How to look for records of... British Army nurses

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

Order copies

We can either copy our records onto paper or deliver them to you digitally

Pay for research

Use our paid search service or find an independent researcher

Visit us

Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free



This is a brief guide to researching records of nurses who served with the British army. These records are varied and can be complicated. They are also incomplete. While most of the relevant records can be found at The National Archives, some material is also held by the Ministry of Defence and the Red Cross.

What do I need to know before I start?

Try to find out:

  • the name of the person
  • the name of the nursing service
  • a geographical location and date range to help focus your search

What records can I see online?

Nursing service records (1902-1922)

Search and download service records (WO 399) for nurses who served in the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAINMS), the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (Reserve) QAIMNS(R) and the Territorial Force Nursing Service (TFNS) on our website (£).

Campaign medals (1793-1949)

Search by name online in Campaign medal and award rolls (WO 100) using Ancestry.co.uk (£). You will need to know the campaign and the relevant nursing service to use these records. These do not usually contain biographical information.

Campaign medal records (1914-1920)

Search and download (£) the index cards to First World War campaign medals awarded to nurses (WO 372) on our website. Use the keywords ‘Nurse’, ‘Voluntary Aid Detachment’ or ‘Queen Alexandra’s’, as well as providing a surname to help your search.

What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?

Army casualty lists (1939-1945)

Browse by date the daily army casualty lists in WO 417 – these cover British Army officers, other ranks and nurses. They state the individuals’ rank, service number, date of becoming a casualty and type of casualty.

The term ‘casualty’ covers anyone in the British Army who was killed, wounded, missing, or was a prisoner of war.

Recipients of the Royal Red Cross (1883-1994)

Consult the registers of the recipients of the Royal Red Cross in record series WO 145 to find a person who received this award.

To access these records you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£).

What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps service records (1939-1945)

Visit the GOV.UK website for information about how to request a summary of a service record from the Ministry of Defence. These are not available to members of the general public, though next of kin may request access to them.

Voluntary Aid Detachment records (1914-1920, 1939-1945)

Contact the British Red Cross museum and archives for the service record of a person who served in a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) during the First World War or Second World War.

What other resources will help me find information?

Websites

Browse the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service website for information on British Army nurses before the First World War.

View a selection of  transcriptions of British military nurses records on Scarlet finders website.

Did you know?

Before the 1850s, British army medical services were organised by regiment and consisted of male nurses only.

The majority of military nurses in the First and Second World Wars served in the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS); renamed the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC) in 1949.

The Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service was originally called the Army Nursing Service (1884-1902). No significant records of the Army Nursing Service have survived.

Many original army service records do not exist as they were destroyed by German bombing in 1940.

Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) were non-military organisations created in 1909 and based on the Japanese voluntary aid system. Members were trained by the St John Ambulance Brigade and served alongside all branches of the armed forces.