Cape Worn by Second World War Volunteer Nurse to Sell For Charity

Cape Worn by Second World War Volunteer Nurse to Sell For Charity

A cape worn by a volunteer nurse working in Oxfordshire during the Second World War comes for sale at the end of this month.

16 August 2022

The scarlet and navy woollen cloak is sewn with the numerous cloth regimental badges that were given to Miss Esme Kathleen Robinson (1922-2017) by the soldiers she treated as a member of the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD). 

Founded in 1909 with the help of the British Red Cross and Order of St John, the VAD was a civilian unit that provided nursing care for military personnel during the First and the Second World Wars. The nurses (among them the author Agatha Christie) worked in field hospitals and in places of longer-term recuperation back in Britain.

Esme Robinson was based at Churchill Hospital, Headington, Oxford from 1942-45. Her cape, sewn with 201 cloth formation signs badges, was part of her uniform. For formal events (such as the annual VAD carol concert) she wore it navy side up as the display of so many regimental badges was frowned upon by her superiors. It was during one of the concerts in Wheatley, Oxfordshire that Esme met her future husband.


Regimental Badge Cape


Robinson passed away in 2017and the cape was then inherited by her daughter who has pondered what best to do with it and its associated memorabilia such as a Soldier's Service and Pay Book, Certificate of Enrolment and a Needlecraft for HM Forces kit. After being rebuffed by specialist museums, she has decided to sell the cape and give the proceeds to The British Legion. Sworders will also be donating all fees to the Legion when the cape is sold as part of an Antique Arms and Militaria section of the Homes & Interiors sale on August 30. It is expected to make in the region of £800-1200.




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