Home for
Disabled Belgian Soldiers
 45 Courtfield Gardens, Kensington, SW3 0LZ
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1915 - 1916

In April 1915, during WW1, the Wounded Allies Relief Committee established a home for Belgian soldiers, most of whom had lost at least one limb.  The property in Courtfield Gardens, which had been given specifically for this purpose, could accommodate 40 patients.

The Home for Disabled Belgian Soldiers was officially opened on 10th May 1915 by Princess Napoleon.  On her arrival, accompanied by Prince Napoleon,  the 40 inmates formed a guard of honour and sang the Belgian national anthem.  After asking them to be seated, the Princess shook hands with them all and addressed a few words to each.  After tea, the royal party left to the strains of 'God save the King' sung lustily by the patients in broken English.

The ground floor rooms were used as recreation, dining and reception rooms, while the bedrooms were located on the upper floors.  Each bed was covered with a quilt in the Belgian national colours.

Since the Home had not been established by the Kensington Division of the British Red Cross Society, it bore no share in the expenses, although it was staffed by members of the London/100 Voluntary Aid Detachment (who were unpaid - only the Matron and the charwoman received a wage).

The purpose of the Home was to provide a temporary shelter for those amputees who had settled in the country but who needed to come to London to be fitted for artificial limbs (at the Committee's expense).  Belgians who had been discharged from convalescent homes at short notice without allocation of other quarters were also accommodated at the Home.

 Because of wartime conditions, the supply of prosthetic limbs and surgical appliances was extremely slow.  However, by April 1915, some 60 artificial limbs and 30 other appliances had been provided, while another 100 or so were on order.  By August 1915 some 113 crippled soldiers had stayed at the Home while attending fittings.

The Home closed in August 1916, when the amputees had received their artificial limbs and had been trained in various industries, thus becoming self-supporting.

The furniture and bedding was presented to the Italian Red Cross for the benefit of a new Home of Rest for Sick and Wounded Italian Soldiers.

Present status (November 2010)

The house has been converted into apartments.

  45 Courtfield Gardens  45 Courtfield Gardens
No. 45 Courtfield Gardens.

References (Accessed 27th October 2013)

(Author unstated) 1915 A Home for Disabled Belgians.  British Journal of Nursing, 15th May, 416.

(Author unstated) 1915 Care of the wounded.  British Journal of Nursing, 14th August, 134.

(Author unstated) 1916  Care of the wounded.  British Journal of Nursing, 19th August, 153.

(Author unstated) 1925 The British Red Cross Society.  County of London Branch Annual Reports 1914-1924.  London, Harrison & Sons.

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