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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