for 150 years. The organisation played a vital role during the First and Second World Wars, providing relief to sick and wounded members of the armed forces, prisoners of war and civilians. From 1919, the role of the charity expanded to provide health and social care in peacetime, as well as to respond to natural disasters and teach lifesaving first aid skills. From its early days, the British Red Cross held a firm belief in the importance of supporting refugees, migrants and those seeking asylum, and remains committed to this cause today.

An Advanced Dressing Station, France: Cars Supplied by the British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem, Assisting in the Evacuation of the Wounded 1918–1919
Haydn Reynolds Mackey (1881–1979) and Gilbert Rogers (1881–1956)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1859

Jean Henri Dunant (1828–1910)
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

Henry Dunant (1828–1910)

The Red Cross movement began with one man’s inspiration for a kinder world. Henry Dunant, a Swiss businessman, witnessed the suffering of wounded soldiers in the aftermath of the Battle of Solferino in Northern Italy in 1859. Dunant was shocked by the sight of thousands of injured and dying soldiers on both sides left without medical care. His immediate response was to bring local people together to provide some relief to the wounded soldiers, to feed them and comfort them.

On return to Geneva, Dunant wrote a book entitled 'A Memory of Solferino' in which he described the horrors of war he had witnessed. He proposed that all countries should form neutral voluntary relief societies to care for the wounded in wartime.

Jean Henri Dunant (1828–1910)
unknown artist
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1863

British Red Cross Flag
© Henry Mee. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

The Geneva Convention

In 1863, a committee was formed in response to Henry Dunant’s ideas, initially organising the Geneva International Conference, which eventually led to the adoption of the Geneva Convention – an international agreement recognising the neutral status of medical services and the wounded. Great Britain became a party to the treaty on 18 February 1865.

The Geneva Conventions form the basis of international humanitarian law for the humane treatment of wounded or captured military personnel, medical personnel and non-military civilians during wars or armed conflicts.

The Red Cross emblem is a protective sign used during armed conflict, and its use is restricted by law.

British Red Cross Flag 1995
Henry Mee (b.1955)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1870

Robert Loyd-Lindsay (1832–1901), 1st Baron Wantage
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

Robert Loyd-Lindsay (1832–1901), 1st Baron Wantage

On 15 July 1870, the Franco-Prussian War was declared. Colonel Robert Loyd-Lindsey, a war veteran who had experienced the horrors of war, wrote a letter calling for the formation of a voluntary aid society in Britain to join the global Red Cross movement, and this letter was published in The Times newspaper on 22 July 1870. Many influential people responded positively to support the establishment of a national society.

At a public meeting held in London on 4 August 1870, a resolution was passed to create a national society in Britain to provide relief to sick and wounded soldiers in wartime. This was the start of the British Red Cross, initially named the National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War.

Robert Loyd-Lindsay (1832–1901), 1st Baron Wantage 1995
Mollie Dunn (active 1995)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1870

Sir John Furley
Photo credit: Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery

Sir John Furley (1836-1919)

Sir John Furley was one of the first in Britain to recognise the value of the Red Cross movement. He helped convince Robert Loyd-Lindsay to write the letter to The Times newspaper that led to the birth of the National Society for Aid to the Sick & Wounded in War, later renamed British Red Cross. He was a founding committee member of both the National Society and St John Ambulance Association.

Furley made a significant contribution to the development of first aid and technology to improve conditions for the wounded, including stretchers and a hospital train.

Sir John Furley
Hugh de Twenebrokes Glazebrook (1855–1937)
Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery

1870

Lady Wantage (1837–1920)
© the artist. Photo credit: Northampton Borough Council

Harriet Loyd-Lindsey, Lady Wantage (1837-1920)

Despite the challenges women faced in the 19th century, women played a significant role in the foundation of the British Red Cross. A Ladies Committee was set up in 1870 with 48 members.

Harriett Sarah Loyd-Lindsey was the wife of Robert Loyd-Lindsey, who acquired the additional surname of Loyd from her. She was a founding member of the Ladies Committee of the National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War. She was also a member of the Workhouse Infirmary Nursing Association and President of the North Berkshire branch of the Anti-Suffrage League.

