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

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

How many are online?

  • Some

This is a brief guide to finding records of nurses who served with the British Army. Most of these records are at The National Archives but 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.

Online records

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) from 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.

Records available only at The National Archives in Kew

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 (£), transcripts are available on (£).

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.

Records 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. An administrative fee applies.

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

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.

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.

Other resources


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.


Visit the National Archives’ bookshop for a range of publications on British nurses in the First World War.