The ‘Netley Album’ is an exceptional pictorial account of the Netley Hospital during the early years of the First World War. Originally constructed in 1856, Netley had the attached hutted Red Cross hospital constructed as an array of buildings at the rear of the main building, which increased the number of beds at the site to 2500.
The album contains numerous black and white photographs of the soldiers, nurses and patients who passed through the hospital, depicting them at work and at play, the latter including golf and a shoot! A number of the pages contain the signatures of many of the nurses who served alongside a number of individually posed shoots of some of these nurses. Numerous soldiers from the Indian sub-continent are portrayed, both as patients and as orderlies, many resplendent in their various styles of turbans
During 1916 a contingent of doctors and nurses from the Japanese Red Cross rendered their services. Their stay is aptly represented through a number of formal pictures. The nurses uniforms are of a distinctly different style to that of the British nurses though the doctor’s uniforms are distinctly similar to that of a British Army officer. A number of unique Japanese styled postcards add a splash of colour to the album.
The war years were witness to a number of royal visits by The King, George V and Queen Mary alongside that of Queen Alexandra – a number of the relevant pictures feature the royals in an informal manner as they are conducted around the sight. A few candid shoots of David Lloyd George’s visit as he makes his way around carefully past a wooden hut are featured.
The uniqueness of the album is the lack of formality and candidacy depicted which generates a vivid picture of life at the hospital at the time. The album, one of many that relate to the Great War, nicely compliments the number or individual diaries of this time that the museum’s archives retain. The album is in its original state and in fine condition. Unfortunately, the creator of the album is unknown though the embossed initials ‘E A C L’ on the cover may indeed relate to the originator.
Archive catalogue number: RAMC/CF/3/3/1/231/NETL