In 1883, she was awarded the Order of the Red Cross for her humanitarian work.


Lady Wantage (1837–1920) 2017
Richard Austin (b.1959)
Northampton Borough Council

1870

Florence Nightingale (1820–1910)
Photo credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

Florence Nightingale (1820–1910)

Florence Nightingale is most famous for her role in the foundation of modern nursing, her pioneering work in the graphical presentation of statistics, and her support for women’s rights. Her work caring for soldiers during the Crimean War was a direct inspiration to Henry Dunant.

Nightingale was a founding member of the Ladies Committee and participated in the work of the society until her death.

Florence Nightingale (1820–1910) 1859–1862
John Steell (1804–1891) and Alessandro Parlanti (c.1862–c.1921)
National Portrait Gallery, London

1870

Jane 'Jeanie' Elizabeth Hughes (1828–1877), Mrs Nassau John Senior
Photo credit: National Trust Images

Jane Nassau Senior (1828-1877)

Jane Nassau Senior was Britain’s first female civil servant and a founding member of the Ladies’ Committee of the National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded. During the Crimean War, Senior helped to send medical and relief supplies for wounded soldiers. She supported a range of political causes; she supported the Union in the American Civil War and advocated for Trade unionism. Senior also embraced anti-imperialism, anti-racism, and anti-militarism.

Senior was awarded one of the first British Red Cross medals in 1871 in recognition of her work.

Jane 'Jeanie' Elizabeth Hughes (1828–1877), Mrs Nassau John Senior 1857–1858
George Frederic Watts (1817–1904)
National Trust, Wightwick Manor

1905

Alexandra of Denmark (1844–1925), Queen Consort of King Edward VII
Photo credit: Government Art Collection

Queen Alexandra (1844-1925)

Queen Alexandra had a long involvement with the British Red Cross. In February 1885, as Princess of Wales, she formed her own branch of the Society to help raise money for medical aid to the sick and wounded soldiers. In 1905, she became President and her husband, King Edward VII, became Patron of the British Red Cross. In 1908, Queen Alexandra signed the petition to grant the Royal Charter to the British Red Cross. Her continued involvement included the purchase of a building in Richmond for what would become the Star and Garter Home for sailors and soldiers with injuries or disabilities.

Alexandra of Denmark (1844–1925), Queen Consort of King Edward VII
Luke Fildes (1843–1927) (after)
Government Art Collection

1914

Sorting Bandages, British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem Medical Stores, Tottenham Court Road, London
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

The First World War

Following the outbreak of the First World War, the British Red Cross formed the Joint War Committee with the Order of St John. The Committee worked together to fundraise, provide resources and services to people affected by the war, and organised Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) in Britain and overseas.

With the majority of men conscripted to fight on the front, it was left mainly to the women to take the lead on providing vital aid to the sick and wounded soldiers and sailors at home and abroad. Out of more than 90,000 British Red Cross VADs, around 66,000 were women. Some refused to take a salary, and many worked at a low rate of pay. These VADs played a significant role in changing and saving lives in the wake of global conflict.

1914

A Voluntary Aid Detachment Motor Driver
© IWM (Imperial War Museums). Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

Women Ambulance Drivers

The British Red Cross established the Motor Ambulance Department, and around 2,000 motor ambulances were sent overseas to various destinations throughout the war. As more men enlisted in the armed forces, many women volunteered as ambulance drivers. Although driving motor vehicles was previously considered inappropriate for women, the war changed perceptions as women successfully carried out ‘men’s jobs.’

A Voluntary Aid Detachment Motor Driver c.1918–1919
Gilbert Rogers (1881–1956)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1914

Medical Officer Attending the Wounded
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

The Red Cross Armband

Painting showing a medical officer treating a wounded soldier on the battlefield during the First World War. The use of the red cross emblem on an armband ensures that relief workers can be easily identified and protected in conflict situations.

Medical Officer Attending the Wounded 1914–1918
Septimus Edwin Scott (1879–1962)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1915

Ypres, 1915
© IWM (Imperial War Museums). Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

Second Battle of Ypres

The Second Battle of Ypres took place from 22 April to 25 May 1915.

