Strangest never before seen objects discovered in British Red Cross archives

The British Red Cross archives collection has been made available to the public for the first time in its history.
The organisation helps millions of people in the UK and around the world get the support they need if crisis strikes and holds 56,000 items related to this work.
In the process of digitising the thousands of artefacts it holds, the British Red Cross Heritage Team unearthed several unusual items, including:
  • A nuclear attack survival kit which includes three boxes of cotton wool, bandages, dressings and six safety pins
  • A Prisoner of War ‘blower’ used to heat and cook Red Cross food parcels sent to Prisoner Of War camps in WWII
  • Agatha Christie’s volunteering record card from WWI. The author learnt how to poison people while volunteering as an apothecary.
  • Tubing used for blood transfusions
The museum and archive collection, house in Moorgate, is one of the largest collections of items of any Red Cross national society in the world.

As the British Red Cross approaches its 150th anniversary in 2020, the items have been placed online where the public can search for items by colour and create shortlists of their favourite objects.

British Red Cross Heritage Manager, Dr Alasdair Brooks, said: “This is a brilliant opportunity to share our internationally important collection, which includes a range of both wonderful and weird objects. We can see from these items alone how our First Aid advice has drastically changed over the decades, why Red Cross neutrality has been a fundamental principle of our work through the world’s major conflicts, our connection to key historical figures and our unique relationship with the Royal Family.  We hope the database will provide the public with the opportunity to learn how our work is as vital today as it has been for the past 150 years.”

The British Red Cross online collections database can be found at: