World War One Nurses

Australian nurses could serve in WW1 as a member of a wide variety of organisations. Most served with the Australian Army Nursing Service, but others elected to join another military service such as the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service and its Reserve, a Red Cross Society, a private hospital established to help the war effort or on home service. Listed here are a number of databases; more will be added as research progresses.

AANS (AANS AIF)

Below is a searchable listing of those who served in the Australian Army Nursing Service between 1914 and 1919. Click on an individual’s entry for more details. The date of their qualification is mainly indicative. It is given as the date they passed their association or board exam which qualified them as a nurse; it may not be the date they finally finished their period of training at their hospital.

The listing includes those untrained women who served as ward assistants on one voyage, those masseuses (physiotherapists) who served and one volunteer (VAD).

Women in the Australian Army in WW1 did not have service numbers.

Files for these women are available for free from the National Archives of Australia website – search their name in RecordSearch.

If you wish to use information from this database in relation to just an individual, cite:
Kirsty Harris, AANS WW1 nurses database, 2021, viewed on XXX [date], at https://kjhh.net.au

As the database information is copyright, if you wish to use any data for publication, including online, please contact me to obtain written permission.

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Total Records Found: 2203, showing 20 per page
Click on a last name for more details
Last Name on EnlistmentGiven NamesMarried on Service NameOther Known Last NamesYear / Date of BirthService Number
Whittingham Carrie Bowden 1872
Whyte Effie May
Wigley Nellie Jean
Wildash Elsie Caroline
Wilford Isabel Anne
Wilkins Ethel Beatrice May 1875
Wilkins Maud
Wilkinson Gertrude Gordon
Wilkinson Mabel Carla Grace 1892
Willans Florence
Willans Una Evelyn
Williams Bertha Mary
Williams Blodwyn Elizabeth
Williams Catherine Martha M
Williams Edith Dean
Williams Eileen Rose
Williams Elizabeth Kate
Williams Fannie Eleanor 1884
Williams Harriet Cecilia Hordern (called Lalla) 1889
Williams Henrietta Taylor 1882

 

AANS Home Service (AANS AMF)

The official personnel files held on members of the AANS (reference number B2455) do not reflect all members of the AANS who served during WW1.

From 1915, there was an additional group of nurses who served solely in Australia. Apart from some files that were retained in South Australia, there is often no formal file for these nurses. Thus, there were two different AANS services during the war:

  1. AANS AIF – which we have most files for
  2. AANS AMF (sometimes also called AANS CMF) – for which we have very few files.

Once you know there are two services, it is normally quite easy to see in a personnel file when the nurse transferred between them. There are often two dates in the file; the one on enlistment in the AANS AMF (normally at the bottom of the attestation form) and then the date they left Australia for AIF service.

There is a small group of 17 AANS nurses who served solely in Australia who did become members of the AANS AIF after the war ended. They were activated for the national emergency of the Spanish flu in late 1918/1919. Others who worked as military nurses in quarantine stations are listed as AANS AMC. I have included them in the home service database.

Home Service did not end on Armistice Day in 1918 but continued through 1919 as troops returned to Australia from overseas and still required medical attention. In 1921 military hospitals were taken over by the Repatriation Department; at this time, quite a number of AANS transferred to the Department to continue nursing their ‘boys’.

The names of the more than 400 nurses listed in this database are gleaned from a variety of sources including newspapers, hospital publications, relatives and honour boards/war memorials. It is expected that many more names might be added. Any assistance that can be provided in this regard will be appreciated. I have a long list of possible names but have been unable to verify their service. Therefore, if you have photos or documents of a relative in an AANS uniform and they are not on the databases here, please contact me.

The list excludes any nurse who actually served in the AANS AIF overseas; more than 400 of them did nurse on the home service before, after, or during their AIF service. One nurse spent two years on home service; most spent a few months. It was generally mandatory from late 1916, when all the home hospitals were open, for nurses desiring to go overseas to spend some time on Home Service so that they learnt the mores of military nursing and Army life. There are some notable exceptions, for example, in 1917 when a very large number of nurses had to be enlisted for service in British hospitals in Salonika.

