Making sphagnum moss dressings, Glasgow, Scotland
A woman packing sphagnum moss into bags at a Red Cross Supplies Depot to make dressings for the wounded. Sphagnum moss can absorb up to twenty times its volume in liquid, restricts bacterial growth due to its acidity, and has antiseptic properties. Additionally, being commonly found throughout the UK, sphagnum moss was cheaper than the alternative of cotton wool dressings – which in World War One had been commandeered for the manufacture of munitions. The moss was often collected by women and children, and was sorted, dried, and packed into muslin bags. These wound dressings were used extensively in World War One, and on a smaller scale in World War Two, but had been used to treat wounds during battles for centuries. In 1940, requests for sphagnum moss were advertised in the press, with 250 Red Cross workers in Glasgow working to process the moss that volunteers collected.