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Smith+Nephew during World War 1

A few days after the declaration of World War 1 in 1914, Horatio Nelson Smith (the nephew of the company founder T. J Smith) met with an envoy of the French President in London. The company was awarded a contract to supply £350,000 of surgical and field dressings, to be delivered in five months. This was by far the largest order the firm had handled. It was delivered on time, but the disastrous course of the war made further demands on the resources of Neptune Street while it was still working on this order.

First Field Dressing

On the Saturday after the fall of Antwerp in October 1914 (where the Belgian army lost the whole of its medical supplies) H. N Smith was asked to meet Cmdr. Vigneron of the Belgian Army Medical Service. Supplies were needed for the following Monday, and the entire team in Hull worked without a break throughout the weekend. Ten tonnes of dressings were loaded onto special trucks at 9.30am and were in the hands of the Belgian authorities by 8.00pm that night.

Duchess of Sunderland Hospital, Calais, 1917

Hospital ward, Duchess of Sunderland Hospital, Calais, 1917

Through the war, the company supplied dressings not only to the armies of Britain, France, Belgium and Serbia, but, on their entry, also to the American Army and the American Red Cross


Mobile operating theatre

The demands of war forced rapid expansion. By the end of the war in 1918 T. J. Smith Limited had grown to accommodate most of Neptune St in Hull, the site of our current facility

BBC "World War 1 At Home"

BBC World War 1 at Home website

Visit the BBC World War 1 At Home website to find out more about how we have our roots firmly tied to the events of WW1, and how we supplied field dressing supplies to troops.

Visitors from inside the UK can also listen to the accompanying radio piece broadcast on BBC radio.

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