The Red Cross started in 1863. Swiss businessman Henry Dunant was appalled by the suffering of soldiers in battle that he proposed the establishment of relief societies, on a national basis, that would comprise volunteers who were trained in peace time to provide help to the suffering in times of war. These ideas led to the founding of an organisation that went on to become the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Geneva Convention, adopted in 1864, was also Dunant's idea.

The British Red Cross was formed in 1870, along the format already adopted in Europe. on 4 Aug 1870 a public meeting was held and passed a resolution to the effect that "a National Society be formed in this country for aiding sick and wounded soldiers in time of war and that the said Society be formed upon the Rules laid down by the Geneva Convention of 1864". As a result the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War was formed.

In his despatch of 2 Apr 1901, Lord Roberts mentioned the work of the BRCS:

"The heavy strain on the Army Medical Department was further much relieved by the patriotic efforts of the several committees and individuals who raised, equipped, and sent out complete hospitals."

Lord Roberts also mentions the work of the BRCS who equipped trains.

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(3 Records)

 Surname   Forename/inits   Regimental no   Rank   Notes 
FairbairnJMrOBE (1st Type, Military), Venerable Order of St John, Esquire's breast badge, QSA (1) CC (Mr J Fairbairn BRC Society). Spink Oct 99 no sale.
GilesH SMrQSA (1) Natal (Mr H S Giles B R C Society). City Coins Sep 03
YoungJ SColonelCVO (nr C392), KB Badge, 1st type breast badge, The Most Venerable Order of St. John, Knight of Grace's set of insignia, comprising neck badge and breast star, Abyssinia 1867-68 (Asst. Purvr. J. S. Young, Purvrs. Depmt.), SAGS (0) (Dept. Comy. J. S. Young, Commissariat Dept.), Egypt (1) The Nile 1884-85 (Major J. S. Young, Nat. Aid Socy.), QSA (1) CC (Colonel J. S. Young, B.R.C. Society), Jubilee 1897, Turkey, Order of Osmania, Third Class neck badge, Germany, Prussia, War Medal 1870-71, non-combatants, France, Society of War Wounded Cross 1870-71, Ottoman Empire, Russo-Turkish War Medal 1877, 2nd issue, Egypt, Khedive's Star 1884-6, Russia, Russo-Japanese War Red Cross Medal. DNW Jun 09.
CVO LG 26 June 1908. Knight Bachelor LG 24 December 1907. Knight of Grace of the Order of St. John 25 February 1896.
John Smith Young was born in June 1843, the son of Edward Young of Melrose Estate in Jamaica, and entered the Commissariat and Transport Staff as a Probationary Clerk in February 1860. Abyssinia 1867-68 Promoted to Established Clerk in May 1864, he first witnessed active service in the Abyssinia Expedition 1867-68, when he gained further advancement to Assistant Purveyor with charge of the hospital ship Golden Fleece (Medal). About this time, in addition to his military duties, Young was appointed a Joint Commissioner for the National Society for Aid to Sick and Wounded in War (NSASWW), later amalgamated with the British Red Cross, and luckily for posterity's sake much of his work on behalf of the Society is documented in the Wantage papers, namely the archive donated to British Red Cross archives by Lord Wantage, the Society's first Chairman; so, too, in Beryl Oliver's excellent history, The British Red Cross in Action (Faber & Faber, London, 1966). Franco-Prussian War 1870-71 Thus details of his services as Assistant Commissary and Joint Commissioner for the NSASWW in the “Woolwich Ambulance” in the Franco-Prussian War 1870-71, work that took him to German Army Headquarters and to Paris on the conclusion of the armistice - the Ambulance comprised 12 Medical Officers and 27 Medical Orderlies, and was capable of caring for up to 200 patients. Not without interest is the fact the Ambulance was latterly commanded by Maori War VC winner, Surgeon W G N Manley, who added the Iron Cross and Bavarian Order of Merit to his accolades for his courage during the actions at Chateauneuf, Bretoncelles, Orleans and Cracaut. Hart's Army List confirms Young's awards of the ‘German War Medal' and ‘French Bronze Cross', in addition to the ‘Silver Medal of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in Anglia for Saving Life'. And official records held by the Order of St. John do indeed verify the latter distinction, ‘for saving the life of a wounded German soldier at the Bridge of Bezons on 10 December 1870'. He was invested with the award by Major-General H.S.H. Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar, commanding the Home District, at a parade of the Guards and Army Service Corps held in March 1876. Russo-Turkish War 1877-78 Young next lent valuable service as the Society's Chief Commissioner in the Russo-Turkish War 1877-78, when he oversaw the landing of three Field Ambulances and medical supplies from the Society's chartered steamer, the Belle of Dunkerque. Oliver's British Red Cross in Action takes up the story: ‘At Batoum, Mr. Young found 1,000 sick and wounded men. The army was encamped at Kousonban 15 miles away over the mountains and to reach it involved a further hour's journey by sea along the coast, followed by a trek of 6 or 7 miles. Young visited the camp and was warmly received at the headquarters by Dervish Pasha. The 3rd Field Ambulance under Drs. Hope and Rolph Lesslie was posted here ... On 1 August the Belle of Dunkerque reached Suchum Kaleh. Wounded had been waiting to embark for some time and Mr. Young agreed to take 60 or 70 patients provided doctors and attendants were sent with them ... When the ship put to sea the moans and groans and stench were overpowering. By degrees the wounds were dressed, the patients fed and the voyage completed on 8 September, only one patient having died. Not inappropriately they were transferred to what had been the barrack hospital at Scutari.' In fact, the Belle of Dunkerque continued her good work until well into 1878, constantly distributing medicines, comforts, bedding and clothing, and conveying the sick and wounded to Constantinople. On one occasion, according to Oliver's history, Young decided to return to the city by land, setting out on a pack-mule ‘amidst fugitives trudging wearily along in snow, slush and mud. Some had been two months on the road and dead horses, oxen and donkeys were strewn in all directions telling a grievous tragic tale of a long flight in the rigours of winter.' He was awarded the 4th Class Osmania and Turkish War Medal, and was mentioned by our Ambassador in Constantinople in a despatch to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Who was Who confirms). But with the advent of hostilities in South Africa, he was recalled to regular military duties as Deputy Commissary-General to the Army. South Africa 1878-81 One of the first to arrive at Durban, ‘he took charge of the landing of every man and every ounce of Supplies and stores.' In fact, ‘With control of the short line of railway and with a disciplined body of over a thousand native labourers under his immediate orders, he did the entire work of disembarkation single-handed.' His achievements were warmly praised by the likes of Lord Chelmsford, Sir Garnet Wolseley and the Governor of Natal, and he was mentioned in despatches in addition to receiving the Medal without clasp. Young's activities on behalf of the NSASWW next extended to the Transvaal and Basuto Wars, one letter in the Wantage papers being from Florence Nightingale, requesting that Young be appointed to take charge of stores aboard the Balmoral Castle on arrival at Durban, together with the care of four nurses from Netley - the stores apparently including ‘artificial limbs for the amputees in Fort Amiel Hospital.' Egypt 1884-85 Actively engaged in the Nile Expedition 1884-85, as Assistant Commissary-General and Hon. Major, and as Commissioner for the National Aid Society, Young organised the transportation of the sick and wounded, and medical supplies, in the Queen Victoria, which launch he purchased with the Society's funds due to the difficulties of transport on the Nile. According to Oliver's history: ‘The launch was fully equipped and Dr. White was sent from London to be in medical charge. On upward journeys stores and comforts were carried for the use of hospitals on the lines of communication. On downward journeys invalids were conveyed, and others accommodated in dahabeahs which were towed. The distance between Cairo and Halfa was 800 miles, and Major Young went there in the launch on her first trip, reaching Wady Halfa on 3 February. They visited the station hospital under Surgeon Major Churchill where were six nursing sisters, one of them Sister Yardley belonging to the Society.' Young was thanked by the General Officer Commanding, and by the Sirdar of the Egyptian Army, and was awarded the Medal & clasp and the Khedive's Star. His final military appointment was at Netley and he retired as a Colonel and Deputy Commissary-General in February 1887. The Sudan 1898 Young next served in the Sudan campaign of 1898, onetime as a Commissioner of Stores but also aboard the steamer Mayflower, the latter hired by the Society for the conveyance of sick and wounded from Assouan to Cairo, work that resulted in him being mentioned in Earl Cromer's despatch to the Marquess of Salisbury, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. But a subsequent application to the Under Secretary of State for War for him and three nurses to be awarded the relevant Medal was refused (the Wantage papers refer); nonetheless, he did also receive the thanks of the Khedive's Government and was awarded the Order of Osmania, 3rd class (Hart's refers). This was the first occasion on which the Society and the Army had worked together as a unit, Mayflower having also embarked two medical officers of the Army Medical Department. The Bo
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