Woodside Station During the War

Information from Birkenhead and Cheshire Advertiser

From 1st August 1914 Reservist troops departed from Woodside Station for various depots throughout England incase Britain became involved in the war.

On 16th September 1914 ten German Army Reservists landed at Woodside Station on their way to being taken to the internment camp at Lancaster.

In October 1914 52 Belgian refugees arrive at Woodside Railway Station, Birkenhead to a welcoming crowd followed by a reception. They will be staying at the Tower, Victoria Park.

Wounded soldiers started to arrive in the area from October 1914 with a small number arriving in Birkenhead to be treated at the Borough Hospital. It was not until 1915 that larger numbers of wounded soldiers began to arrive. According to newspaper reports at the beginning of February 1915 200 wounded soldiers arrive at Woodside station from Southampton. The men were received by the Men’s Voluntary Aid detachment of the British Red Cross and transferred to various hospitals, the majority going to the Tranmere Infirmary. In April 117 wounded soldiers arrived at Woodside fresh from Ypres and Hill 60. Arrowe Hall has been reopened to treat the wounded soldiers and some have gone to the Borough Hospital, Heswall and Parkgate. Before the year is out a further 200 soldiers arrive at Woodside.

On the 12th May 1915 survivors of the Lusitania liner torpedoed by a German U-boat off the coast of Kinsale arrive at Woodside station; there are 62 adults, 11 children and 1 infant. The Lord Mayor of Liverpool opened a disaster relief fund predominately for the dependants of the second and third class passengers.

In April 1916 the Mayor of Birkenhead formally hands over two ambulances to the Red Cross for use in Birkenhead in transporting wounded soldiers from Woodside to hospitals in the borough. From April until June is was estimated that around 350 wounded soldiers had arrived at Woodside, however at the start of July it was reported that Birkenhead’s biggest batch of wounded soldiers (350) arrive at Woodside station. Roland Jackson, Head of the Voluntary Aid Detachment organised the transportation of the soldiers to Bromborough, Parkgate and Arrowe Hall as well as local hospitals in Birkenhead including a Council school at Rock Ferry which has been converted into a hospital. The wounded soldiers were greeted by a cheering crowd at the station.

Roland Jackson began a fund in his name to raise money for ambulances to transport wounded soldiers from the station. A Flag Day was held in August 1916 to contribute to the fund and Jackson was praised for his work which also included arranging entertainment and suppliying comforts to the wounded soldiers.

On 23rd September 1916 a hospital train carrying 180 wounded soldiers to Woodside arrived and a number of the men who were injured the previous weekend reported seeing the new motor tanks in action which frightened the Hun out of their wits!

In October 1917 over 300 wounded soldiers arrive at Woodside from Ypres. Parkgate and Neston hospitals are now full to capacity and local schools such as Temple Road, Hemmingford Street, Ionic Street and Mersey Park are being used to house wounded soldiers.

In 1918 Woodside Station is just as busy with transporting wounded soldiers, in February  it was reported that the VAD were able to dispatch the men in record time of 36 minutes. By the end of the summer almost 1200 men had been transported to Woodside, a high proportion of these men went to Wallasey Town Hall which became a military hospital in late 1916. On 7th September it was reported that during three days in the previous week nearly 600 wounded soldiers arrive at Woodside and are conveyed to different hospitals around the borough.

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