More than 90 years ago, in the final year of the First World War, steam trains daily brought injured soldiers into Bradford for hospital treatment.

Among these hospitals was the 437-bed Abram Peel Hospital in Leeds Road, a military establishment for neurological disorders, staffed by the Royal Army Medical Corps, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service and volunteers.

A club was formed to help them, the Bradford Khaki Club, based in Forster Square.

“It was a huge organisation started by women – members of the Bradford Women’s Police Patrols,” says local historian Tricia Platts. She’s the secretary of the World War One Group that meets monthly at the Mechanics’ Institute Library, and co-author of the book Bradford In The Great War.

“These patrols were set up to make sure women mill workers got home safely at night. They decided to do something for the men and set up this club. More than 19,000 soldiers came to Bradford hospitals.

“Women volunteers met the hospital trains. They introduced the soldiers to the Khaki Club. The building had a restaurant, a games room, a library and held concert parties.”

Khaki Club members were also taught embroidery by Louisa Pesel, the Bradford-born daughter of a German merchant. She was in her 40s, a noted scholar and embroidery expert who had been director of the Royal Helenic School of Needlework and Laces in Athens.

She helped some of them to embroider what is known as the Khaki Cloth, a cross-stitch frontlet made at the club in the autumn of 1918 for use at services in the Abram Peel Hospital.

The cloth is one of 25 items recently on display in Bradford Cathedral as part of an exhibition of embroidered religious robes and altar cloths.

It was the first time that Tricia and Geoffrey Barker, chairman of the World War One Group, had seen the cloth.

Looking at the pattern of cog-like embroidered flowers, Geoffrey said: “This is new to us. I think it’s beautiful. It reminds me of things I saw when I was a serviceman in Cyprus – the plain background and the flowers. Louise Pesel went to the Greek islands, so she would have been influenced by that.”

What is unknown is how many, if any, of the shell-shocked soldiers belonged to the two Bradford Pals regiments formed in 1915 and 1916. Of the 2,000 volunteers, only 323 survived the carnage of the opening day of the Battle of the Somme in the summer of 1916.

Under the Military Act of that year, more than 300 British soldiers, including some from Yorkshire, were executed by the British Army because shell shock was not accepted as a legitimate medical condition for ordinary ranks until late on in the war.

Even more beautiful perhaps was the altar cloth, Jesus The Good Shepherd, designed by Ernest Sichel.

Sichel, a contemporary and near-neighbour of the young Frederick Delius, returned to Bradford after finishing his studies at the Slade School of Fine Art in London.

Unlike Delius, who left Bradford for the United States and then France, where he composed his music, Sichel remained in his family home painting, sculpting and designing silver and bronze pieces, until his death in 1941.

Cartwright Hall has two volumes of photographs of Sichel’s work compiled by a member of the Jacob Behrens family.

The Cathedral’s sacristy contains 9ft-wide drawers of altar cloths including one, about 6ft by 3ft, known as the William Morris Cloth because the pattern of fruits and vines, mostly in variegated greens, is reminiscent of the Victorian artist’s designs.

It may well be authentic. The Cathedral has a number of Morris’s stained glass windows, while the big East window behind the main altar was made by the Pre-Raphaelite group, known as The Firm, to which Morris belonged.

There is symbolic significance to the colours and designs embroidered on to religious robes and cloths.

White or gold, for example, are the colours for festive periods – Christmas, Easter, All Saints Day, baptism and marriage. Red symbolises the holy fire of Pentecost and the blood of Good Friday. Purple is the colour of penitence. Green symbolises hope, and rose pink rejoicing.

Pomegranates, a symbol taken from Jewish religious tradition, which feature on the William Morris Cloth, represent Christ’s Resurrection and the hope of eternal life.