Guide to WW1 Military Nurses

Many of us have stories handed down that Great Grandma was a military nurse in the Great War but there were a variety of nurses in World War One both professional and voluntary.

VAD nurse Violet Jessup

Civilian Nurses and Midwives

Midwife services and civilian hospitals in Essex continued to operate throughout the war even though the number of nurses volunteering to serve as military nurses put a strain on the resources.

Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service - QAIMNS

QUAIMNS was the regular army nursing service whose members staffed military hospitals, ran casualty clearing stations, clinics and even operated field ambulances.

They served throughout the world and staffed military army hospitals such as Colchester in Essex.

Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve - QUAIMNS (R)

The QUAIMNS Reserve was formed in 1908 as a permanent reserve on territorial lines.

Once The Great War started most of the trained nurses who volunteered joined this Reserve. QUAIMNS members worked in the same way as full time QUAIMNS staff.

Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service - QARNNS

Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service Reserve - QARNNS (R)

QARNNS and its reserve performed for the Navy a similar role to that performed from the Army By QAIMNS.

Even more than QARNNS they served throughout the world as well as in Essex Naval Hospitals such as Purfleet.

Territorial Force Nursing Service - TFNS

The TFNS was formed in 1908 to provide nursing cover for Territorial Hospitals that were planned in the UK in the event of an outbreak of war.

The TFNS operated with trained nurses rather than volunteers.

In practice once the demands of the First World War were felt many TFNS members served overseas in Military Hospitals although some remained in the UK for their original purpose.

First Aid Yeomanry (FANY)

FANY was formed in 1907 as a uniformed body of ladies who were able to administer first aid to soldiers on or near the battlefield. The Yeomanry title came as all members were required to ride horses that would allow them swift access to the wounded.

Although FANY were uniformed and had army style ranks they were not officially affiliated so at the start of World War One they were not allowed an official role.

The strong willed leaders made their way to France with ambulances and quickly were used by the French and Belgians to convey wounded men. They then set up a Hospital at Calais and first aid posts nearer the front line until in 1916 the war office recognised FANY officially and they became part of the war effort.

Virtually all of their work was in France and Belgian although some members were recruited from Essex

Voluntary Aid Detachment - VAD

The VAD were jointly controlled by the Red Cross and St John Ambulance to provide convalescent homes and hospitals in the UK to cater for wounded servicemen and to provide ambulance transport for these servicemen.

These were mainly staffed by volunteers who had completed a very basic training.

A few VAD members served abroad but the vast majority served in VAD hospitals near to their homes.

Click here for a large section on this website about the VAD movement in Essex.