red cross (n.)
early 15c. as the national emblem of England (St. George's Cross), also the badge of the Order of the Temple. Hence red-cross knight, one bearing such a marking on shield or crest. In 17c., a red cross was the mark placed on the doors of London houses infected with the plague. The red cross was adopted as a symbol of ambulance service in 1864 by the Geneva Conference, and the Red Cross Society (later also, in Muslim lands, Red Crescent) philanthropic organization was founded to carry out the views of the 1864 conference as well as other works of relief.