First World War Register - Royal Victoria Hospital
The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) holds a register of war casualties who were treated in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast (RVH) between September 1914 and November 1916 (PRONI Reference: HOS/2/1/4/1).
This register contains the names of more than 700 soldiers from various regiments. It also details, where available, each soldier’s rank, service number, regiment, battalion number, date of admission and date of discharge (date when they officially left the hospital).
Upon the outbreak of hostilities in 1914, the existing facilities for the reception of wounded soldiers from the front were soon overwhelmed. In response, various types of hospitals were thrust into action. As Belfast’s main civil hospital, the RVH played a key part in this effort. It received its first few casualties in September and October 1914, but it was in November 1914 when the numbers increased dramatically.
The hospital was paid directly for this service by the military authorities, assessed at a flat daily rate per individual (3 shillings 7 pence, later rising to 4 shillings). Being a voluntary hospital relying on subscription and charitable donation, it was imperative for the RVH to keep a clear record of who was coming into its care, how long they were treated and how much this equated to in covering cost. PRONI holds the applicable admission register for army soldiers and officers chargeable to the War Office, for the years 1914 to 1916.
Soldiers from various regiments were treated during this time. Local regiments included the Irish Guards and the Royal Irish Rifles; those from Britain included the Royal Berkshire Regiment, the Royal Scots Fusiliers and the Welsh Guards; while soldiers from New Zealand, Canada and Australia were also treated.
As well as the personal and regimental details, there are also occasional annotations, for example, in the register there are details of a recipient of the Victoria Cross. Corporal James Pollock VC, of the Cameron Highlanders who was admitted on 4 October 1915 (see page 9) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at the Battle of Loos in September 1915.
This record is exceedingly rare, as similar examples were destroyed en masse by UK military authorities after the war.
First World War Register Database
PRONI has developed a database (Excel spreadsheet) containing all of the details recorded in the RVH First World War Register, which can be accessed at the link below. The spreadsheet is sorted by alphabetically by surname, but data can be sorted by soldier’s name, rank, service number, regiment, battalion number, date of admission or date of discharge. Alternatively, you can browse the database for the information you need. The page number for each entry in the Register is recorded in the spreadsheet.
A digitised version of the First World War Register of the Royal Victoria Hospital is now available to view at the link below. You can use the information in the database to identify an individual, and the page number on which the entry appears. You can then view the original entry on the digitised version of the register. Note, the same individual can appear several times, generally concurrently, which may reflect the administrative process at the hospital.
Alternatively, you can browse through the pages of the digitised register.