Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps

Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC; known as the QAs) is the nursing branch of the British Army and part of the Army Medical Services.

Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps
Cap Badge of the QARANC
Active1949 – present
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
RoleMedical support
Part ofArmy Medical Services
Nickname(s)The QAs
Motto(s)Sub cruce candida
(Under the White Cross)
MarchQuick: Grey and Scarlet[1]
Colonel-in-ChiefThe Countess of Wessex GCVO
Chief Nursing Officer (Army)Colonel Alison McCourt OBE ARRC QHN L/QARANC
Tactical Recognition Flash


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.[2] The Army Nursing Service, which had been established in 1881, and which from 1889 provided Sisters for all Army hospitals with at least 100 beds,[3] had only a small number of nurses in its employ. In 1897, in an effort to have nurses available if needed for war, the service was supplemented by Princess Christian's Army Nursing Service Reserve (PCANSR). Nurses registered for the service and by the beginning of the First Boer War the reserve had around 100 members, but swelled its membership to over 1400 during the conflict. PCANSR eventually became the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service.[4] In March 1902, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) was established by Royal Warrant, and was named after Queen Alexandra, who became its president.[5] In 1949, the QAIMNS became a corps in the British Army and was renamed as the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps. Since 1950 the organisation has trained nurses, and in 1992 men were allowed to join.[3]

The associated Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps Association is a registered charity. Queen Alexandra was President from 1902 until her death in 1925. The following year she was succeeded by Queen Mary.[6]

Territorial Force Nursing Service

The Territorial Force Nursing Service (TFNS) was originally formed to staff the territorial force hospitals at home, and the majority of its members spent their wartime service in the United Kingdom, not only in the 25 territorial hospitals, but also in hundreds of auxiliary units throughout the British Isles. Within a short time they were also employed in the eighteen territorial hospitals abroad, and alongside their QAIMNS colleagues in military hospitals and casualty clearing stations in France, Belgium, Malta, Salonica, Gibraltar, Egypt, Mesopotamia and East Africa.[7]

Territorial Army Nursing Service

The Territorial Army Nursing Service (TANS) was formed in 1920, when the Territorial Force was renamed the Territorial Army. It existed until 1949, when both regular and reserve nurses joined the QARANC. Territorial Army nurses served alongside QAIMNS nurses all over the world, and in all campaigns during WW2.[7]


The initial ranking system used by the QAIMNS was as follows.

QAIMNS rank Equivalent Army rank (from 1941)
Staff Nurse[8]
Senior Sister[9]Captain
Principal MatronLieutenant-Colonel
Chief Principal Matron[10]Colonel

Senior Corps Appointments

The Colonel In Chief is The Countess of Wessex GCVO. The Corps has two Colonels Commandant, Colonel Carol Kefford who was appointed in 2018 and Colonel Jane Davis OBE QVRM TD DL who was appointed in 2014.[11]

In January 2016 a new post, Chief Nursing Officer (Army), replaced the role of Matron-in-Chief and the Director Army Nursing Services.[11]

List of Chief Nursing Officers (Army)

  • Colonel Karen J Irvine, January 2016 - January 2018[11]
  • Colonel Alison McCourt OBE ARRC QHN, February 2018 - current[11]

List of Matrons-in-Chief QAIMNS/QARANC

List of Matrons-in-Chief TFNS/TANS

See also

Other Army medical services

Other Armed Forces nursing services


  1. Grey and Scarlet – The Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps Quick March
  2. QARANC – Our History
  3. Gordon, Peter; Doughan, David (2001). Dictionary of British Women's Organisations, 1825–1960. p. 120.
  4. Piggott, Juliet (1990). Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps. Havertown, England: Pen and Sword. pp. 37, 53. ISBN 978-1-4738-1739-5.
  5. "Naval & Military intelligence – Imperial Military Nursing Service". The Times (36727). London. 28 March 1902. p. 8.
  6. "Skirt worn by Sister A Stewart Wyatt, Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, 1902". National Army Museum. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  7. "History of British Army Nursing". Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps Association. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  8. Phased out before 1944.
  9. Introduced at some time between 1902 and 1919 as Assistant Matron.
  10. Introduced in the 1920s.
  11. "Command & Control of Army Nurses". Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps Association. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  12. Such was the expansion of QAIMNS during the First World War that there were three Matrons-in-Chief simultaneously (Becher, McCarthy & Oram).
  13. Newman, Vivien (2014). We Also Served: The Forgotten Women of the First World War. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England: Pen and Sword. p. 111. ISBN 978-1-4738-4527-5.
  14. "The Passing Bell" (PDF). The British Journal of Nursing. London, England: Royal British Nurses Association. 66 (1713): 66. 29 January 1921. Retrieved 3 September 2016.

Order of precedence

Preceded by
General Service Corps
Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Corps of Army Music

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