This brief clip shows soldiers feeding hens and gathering eggs in an unidentified New Zealand hospital in 1918 in the United Kingdom. Their lemon squeezer hats identify them as New Zealanders and their uniforms further identify them as hospital patients. Known as the “hospital blues” (also as convalescent blues, or hospital undress) the single-breasted suit and trousers uniform was made out of flannel material of an Oxford-Blue colour, with a white shirt and red tie.
The hospital blues served a number of functions and were important within the hospital environment. In the first instance, they were a replacement for dirty and often infested uniforms and therefore helped to improve hygiene and cleanliness. They were also a way to distinguish the patients from doctors, nurses and visitors and enabled the administration to maintain discipline and rank. The hospital blues also worked as a form of social control, as publicans were not allowed to sell liquor to men in the blues.