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Our history

Florence Nightingale formed the first nucleus of a recognised Nursing Service for the Army in the Crimean War, 1854. Following the war she fought to institute the employment of women nurses in military hospitals and by 1860 she had succeeded in establishing an Army Training School for military nurses at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley.
QARANC historyIn 1866 provision was made for the appointment of nurses to all Military General Hospitals, but it was not until 1881 that an Army Nursing service was formed. Meanwhile, several sisters were sent to the Zulu War, 1879-80.

The Egyptian Campaign, 1882, led to a reorganisation of the Nursing Service, Sisters being sent to hospitals at Gibraltar and Malta and a staff of nurses was also appointed to the Brigade of Guards Hospital, London. Later, Sisters were posted to military hospitals at Aldershot and in Egypt.

Finally in 1883 every military hospital of 100 beds or more had a staff of Sisters. In 1897 Princess Christian's Army Nursing Service Reserve was formed. In the South African War, 1899, 80 of the 1,400 nurses sent were supplied by Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The experience of this war once more led to reorganisation of the Army Nursing Service and in 1902 Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service was established by Royal Warrant under the immediate control of Her Majesty, who had given the Service her name and was President until her death in 1925, when Queen Mary succeeded to that office.

Formation of the QAIMNS Reserve and the Territorial Force Nursing Service quickly followed and in the first week of World War I, 1914-18, these nursing services mobilised for duty with the Expeditionary Force, serving through the war years on every front, in every campaign.

Another war over, the inevitable changes of a post-war period followed, but this time bringing less spectacular transitions. Valuable additions were made to the parent QAIMNS through the Military Families Nursing Service and Queen Alexandra's Military Nursing Service India.

In World War II 1939-45, the Army Nursing Service served in every campaign from Iceland to the Pacific, nursing the sick and wounded and sharing the hazards of warfare. Testimony to their work and courage abounds. All gave of their best and many their lives. Some spent long frustrating years as prisoners of war.

This time, when hostilities ceased, as a result of the war the view was that the Army Nursing Service had to be incorporated properly into the Army. In 1949 the QAIMNS became a Corps of the Army and was renamed Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps. At that time the Corps recruited Officers only and was supplemented by members of the Territorial Army and Reserves.

In 1950, servicewomen were recruited and student nurse training began. In 1992 male nurses rebadged from the RAMC into the QARANC.

Her Majesty Queen Mary, as President of QAIMNS, became Colonel-in-Chief of QARANC, until her death in 1953, when she was succeeded by Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret. In July 2003 Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex was appointed as our third Colonel in Chief and graciously agreed to become Patron of the Association.

The Corps has kept abreast of the needs of the Army to provide nursing care of the highest standard in peace and war.


Army Medical Services Museum
Keogh Barracks
Ash Vale
GU12 5RQ

Telephone: 01252 868612

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