Ypres, 1915 c.1919
Gilbert Rogers (1881–1956)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1916

British Red Cross Ambulance, Italian Front, 1916
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)
British Red Cross Ambulance, Italian Front, 1916 1918
Guy Lipscombe (1881–1952)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1916

Miss Hedvica M. Shlehover in British Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment Uniform
Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

Belgian Refugees

Miss Hedvica M. Shlehover enrolled as a member of the British Red Cross in September 1914 and undertook various duties including working with Belgian refugees in the UK. During the war, around 250,000 Belgian refugees arrived in the UK and the British Red Cross provided vital support.

For over a century, the British Red Cross has helped protect millions of refugees in the UK and overseas who have been forced to leave their homes fearing persecution. The first refugee service was organised in 1897 when a conflict between Turkey and Greece resulted in large numbers of refugees from Thessaly and Crete.

Miss Hedvica M. Shlehover in British Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment Uniform 1910
Hans Knoechl (1850–1927)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1916

Lady of the Black Horse
Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

Mabel St Claire Stobart (1864-1937)

At the outbreak of the First World War, Mabel St Claire Stobart formed the Women’s National League Service and set up hospitals in Belgium and France after receiving invitations from the Belgian and French Red Cross societies.

Mabel’s team travelled to Serbia in 1915 and was asked by the Royal Serbian Army to organise the First Serbian-English Field Hospital. With the invasion of Serbia, Mabel and her team was part of a countrywide retreat that lasted 10 weeks. The painting shows Mabel riding a black horse, wearing a Red Cross armband, leading her hospital unit with the sick and wounded on an 800-mile escape over snow-capped mountains. They reached the safety of Scutari on 23 December 1915.

Lady of the Black Horse 1916
George James Rankin (1864–1937)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1916

The Special Surgical Auxiliary Hospital at the 'Star and Garter', Richmond: The Dining Room
Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

The Star and Garter Home

In 1916, Queen Mary expressed concern for the long-term care of servicemen injured in the First World War. She donated the Star and Garter Hotel to the British Red Cross and asked for it to be converted into a “permanent haven” for ex-servicemen with disabilities.

The Star and Garter Home initially admitted only the sick and wounded soldiers of the First World War, but over the years many thousands of ex-servicemen and women with disabilities or injuries benefited from the special care provided by the Home. Respite care was offered from 1971 and ex-servicewomen became eligible in 1986.

The Special Surgical Auxiliary Hospital at the 'Star and Garter', Richmond: The Dining Room c.1918
John Hodgson Lobley (1878–1948)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1918

A British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem Officer in France
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)
A British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem Officer in France 1918–1919
Haydn Reynolds Mackey (1881–1979)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1918

Miss Moore in British Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment Uniform
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

Miss Moore, VAD nurse

Portrait of Miss Moore painted by her sister Dorothy Winifred Moore. The two Moore sisters served as British Red Cross VADs during the First World War.

Miss Moore in British Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment Uniform 1920
Dorothy W. Moore (1897–1973)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1918

Medical Storeman: British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem Medical Stores, Tottenham Court Road, London
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

Medical Stores

1918

A British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem Stretcher-Bearer
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)
A British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem Stretcher-Bearer 1918–1919
Haydn Reynolds Mackey (1881–1979)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1918

Prince's Skating Rink, Knightsbridge, London, during the War: British Red Cross Society Store
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)
Prince's Skating Rink, Knightsbridge, London, during the War: British Red Cross Society Store 1918–1919
Haydn Reynolds Mackey (1881–1979)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1918

The Canteen at the Headquarters of the Joint War Council of the British Red Cross Society and Order of St John, 19 Berkeley Street, W1
Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1918

British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem Workers Attending Wounded on their Arrival at Boulogne Station
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1918

The British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem Hospital Ship Passing through the Suez Canal
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)
The British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem Hospital Ship Passing through the Suez Canal 1918–1919
Haydn Reynolds Mackey (1881–1979)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1918

Wounded Passing through Snow Hill Railway Station, Birmingham
Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)
Wounded Passing through Snow Hill Railway Station, Birmingham c.1918
John Hodgson Lobley (1878–1948)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1918

The British Red Cross Society Hospital at the Episcopal Modern Schools, Exeter
Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

Auxiliary hospitals

One of the many important services that the British Red Cross provided during the First World War were auxiliary hospitals and convalescent homes for wounded servicemen. The Red Cross began looking for suitable properties that could be used as hospitals prior to the outbreak of the war, and many people offered their homes.

