Unit History: QA Royal Naval Nursing Service
Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service (QARNNS) is the nursing branch of the British Royal Navy. Its personnel work alongside the Royal Navy Medical Branch.
As of 1 January 2006, according to former Ministry of Defence junior minister Don Touhig, QARNNS had a total strength of 240 Naval Nurses and 90 Nursing Officers.
In 1883, a committee determined that improvements were needed in medical and nursing care in the Royal Navy. As such, in 1884, a uniformed Naval Nursing Service was introduced, staffed by trained nurses. These nurses served on shore, initially at Haslar and Plymouth.
In 1902, Alexandra of Denmark, the queen consort of Edward VII of the United Kingdom, became President of the Nursing Staff; in her honour, the Naval Nursing service was renamed Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service.
Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service Reserve was established on 13 October 1910.
In 1914, with the outbreak of the First World War, QARNNS was significantly expanded, with many volunteers from the British Red Cross and civilian hospitals; similarly, during the Second World War, many volunteer QARNNS nurses were deployed overseas.
In 1949 a nursing branch of the Women’s Royal Naval Service was formed; however, in 1960 these nurses were integrated into QARNNS, creating a single nursing service. In 1982 an integrated service was formed, allowing men to serve as nurses in QARNNS. The first man to join was Senior Nursing Officer Rajendrasen Purusrum, who was commissioned on 1 March 1983.
Although fully affiliated to the Royal Navy from 1977, QARNNS was technically a separate service until 31 March 2000, when it officially became part of the Royal Navy.
Queen Alexandra was President until her death in 1925. The following year she was succeeded by Queen Mary. Princess Alexandra became Patron in 1955.