How to look for records of... British Army nurses

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

Order copies

We can either copy our records onto paper or deliver them to you digitally

Visit us in Kew

Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free

Pay for research

This is a brief guide to researching records of nurses who served with the British army. These records are varied, incomplete and can be complicated. While most of the relevant records can be found at The National Archives, some material is also held by the Ministry of Defence and the Red Cross.

What do I need to know before I start?

Before the 1850s, British army medical services were organised by regiment and consisted of male nurses only.

It was not until 1881 that the Army Nursing Service was established (no significant records of the Army Nursing Service have survived). In 1902 it was reorganised and became Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS); renamed the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC) in 1949. The majority of military nurses in the First and Second World Wars worked in these services.

Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) were non-military organisations created in 1909 and based on the Japanese voluntary aid system. Members were trained by the St John Ambulance Brigade and served alongside all branches of the armed forces.

What records can I see online?

Nursing service records (1902-1922)

Search and download service records (WO 399) for nurses who served in the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAINMS), the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (Reserve) QAIMNS(R) and the Territorial Force Nursing Service (TFNS) on our website (£).

Campaign medals (1793-1949)

Search by name online in Campaign medal and award rolls (WO 100) using (£). You will need to know the campaign and the relevant nursing service to use these records. These do not usually contain biographical information.

Campaign medal records (1914-1920)

Search and download (£) the index cards to First World War campaign medals awarded to nurses (WO 372) on our website. Use the keywords ‘Nurse’, ‘Voluntary Aid Detachment’ or ‘Queen Alexandra’s’, as well as providing a surname to help your search.

British Army casualty lists (1939-1945)

Search the daily British Army casualty lists (WO 417) on These cover British Army officers and other ranks as well as nurses. They state the individuals’ rank, service number, date of becoming a casualty and type of casualty.

The term ‘casualty’ covers anyone in the British Army who was killed, wounded, missing, or was a prisoner of war.

What records can I find only at The National Archives at Kew?

Recipients of the Royal Red Cross (1883-1994)

Consult the registers of the recipients of the Royal Red Cross in record series WO 145 to find a person who received this award.

To access these records you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£).

What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps service records (1939-1945)

Visit the GOV.UK website for information about how to request a summary of a service record from the Ministry of Defence. These are available to next of kin and members of the general public on request to the MOD, provided the subject is no longer living. An administrative fee applies.

Voluntary Aid Detachment records (1914-1920, 1939-1945)

Contact the British Red Cross museum and archives for the service record of a person who served in a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) during the First World War or Second World War.

What other resources will help me find information?


Browse the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service website for information on British Army nurses before the First World War.

View a selection of  transcriptions of British military nurses records on Scarlet finders website.