When the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) was formed in 1902, it was decided that the Army nurses should be managed by a Matron-in-Chief.

The first Matron-in-Chief of the QAIMNS was Sidney Jane Browne (later Dame). She trained as a nurse in West Bromwich and joined the Army Nursing Service on July 1, 18831 shortly after qualifying. She was sent to Egypt in 1884 and a year later was posted to duty on the Hospital Ship Ganges. In 1885 she returned to Britain and was posted to the military hospital in Woolwich. In 1887 she was promoted to Acting Superintendent at the military hospital in Malta. She became Superintendent of the Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich in 1894 and had just transferred as Superintendent of the Connaught Hospital, Aldershot at the start of the Boer War2.

She went to South Africa and was Matron of the biggest of the base hospitals at Wynberg where Alfred Keogh was Commanding Officer. She also served at Rondesbosch3and at Springfontein3. Alfred Keogh was the Director General Army Medical Services when the new nursing service was being discussed and championed Sidney Browne as Matron-in-Chief2.

She was appointed Matron-in-Chief of the QAIMNS in April 1902 and returned to Britain2. In September that year she was awarded the RRC and given it personally by the King. Her military service made her acceptable to the RAMC, but she was also well received by the civilian matrons. Sidney Browne was a member of the Royal British Nurses Association and a founder member of the Matron’s Council. She supported and had campaigned for registration of nurses and felt this would help the military recruit nurses with recognisable qualifications. She was also supported by Queen Alexandra, who took a personal interest in the formation of the new nursing service.

Matron-in Chief QAIMNS

  • Dame Sidney Browne, 1902 – 1906
  • Caroline Keer, 1906 – 1910
  • Dame Ethel Becher, 1910 – 1919 (War Office)
  • Dame Maud McCarthy, 1914 – 1919 (France & Flanders)
  • Dame Sarah Oram, 1915 – 1919 (Middle East)
  • Beatrice Isabel Jones, 1916 – 1920 (Mesopotamia)
  • Dame Anne Beadsmore Smith, 1919 – 1924
  • Florence Hodgins, 1924 – 1928
  • Rosabelle Osborne, 1928 – 1930
  • Marguerite Medforth, 1930 – 1934
  • Daisy Martin, 1934 – 1938
  • Catherine Roy, 1938 – 1940
  • Dame Katharine Jones, 1940 – 1944
  • Dame Louisa Wilkinson, 1944 – 1946
  • Lilian Hunnings, 1946 – 1948
  • Brigadier Dame Anne Thomson, 1948 – 1949

Matron in Chief Territorial Force Nursing Service/ Territorial Army Nursing Service

  • Dame Sidney Browne, 1909 – 1920
  • Dame Maud McCarthy, 1920 – 1925
  • Dame Anne Beadsmore Smith, 1925 – 1931
  • Rosabelle Osborne, 1931 – 1936
  • Agatha Phillips, 1936 – 1940

Matron-in-Chief QARANC

(Title changed to Director Army Nursing Service in 2004)

  • Brigadier Dame Anne Thomson, 1949 – 1952
  • Brigadier Dame Helen Gillespie, 1952 – 1956
  • Brigadier Dame Monica Golding, 1956 – 1960
  • Brigadier Dame Barbara Cozens, 1960 – 1964
  • Brigadier Dame Margot Turner, 1964 – 1968
  • Brigadier Barbara Gordon, 1968 – 1973
  • Brigadier Helen Cattanach, 1973 – 1977
  • Brigadier Joan Moriarty, 1977 – 1981
  • Brigadier Vera Rooke, 1981 – 1984
  • Brigadier Rita Hennessy, 1985 – 1989
  • Brigadier Jill Field, 1989 – 1992
  • Brigadier Hilary Dixon-Nuttall, 1992 – 1995
  • Brigadier Jane Arigho, 1995 – 1999
  • Colonel Bridget McEvilly, 1999 – 2002
  • Colonel Kathy George, 2002 – 2005
  • Colonel John Quinn, 2005 – 2008
  • Colonel Wendy Spencer, 2008 – 2011
  • Colonel Pete Childerley, 2011 – 2013
  • Colonel David Bates, 2013 – 2016

Chief Nursing Officer (Army)

In July 2016 the new post, Chief Nursing Officer (Army) was established and replaced the role of Director Army Nursing Services (DANS) and Matron-in-Chief (Army).

  • Colonel Karen Irvine RRC QHN, January 2016 – January 2018
  • Colonel Alison McCourt OBE ARRC QHN, February 2018

Colonel Commandant

A Colonel Commandant of the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps is a retired senior officer of the Corps who is appointed by the Military Secretary following approval by HM The Queen.

The title Colonel Commandant dates back to the period 1922 to 1928 when this name was used as a rank for Commonwealth militaries. It is now used as the title for Officers who hold the honorary appointment within a corps or regiment of the British Army. Colonels Commandant assist the Corps by offering their experience and wisdom to support the senior team, and in maintaining esprit de corps. The period of tenure for the Colonel Commandants is between 3 to 5 years depending on his or her age and they usually retire when they reach 65 years.

  • Dame Louisa J. Wilkinson DBE RRC 1949
  • Dame Anne Thomson DBE RRC 1954
  • Dame Helen S. Gillespie DBE RRC 1956
  • Dame Monica Johnson Golding DBE RRC 1961
  • Dame Barbara Cozens DBE RRC 1966
  • Dame Margot Turner DBE RRC 1969
  • Colonel Joan Marion Orford RRC 1974
  • Brigadier Helen S Cattanach CBE, RRC 1978
  • Colonel Kathleen Grimshaw RRC 1981
  • Colonel Valerie Joy Smith RRC 1987
  • Colonel Diana Geraldine Mary Anderson RRC 1992
  • Colonel Margaret Mary Slattery RRC 1995
  • Colonel Iona Mary Leith-Macgregor RRC 2000
  • Brigadier Jane Mary Arigho CBE RRC 2005
  • Colonel Bridget McEvilly 2008
  • Colonel Rosemary Kennedy 2008
  • Colonel Sue Bush RRC 2011
  • Colonel Jane Davis OBE QVRM TD DL 2014
  • Colonel Carol Kefford 2017

References

  • The National Archives: War Office Nominal Roll of Princess Christian’s Army Nursing Service (Reserve) as at 30th September, 1900.
  • McGann, S. (1992) The Battle of the Nurses. London: Scutari Press
  • The National Archives: War Office 100/229 Medal roll for the Queen’s South Africa Medal p. 34
  • The National Archives: War Office 100/229 Medal roll for the Queen’s South Africa Medal p.163)

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