Buckie Auxiliary Hospital
Buckie Red Cross, or Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) Hospital was established on 27th January 1915 in the hall of Rathven Parish Church. The hall, which was heated by gas radiators, initially housed 20 beds, but this had been increased to 26 by March 1915 in response to demand. By February 1916, 238 soldiers and 4 naval personnel had been treated there and the Banffshire Advertiser stated that, as a result of the high esteem in which they were held, the authorities wished that 50 beds could be accommodated. Patients came from across the UK and those being treated there in February 1916 hailed from London, Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds, Greenock, Bedford, Birmingham, Glasgow, Devon, Clydebank, Wolverhampton, Dundee and Orkney.
The hall was quite basic but clean and comfortable and the patients also had use of a day room where they could smoke and read. The vestry doubled up as an office and a bedroom for the sister in charge. There was a piano and an organ in the hall and the patients enjoyed frequent concerts – sometimes taking part themselves. Other entertainments included carpet bowls, bagatelle and golf at the golf course nearby. Those patients who were well enough might also be taken out by local people and must have welcomed the change of scenery. There was always a Sunday service held in the hall, or patients might be transported to other churches if they wished.
The cookery room of the neighbouring Portessie School served as the dining room for the patients, and all meals were prepared here too, frequently assisted by Miss Duncan, the cookery teacher, and the children. The basic rations provided by the authorities were generously supplemented by donations from local people. The patients had the people of Buckie to thank not only for treats but also some basic foodstuffs, clothing, books, and cigarettes. Lists of donors and their gifts regularly appeared in the Banffshire Advertiser.
There were some permanent staff based at the hospital, but they were ably assisted by local Red Cross volunteers. In February 1916, those working at the hospital in Portessie were:
Dr William Robert Duguid, from Buckie – medical officer - who served throughout the war and was mentioned in despatches.
Alice Isabel Hunter, from Ellon – nursing sister-in-charge - who served throughout the war and received the Royal Red Cross (2nd class) honour from the King in May 1918
Miss Kynoch – head of the local Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD)
Mrs Symington – quartermaster, in charge of supplies. Wife of the Rathven minister
Mrs Duguid – secretary
Red Cross nurses: Nurse Chalmers, Findochty; Nurse N Bruce, Buckie; Nurse Isabel Flett, Findochty; and Nurse Anton.