In response to huge casualty numbers on the front line, Lady Smith-Dorrien and volunteers across the country stepped in to creat simple, labelled drawstring bags to store the personal possessions of the sick and wounded soldiers when they were admitted to hospitals and casualty clearing stations. It was estimated that 60,000 bags a month were needed.
By the end of the War more than five million bags had been sewn and distributed to hospital ships, medical units and field hospitals both in Europe and further afield. Bags were to be made of unbleached calico, although flowered cretonne (chintz) was preferred by the soldiers because they reminded them of cushions and covers at home. They were all made 12 inches by 14 inches and featured a plain label with a red cross symbol where the name and home address of the wounded could be written.
For those men who did not come home, the bags with their treasured possessions were returned to their family. The bags went by a variety of names including Comfort Bags, Treasure Bags, Blighty Bags, Sister Susie Bags or Dorothy Bags.