Nursing Services in WW1

The British Military Nursing Service was aided by Voluntary Aid Detachments and the numbers swelled by the arrival of trained military nurses from Canada, Australia, New Zealand & South Africa; nurses from the USA worked alongside QAIMNS nurses in France and Flanders.

The British Military Nursing Service consisted of:

 Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS)
In 1902 QAIMNS replaced the Army Nursing Service and expanded steadily. At the outbreak of the Great War there were 297 QAIMNS nurses serving in military hospitals throughout the world, with the enrolment during wartime of over 10,000 members of the reserve.

Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve (QAIMNSR)
From 1908 a small ‘reserve’ of women had augmented the number of regular QAIMNS and with the onset of war over 10,000 women joined the QAIMNSR between April 1914 and the Armistice. All had completed a three year training in a hospital approved by the War Office.

Territorial Force Nursing Service (TFNS)
Formed in 1908, the women enrolled in the service after 1909 were civilian nurses who continued to work in their usual capacity, but had undertaken to be mobilised at short notice in case of war. Just over 8000 women had enrolled by the Armistice of which 2,280 served overseas alongside their colleagues in QAIMNS & Reserve.

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service
In 1884 the Naval Nursing Service was established and in 1902 Queen Alexandra gave her name to the new nursing services for both Army and Navy. By 1919, 81 members of the regular service assisted by 200 reserve nurses provided care at 15 naval hospitals and 9 hospital ships.

Queen Alexandra’s Military Nursing Service (India) QAMNSI
The Indian Nursing Service was inaugurated in 1888 and in 1903 the name changed to Queen Alexandra’s Military Nursing Service India with an establishment of 91, some of whom served on the Western Front and in Mesopotamia during the Great War. This was eventually amalgamated with QAIMNS in 1926.

Voluntary Aid Detachments (VAD)
In 1909 the War Office issued its ‘Scheme for the Organisation of Voluntary Aid in England & Wales’ and later Scotland. This set up both male and female Voluntary Aid Detachments to fill gaps in the territorial medical services. During the war the VAD organisation was administered by the Joint War Committees of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John, run from Devonshire House in Piccadilly.

About 50,000 women were involved in the movement immediately before the war and it is thought that in total between 70,000 & 100,000 served as VADs at sometime during the war.

A comprehensive source of information about military nurses and hospitals before and during the Great War; including transcriptions of many original documents relating to both nursing and women’s work during the conflict.

Kate Luard served as a nurse in South Africa during the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) with the Army Nursing Service Reserve.

On 6 August, 1914, two days after the British Government declared war on Germany, she joined the Reserve of the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service and was to serve on the Western Front until December 1918.


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