The Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service is the nursing branch of the British Army and part of the Army Medical Services. Although an “official” nursing service was not established until 1881, the corps traces its heritage to Florence Nightingale, who was instrumental in lobbying for the support of female military nurses.
At the outbreak of war in 1914 there were just under 300 nurses in the QAIMNS, by the end of the war this had risen to 10,404 (including reservists). The nurses were well trained but the increasing mechanisation of war brought some horrific new injuries, including wounds caused by shrapnel, land mines, mortars, grenades, tanks, flame throwers and gas attacks.
Army nurses served in Flanders, the Mediterranean, the Balkans, the Middle East and aboard hospital ships. Almost 200 army nurses died on active service and in 1916, when the Military Medal was instituted as an award for bravery, some of the first awards went to military nurses.
Commonwealth War Graves