As soon as wounded men began to arrive from overseas, the temporary hospitals were largely available for use, with equipment and staff in place. By the end of the war, the British Red Cross administered and staffed around 3,000 auxiliary hospitals and convalescent homes across the UK.

The British Red Cross Society Hospital at the Episcopal Modern Schools, Exeter c.1918
John Hodgson Lobley (1878–1948)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1918

Interior of Shrubland Park Hospital, Barham, Suffolk, Showing Staff and a Patient
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

Shrubland Park Hospital

Painting of a British Red Cross VAD and a trained nurse treating a patient named Mr Waspe of Claydon in Shrubland Park Hall in Suffolk. Shrubland Park Hall was loaned by the Saumarez family for use as a hospital during the war.

Interior of Shrubland Park Hospital, Barham, Suffolk, Showing Staff and a Patient 1919
Marion Saumarez (1885–1978)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1919

A British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem Motor Driver
© IWM (Imperial War Museums). Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)
A British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem Motor Driver c.1919
Gilbert Rogers (1881–1956)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1919

A British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem Officer in Mesopotamia
© IWM (Imperial War Museums). Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)
A British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem Officer in Mesopotamia c.1919
Gilbert Rogers (1881–1956)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1919

A British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem Hospital Ship and Barges on the Tigris
© IWM (Imperial War Museums). Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1919

A British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem Hospital Barge Orderly on the Tigris
© IWM (Imperial War Museums). Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1919

A British Red Cross Society and Order of St John of Jerusalem Barge on the Tigris at Amara: British Red Cross Society and Order of St John Headquarters in the Distance
© IWM (Imperial War Museums). Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1919

Loading Wounded at Boulogne
Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)
Loading Wounded at Boulogne 1919
John Hodgson Lobley (1878–1948)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1919

Charing Cross Station: Detraining Wounded by the British Red Cross Society and Order of St John
Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)
Charing Cross Station: Detraining Wounded by the British Red Cross Society and Order of St John 1919
John Hodgson Lobley (1878–1948)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1939

The Grand Priory of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in England, St John's Gate, Clerkenwell, EC
Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

The Order of St John

During the Second World War, the British Red Cross formed the Joint War Organisation with the Order of St John. Just as they had done during the First World War, the Organisation worked together to fundraise, provide resources and services to people affected by the war, and organised Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) in Britain and overseas.

The Grand Priory of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in England, St John's Gate, Clerkenwell, EC c.1918
John Hodgson Lobley (1878–1948)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1945

Doris Clare Zinkeisen
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

Doris Zinkeisen

Doris Zinkeisen was a highly acclaimed society portraitist and a well-known costume and set designer. During the First World War and Second World Wars, Doris volunteered as a British Red Cross VAD nurse in hospitals. Combining her humanitarian work with her artistic skills, Doris produced paintings of her patients.

Shortly after the Second World War started in 1939, the British government set up the War Artists Advisory Committee. Of approximately 400 artists commissioned, only 52 were women. Doris was commissioned at the end of the war to record and reflect the work of the Joint War Organisation.

In those years before TV cameras and 24-hour news, people relied on photographs and paintings to illustrate what war was really like.

Doris Clare Zinkeisen exhibited 1929
Doris Clare Zinkeisen (1898–1991)
National Portrait Gallery, London

1945

C Ward, 101 British General Hospital, Louvain
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

Hospital Ward, Louvain

Painting of a hospital ward in Louvain in Belgium. Many British Red Cross VADs were sent to work in hospitals in Europe.

During the First World War, Doris volunteered as a VAD nurse in a hospital in Northwood, Middlesex caring for soldiers injured on the front. She volunteered as a VAD nurse again during the Second World War and nursed wounded survivors of air raids in St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London.

C Ward, 101 British General Hospital, Louvain 1945
Doris Clare Zinkeisen (1898–1991)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1945

Air Ambulance Being Unloaded near Bruges
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

Transporting the Wounded

Travelling around north-west Europe by lorry or air from a nearby RAF base, Doris Zinkeisen sketched images in different places and then transformed them into oil paintings in her studio. Her studio was in Brussels at the Joint War Commission’s headquarters, which had been the German headquarters during the occupation.

Air Ambulance Being Unloaded near Bruges 1945
Doris Clare Zinkeisen (1898–1991)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1945

British Red Cross Issuing Comforts to Prisoners of War at Brussels
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

Repatriation of Prisoners of War

The painting features a British Red Cross relief team issuing comforts to prisoners of war at an airstrip in Brussels before they were flown home to England.

Relief items provided by the British Red Cross to repatriated prisoners of war included comfort bags, each containing essentials such as toothpaste and toothbrush, shaving equipment, face cloth, soap, cigarettes and chocolate.

British Red Cross Issuing Comforts to Prisoners of War at Brussels 1945
Doris Clare Zinkeisen (1898–1991)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1945

Feeding Liberated Prisoners of War before They Are Flown Home, Brussels Airport
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

Repatriation of Prisoners of War

Feeding Liberated Prisoners of War before They Are Flown Home, Brussels Airport 1945
Doris Clare Zinkeisen (1898–1991)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1945

Human Laundry, Belsen, April 1945
Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

Volunteers Treating Patients at Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp

Doris Zinkeisen was the first artist to enter the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp after it was liberated on 15 April 1945. She would have witnessed around 13,000 unburied bodies and 60,000 inmates, most of them sick and starving. Doris stayed at the camp until it was evacuated and burned down. In letters she wrote to her husband, she described the horrors that had taken place- “The shock of Belsen was never to be forgotten”.

Human Laundry, Belsen, April 1945 1945
Doris Clare Zinkeisen (1898–1991)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1945

The Burning Down of Huts in Camp 1, Belsen Concentration Camp
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

The Burning of Bergen-Belsen

Six days after the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was liberated on 15 April 1945, teams from the British Red Cross arrived to provide vital aid to around 60,000 people who were sick and starving. The overcrowded and unsanitary conditions had enabled diseases such as typhus to spread, leaving many of the camp’s inmates in urgent need of medical care. The huts previously occupied by the prisoners were burned to the ground to prevent the spread of the typhus epidemic and louse infestation.

The Burning Down of Huts in Camp 1, Belsen Concentration Camp 1945
Doris Clare Zinkeisen (1898–1991)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1945

Belsen Camp: The Compound for Women
Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp

More than 50,000 people died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in northern Germany during the Second World War. Those imprisoned included Jewish people and other victims of Nazi persecution. The well-known diarist Anne Frank and her sister Margot were among those held captive here.

British forces liberated Bergen-Belsen on 15 April 1945. When the troops entered the camp, they found thousands of unburied bodies and approximately 60,000 people who were sick and starving.

Belsen Camp: The Compound for Women 1945
Leslie Cole (1910–1976)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)

1942

Orderly on His Rounds in X Ward, Changi Gaol, Singapore, with Prisoners of War Suffering from Starvation and Beriberi
Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

Changi Jail

On 15 February 1942, Singapore surrendered to the invading Japanese army. This led to the internment of around 2,800 civilians in Changi Jail in the east of Singapore, a prison initially built to house 600 prisoners. By the end of 1945, there were approximately 4,500 interned, now held in a former Royal Air Force barracks. The civilians interned were individuals who lived and worked in the Far East. They were mainly British, but individuals also included Australians, Canadians, Dutch, and Iraqis.

The conditions in the jail were extremely harsh- the internees endured overcrowding, malnutrition and diseases such as malaria. The Red Cross sent food parcels, but the internees received only a limited number.

1942

British Civilian and Military Far East Prisoner of War Memorial
© the copyright holders. Photo credit: Colleen Rowe Harvey / Art UK

Far East Prisoner of War

British Civilian and Military Far East Prisoner of War Memorial
Chris Roche and Ronald Searle (1920–2011)

1945

The Wounded
Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives
The Wounded 1946
Jan Štursa (1908–1925) (copy after)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1945

Major General George Lindsay (1880–1956)
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

Major General George Lindsay (1880-1956)

Major General George Lindsay was the Commissioner of the British Red Cross Commission for North-West Europe from November 1944.

