Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust opens up the archives to commemorate the World War One centenary

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is hosting a range of events to commemorate the World War One centenary, including an exhibition of photographs showing the interaction between medical staff and the military during the First World War.

Commissioned by Imperial College Healthcare Charity, the exhibition ‘Medicine during the First World War: Inter Arma Caritas’ (Amidst the Arms, Love) is a series of 24 images sourced from the Imperial War Museums Archive. The works focus on the brave men and women who tended to wounded soldiers during the course of the Great War.

The exhibition, whose name is taken from the inscription on the British Red Cross Society War Service Medal, contains images taken on the battlefield including the Battle of the Somme, Passchendaele and also on the Western Front. Among the images are some taken of wounded servicemen, affected by bullet and artillery wounds, gas, gangrene and shell shock, being brought to what was Charing Cross Hospital on Agar Street in central London before it eventually moved to its current Fulham location.

The Trust’s hospitals also have other links to World War One including possession of Alexander Fleming’s pocket medical kit which he used while out on the front line. The kit contains a number of small phials of pain relief such as pure ether, morphine and caffeine.

At St Mary’s, Princess Arthur of Connaught trained as a nurse during World War One, the first member of the British Royal family to do so. Shortages of doctors brought on by the medical staff leaving for the armed forces meant that unqualified medical students at St Mary’s and Charing Cross’ brought in to work as housemen to serve the civilian population, with both medical schools admitting female medical students for the first time in 1916.

Dr Tracey Batten, chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said:

“The 11th of November marks the centenary of World War One. A war that saw many staff from the hospitals that now make up Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust sign up to use their medical skills and knowledge to help others on the frontline. 

“The skills and compassion shown by our medical staff on the front line of the Great War are qualities that our staff continue to convey today.

“Our events will commemorate and celebrate the lives of those who sadly never returned to their duties at our hospitals.”

Each of the Trust’s main sites will also be holding a remembrance and wreath laying service from 10:45 on Tuesday 11 November. The services will comprise of readings, prayers, and a wreath-laying ceremony followed by a two-minute silence at 11.00.

For more information please contact the press office.