Focus On... Women in Uniform
 
* Nurses in the British Army - Introduction  
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Introduction
Nurses in the Crimea
Nurses in the British Army

1. Introduction

2. Profile

3. Sources

4. Further Reading

Almeric Paget Military Massage Corps
Scottish Women's Hospitals
Women's Royal Naval Service
Women in WWII
Links
Credits
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Women Commissioners gen. correspondence; reports. May - July 1917. Departure of women volunteers for war Women Commissioners gen. correspondence; reports. May - July 1917. Departure of women volunteers for war.
View full image of Women Commissioners gen. correspondence; reports. May - July 1917. Departure of women volunteers for war.. National Archives' Catalogue ref: NATS 1/1307. Opens in a new window - 30kSee more
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Catalogue reference: NATS1/1307National Archives Catalogue

The Crimean War (1854-1856) changed the face of military nursing for men and especially women forever. When Florence Nightingale was appointed as “Superintendent of the Female Nurses in the Hospitals in the East” nursing was not thought of as a suitable profession for women.

Despite the success of Florence Nightingale's nursing staff in the Crimea, there were mixed reactions to the continuing employment of women as military nurses. However, the draft Regulations for Inspector General of Hospitals, 1857, contained a section for women nurses to be employed in General Hospitals.

It took six years for the first woman to appear in the British Army list, when Jane Shaw Stewart was appointed Superintendent General of Female Nurses at the General Hospital at the Army Training School for military nurses at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley in 1863.

Stewart resigned in 1868 and was replaced by Mrs Deeble, who along with six nurses from Netley was sent to South Africa during the Zulu War (1879-80). Female military nurses again saw action in Egypt and Sudan between 1882 and 1885 when 35 women were sent to the region.

Women Commissioners gen. correspondence; reports. May - July 1917. Departure of women volunteers for war. Link opens in a new window - 46k Women Commissioners gen. correspondence; reports. May - July 1917. Departure of women volunteers for war
View full image of Women Commissioners gen. correspondence; reports. May - July 1917. Departure of women volunteers for war Opens in a new window - 46kSee more

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Catalogue reference: NATS1/1307catalogue reference

In 1883 the Army Services Committee recommended that every military hospital with over 100 beds have a staff of female nurses. Several proposals to form nursing corps were tabled (National Archives' Catalogue reference: WO 33/53National Archives' Catalogue - opens in a new window), from both military and civilian organisations, but each with a different set of criteria for qualifications and in 1896 the War Office decided that an army nursing reserve could not be the responsibility of a civilian organisation. In March 1897 the Army Nursing Reserve was formed.

In the same year the War Office met for discussion with voluntary medical organisations and agreed to establish a Central British Red Cross Committee as the sole channel for offers of medical help in wartime.

The experiences of high death rates due to poor standards of care in the South African War (1899-1902), similar to those in the Crimean and Boer Wars, led to more reorganisation of the Army Nursing Service. In March 1902 the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) was formed, replacing the Army Nursing Service. The 1907 Territorial and Reserve Forces Act led to the formation of the Territorial Force Nursing Service in the following year.

Detail from Regulations for Admission To The Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. Imperial War Museum, Department of Printed Books: Women's Work Collection - Ref: BRCS 25.1/3 . Link opens in a new window
Detail from Regulations for Admission To The Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. Imperial War Museum, Department of Printed Books: Women's Work Collection - Ref: BRCS 25.1/3

View full image of Regulations for Admission To The Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. Imperial War Museum, Department of Printed Books: Women's Work Collection - Ref: BRCS 25.1/3. Opens in a new window - 30kSee more

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Following a report on the Japanese voluntary aid system the British Red Cross was reorganised in 1905. The links formed in that reorganisation led to the War Office developing a scheme of voluntary aid organisation based on mixed Voluntary Aid detachments (VADs) organised for their local Territorial Forces Associations by the Red Cross in 1909.

In 1907 the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) was formed and throughout the First World War ran field hospitals, drove ambulances and set up soup kitchens and canteens for troops. The organisation, based in Westminster, is still in existence today.

After World War I there were further changes and valuable additions were made to QAIMNS by adding the Military Families Nursing Service and the Queen Alexandra’s Military Nursing Service India.

Throughout World War II the Army Nurses served in every campaign and in 1949 QAIMNS became Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC) and was integrated into the British Army. QARANC still forms part of the Army Medical Services to this day.

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