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Agatha Christie's war record gives clue to her plots with drugs and poison

Agatha Christie's wartime service as a volunteer nurse gave her an insight into drugs and poisons that was later to prove invaluable in her literary career.

Now her records are among those of 244,000 people to be put online as part of a project to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

The Heritage Lottery Fund today announced an £80,000 grant to the British Red Cross to conserve and digitise the treasure trove of fragile papers stored at its Moorfields headquarters in the City.

The documents detail the tasks performed by the volunteers — two-thirds of them women and girls — on the Home Front. Duties included work as nurses, ambulance drivers, and seamstresses mending military uniforms.

Dame Agatha, the soon-to-be wife of Royal Flying Corps officer Archibald Christie, volunteered in October 1914 to become a nurse and prescriber in a Voluntary Aid Detachment at a Red Cross hospital in her native Torquay. She worked throughout the Great War, at first unpaid and then, from 1917, on £16 a year, as a „VAD“.

Other notable VADs were the pacifist Vera Brittain and the novelist and poet Naomi Mitchison. The indexes are currently stored in boxes and are only available to the public at limited times. It can take weeks for staff to sift through them to answer an enquiry. The British Red Cross will recruit 100 volunteers to work on the digitisation project, which will feature in a new history curriculum at Kingston University.

Sue Bowers, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: „The VAD indexes are a largely untapped source of information about the significant contribution made by women in particular to the Home Front. It is quite incredible that these records have survived in their original form for a century but now the information they contain can be saved to the benefit of historians, academics and people tracing family histories.“

Phil Talbot, director of communications for the British Red Cross, said: „Whether they worked in auxiliary hospitals, convalescent homes or drove ambulances, all of our VADs played a vital humanitarian role during the war and their index cards provide a unique source of historical information.

„The database and website created by this project will be the first freely available resource for research into the civilian contribution to the Great War. We believe this is a fitting way to commemorate and pay tribute to those who gave their time in non-military service.“

Источник: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/agatha-christies-war-record-gives-clue-to--her-plots-with-drugs-and-poison-9034235.html

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