The National Archives has produced a general research guide on the subject of Army Nurses, which gives an overview of the subject of military nursing, along with a list of records held both at The National Archives and elsewhere. You may also find our in depth guide to British Army nurses' service records 1914-1918 useful.
The National Archives holds various sets of records for nurses who served in the British Army.
- QAIMNS: First World War Service. May contain details of service, enrolment and discharge papers, and correspondence relating to the period of service. List gives forename and surname. (1902-1922) WO 399
- QAIMNS: Professional qualifications and recommendations for appointment of staff nurses (1903 - 1926) WO 25/3956
- Territorial Force Nursing Service (some only): may contain details of service, enrolement and discharge papers, and correspondence relating to the period of service (1914-18) WO 399
- National Aid Society. Name and seniority rolls; service records (1869 - 1901) WO 25/3462
The catalogue reference for the service record of Mary Ann Brown is WO 399/1023. A search on Discovery, our catalogue using just her name did not produce any results. The series that lists the service records for QAIMNS nurses is WO 399 and it contains 15792 individual files. Even if you are able to visit Kew is too many files to order and search by hand.
The records are in alphabetical order so it is possible to make repeat searches and narrow the number range to work out where the B, then the Br, records will be.
For example: WO 399/1 is the service history of ABBOTT Ada, WO 399/2 ABBOT, Alice, 399/3 ABBOTT, Caroline etc.
If you are able to visit the National Archives you can order and view the original records.
To obtain copies of documents held at the National Archives if you are not able to visit in person you can search Discovery and then order copies of documents.
Mary Ann Brown was awarded the Associate Royal Red Cross medal. The National Archives houses medal rolls that give information about awards. Army nurses were eligible for the Royal Red Cross Medal, from 1883, and bars, from 1917.
1869-1891 Royal Red Cross: award to nursing sisters of the NAS WO 25/3955
1883-1994 Royal Red Cross Medal roll WO 145/1, WO 145/2 and WO 145/3
1899-1902 Queen’s South Africa Medal roll for nurses WO 100/229
1899-1902 King’s South Africa Medal roll for nurses WO 100/353
1914-1918 Campaign medals for First World War. There is a microfiche index for nurses. WO 329
The document WO145/1 which covers the period Brown served is very difficult to obtain as it is in high demand.
Mary Brown's Diaries. Imperial War Museum, Department of Documents. Ref: 88/7/1
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Formed in 1907 the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) are the oldest uniformed women's organisation in the world. We are also the most decorated and the only women only uniformed group in the UK.
The A2A database contains catalogues describing archives held throughout England and dating from the 900s to the present day.