How to look for records of... Royal Navy nurses

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

How many are online?

  • None

This is a brief guide to researching records of nurses who served with the Royal Navy. While most of the relevant records can be found at The National Archives, some material is held by the Ministry of Defence and the Red Cross.

What do I need to know before I start?

Before 1884 the Royal Navy generally employed male nurses only.

The majority of naval nurses in the First and Second World Wars served in the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service.

Online records

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service records (1894-1929)

Browse registers of service in ADM 104 for a nurse in the Royal Navy.

Please be aware that these are very large files and only suitable for download on a fast and unlimited broadband connection.

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 (£).

Campaign medals (1793-1949)

Consult the campaign medal and award rolls in ADM 171. You will need to know the campaign and the relevant nursing service to use these records. These do not usually contain biographical information.

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 Naval Nursing Service (1929-present)

Visit the GOV.UK website for information about how to request a summary of a service record from the Ministry of Defence. These are not available to members of the general public, though next of kin may request access to them.

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 or Second World War.

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.

Other resources


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