A real treasure trove of information regarding some of the women of Sevenoaks who worked as nurses during the war is the archive of material left by Kathleen Mansfield, Commandant of the Cornwall Hall VAD 76 Hospital. The archive also includes card, letters, drawings and photos of many of those cared for at the hospital, some of whom are named while others are labelled as ‘patients’ or ‘Belgians’.
Kathleen Mansfield and her husband served throughout the war, tireless in their work to care for those that arrived at Cornwall Hall, from the Belgian refugees who began to arrive in Sevenoaks in late 1914, to the wounded servicemen who were sent to convalesce. Fortunately, Kathleen kept meticulous records, including photographs and letters from the servicemen, with some names and service numbers carefully inscribed. The archive also includes some wonderful photos of the nursing staff, who were mainly drawn from the local upper and middle class families of the town, as well as photos of sports days, fancy dress parades, Easter and Christmas celebrations. All of this material, including the glowing testimony of many of their former charges now returned to the Front and recalling the care and comfort that they had received, speaks of the dedication and compassion of the Commandant and her nursing team. Kathleen was awarded the Royal Red Cross in 1917 in recognition of her service. This archive is shared by generous permission of the estate of the Mansfield family.