Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service
Although a formal military nursing service did not exist in the army prior to the latter half of the 19th century, recent extensive research suggests that nursing care was provided to the army during the reign of Elizabeth 1st and the English Civil War.
During the 18th century military hospitals had Matrons and nurses working in them but the training and standard of care was not of a high standard. With the Crimean war and the widespread reportage of the war in the national press the plight of the sick and injured soldiers in the deplorable hospitals in the East caused public alarm.
After the Crimean War there were great reforms within the Army Medical Services but it was not until 1881 that an advertisement appeared in the Times and Daily Telegraph appealing for ‘Nursing Sisters to be trained in military hospitals....’.
Not long after that nurses accompanied the army on campaign, in Egypt and the Sudan. In 1887 Princess Christian, Queen Victoria’s daughter, gave her name to the Army Nursing Service Reserve and these ladies served during the Anglo-Boer War.
In 1902 the Indian Nursing Service and the Army Nursing Service were combined and following the death of Queen Victoria, Queen Alexandra became the President of the newly formed Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service. This Corps was formed on 27th March 1902. The Queen chose the cross of the Order of Dannebrog as the basis of the badge of QAIMNS and the motto Sub Cruce Candida, Under the White Cross, was adopted by the Corps.
Military nurses served in nearly all theatres during World War 1 and many lost their lives. In 1916, when the Military Medal was instituted as an award for bravery, some of the first awards went to military nurses. With the war’s end military nurses took on a new responsibility, that of the care of soldiers families and Queen Alexandra’s Military Families Nursing Service was formed.
During World War 2 nurses once again found themselves serving all over the world and many suffered the hardships and deprivations of the Far East prison camps.
After World War 2 there was much reorganisation within the army medical services and on 1 February 1949 the name was changed to Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps. In July 1950 a further change took place when non-commissioned ranks were admitted to the Corps and nurse training within the Corps commenced. At this time the Corps was an all-female organisation, male nurses being members of the RAMC.