Major General George Lindsay (1880–1956) 1945
Doris Clare Zinkeisen (1898–1991)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1947

Die Speisung: The Feeding
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

Red Cross Feeding Scheme

Painting depicting the feeding schemes carried out for refugees by the Red Cross in Germany in the aftermath of the Second World War.


Die Speisung: The Feeding 1948
Max Emanuel Huber (1903–1987)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1967

Morgan Lewis Mill, St Andrew, Barbados
© the artist. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives
Morgan Lewis Mill, St Andrew, Barbados 1967
Virgil Lancelot Broodhagen (b.1943)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1970

Niger Coastal Scene
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

Nigerian Coast

Painting of a Nigerian coastal scene presented to the British Red Cross team working with the Red Cross Society of Niger at the Niger Clinic at Port Harcourt.

The Red Cross Society of Niger was established in 1963.

Niger Coastal Scene 1970
unknown artist
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1985

Ethiopian Famine

A widespread famine affected Ethiopia from 1983 to 1985 resulting in the starvation of millions. A programme of aid was run by the International Federation of the Red Cross, then the League of Red Cross Societies, in partnership with the Ethiopian Red Cross. The British Red Cross launched the Ethiopia Appeal and raised more than £1.7 million.

This sculpture was inspired by the 1985 BBC documentary ‘African Calvary’. Filmed by the Kenyan photojournalist Mohamed Amin, this documentary covered the subject of drought in various African countries.

Famine 1985–1994
Lyn Constable Maxwell (b.1944)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1991

Is Capture Ever Humane? Stateless Kurds
© the artist. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

Gulf War

The 1990-1991 Gulf War, the conflict between Iraq and an international coalition supporting Kuwait, resulted in nearly three million refugees. Around 1.85 million Iraqi Kurds fled to the Turkish and Iranian borders. The British Red Cross sent relief equipment and £1 million to assist the Iranian Red Cresent to provide support Kurdish refugees.

The artist produced a series of paintings in support of refugees. She posed the question- ‘Who owns the most space on our planet; and have we any territorial rights to deny sharing it with other people?’

Is Capture Ever Humane? Stateless Kurds 1991
Eve Goldsmith Coxeter (b.1928)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1991

Is Famine Ever Permissible? Compulsory Migration Ethiopia
© the artist. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

Gulf War

Is Famine Ever Permissible? Compulsory Migration Ethiopia 1991
Eve Goldsmith Coxeter (b.1928)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1991

Is War That Beautiful? Is Surrender Ever Justified?
© the artist. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

Gulf War

Painting depicting captured servicemen knelt down with their hands on their heads. The artist based this painting on the Gulf War to show the suffering of prisoners of war.

The British Red Cross has a long history of providing relief to prisoners of war. The third Geneva Convention, first adopted in 1929, details the acceptable treatment of prisoners of war.

Is War That Beautiful? Is Surrender Ever Justified? 1991
Eve Goldsmith Coxeter (b.1928)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1993

Mother and Child
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

Mother and Child

Mother and Child 1993
John Taulbut (b.1934)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1998

Feet
© the artist. Photo credit: British Red Cross Museum and Archives

The Ottawa Convention

By the early 1990s, the field workers of the ICRC observed that the use of anti-personnel landmines had serious medical, humanitarian and social effects.

In 1994, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), called for a ban on anti-personnel landmines. The British Red Cross launched a non-political campaign to increase public awareness of the use of anti-personnel landmines.

The Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines, also called the Ottawa Convention, is a treaty which bans the use, stockpiling, production or transfer of anti-personnel mines. The treaty was opened for signature in 1997 and it was signed by 123 states, including the UK. There are currently 164 parties to the Ottawa Convention.

Feet 1998
Lucy Mary Hainsworth (b.1935)
British Red Cross Museum and Archives

1997

Diana, Princess of Wales
© National Portrait Gallery, London. Photo credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

Princess Diana

In January 1997, Princess Diana visited Angola on behalf of the British Red Cross. She spoke to landmine survivors and walked through a cleared corridor in a minefield. The visit generated huge publicity for the campaign to ban landmines.

Diana, Princess of Wales 1981
Bryan Organ (b.1935)
National Portrait Gallery, London