Staff and patients at Aberlour Orphanage Auxiliary Hospital. Reproduced by kind permission of Mr William Hendry.
Casualties from the Front Line were sent to general and auxiliary hospitals throughout Moray to recuperate.

From the earliest stages of the war, the people of Moray began to mobilise to do what they could to help out, and, whilst the men joined up to fight, the women of Moray joined up in large numbers as VADs, or Voluntary Aid Detachments, at locations across the county. Many of these volunteers were to be deployed both locally and further afield in various roles, but frequently their work involved caring for the wounded, sometimes in military and general hospitals outside Moray, but more frequently in Red Cross Auxiliary Hospitals closer to home.

Front-line casualties would have passed through many hands before arriving in Moray, having been collected from the battlefields by the battalion stretcher bearers and passed down through the medical evacuation pathway to the Base Hospitals on the French coast. From there many would be sent back to Britain for further treatment followed by convalescence, the latter quite often at an auxiliary hospital. These auxiliary hospitals were the final stopping off point for many soldiers and sailors before their return to the front line and were chiefly used for convalescence.

Eight of Scotland’s 180 auxiliary hospitals were based in Moray, run by qualified medical staff, assisted by VADs. These units, based in Aberlour, Advie, Buckie, Cullen, Elgin, Fochabers, Forres and Keith, supplemented the limited provision available in the general hospitals in Aberlour, Dufftown, Elgin and Forres in which small numbers of beds were set aside to take the war wounded. At times, even this provision was inadequate and the wounded were accommodated in hotels – such as the Stotfield in Lossiemouth, and the Spey Bay Hotel - and private houses such as Oakbank in Elgin.

The Auxiliary Hospitals across Moray relied heavily on community support for their day-to-day running, including the transporting of patients to the hospitals from the nearest railway stations, providing and laundering bed linen and clothing, supplying food, tobacco and reading materials. Many of the communities rallied round to provide treats and entertainments for the patients too, and the hospitals apparently were seen very much as the responsibility of the whole community.