Nurses who served with other organisations and military services could also belong to the Home Service. For example, a nurse serving with the QAIMNSR may have returned to Australia after completing her contract and then enlisted in the AANS AMF.

As with the AANS AIF nurses, the date given in regards to the nurse’s training hospital, relates to the date that they passed their nursing registration exam.

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Total Records Found: 429, showing 20 per page
Click on a last name for more details
Last Name on EnlistmentGiven NamesMarried on Service NameOther Known Last NamesYear / Date of BirthService Number

 

QAIMNSR

Many Australian nurses also served with the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS), mostly in their Reserve, usually designated as QAIMNSR. Below is a searchable listing of those who served in the QAIMNSR between 1914 and 1919. To be eligible to enlist in the QAs (as they were commonly called) a nurse required a general certificate and a midwifery certificate.

Nurses in the QAs had quite a different experience to the AANS, with a different uniform, pay scale, roles and responsibilities. For more information on the QAs, read my article ‘Red Rag to a British Bull’ at this link.

If you wish to use information from this database in relation to just an individual, please cite:
Kirsty Harris, QAIMNSR WW1 nurses database, 2021, viewed on XXX [date], at https://kjhh.net.au

As the database information is copyright, if you wish to use any data for publication, including online, please contact me to obtain written permission.

If you find an error or an omission please feel free to contact me via my Contact Page to discuss.

Abbreviations
Many nurses who served with a British service, nursed with more than one organisation. Some of the abbreviations used in the database are:

AVH – Australian Voluntary Hospital, France
FFNC – French Flag Nursing Corps
ARCS – Australian Red Cross Society
BRCS – British Red Cross Society
HS – Home Service with the AANS
AN&MEF – Australian Naval & Military Expeditionary Force, New Guinea 1914
American Ambulance – American Ambulance Hospital, France

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Total Records Found: 269, showing 20 per page
Click on a last name for more details
Last Name on EnlistmentGiven NamesMarried on Service NameOther Known Last NamesYear / Date of BirthService Number

 

Territorial Force Nursing Service (TFNS)

The QAs were not the only British nursing service existing in WW1. The Territorials were a reserve, formed before the war. Sue Light’s website at http://www.scarletfinders.co.uk/92.html gives a history. The majority of its members spent their wartime service in the United Kingdom. Although traditionally, military nurses were required to be either single or widowed with no dependents, during wartime the extreme shortage of trained nurses meant that married women were welcomed into the TFNS, and if a serving nurse wished to marry, permission was normally granted for her to remain in the service. 

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Total Records Found: 11, showing 20 per page
Click on a last name for more details
Last Name on EnlistmentGiven NamesMarried on Service NameOther Known Last NamesYear / Date of BirthService Number

 

Red Cross Societies

The Red Cross is best known in WW1 for the VADs that served in their thousands – men and women from all walks of life who volunteered to help, and often becoming very experienced in the many fields in which they served.

While the Australian Red Cross arranged for 20 trained nurses known as the Bluebirds to go to help France in 1916, other Australian professional nurses already in Europe joined the British or French Red Cross Societies. Many enlisted in these organisations in 1914 as the official defence forces took longer to organise arrangements for their nurses. Others later joined Red Cross as they did not meet the criteria for a military service as they were over age. At least three of these nurses had already had military service during the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902.

Abbreviations include:

ARCS – Australian Red Cross Society
BRCS – British Red Cross Society
FFNC – French Flag Nursing Corps
French RC – French Red Cross Society
Botha’s Force – General Botha’s force in German South-West Africa

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Total Records Found: 85, showing 20 per page
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Last Name on EnlistmentGiven NamesMarried on Service NameOther Known Last NamesYear / Date of BirthService Number

 

Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force/Tropical Force

The Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) was a small volunteer force raised in Australia shortly after the outbreak of World War I in 1914, to seize and destroy German wireless stations in German New Guinea in the south-west Pacific. Following the capture of German possessions in the area, the AN&MEF provided occupation forces for the duration of the war. In 1916, the AN&MEF was replaced by the Tropical Force (TF).

The first nurses went to Rabaul on the Australian Navy’s hospital ship Grantala in August 1914 and returned in December; most then enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service.

All but a few of the nurses who went to New Guinea served in either the AANS AIF or the AANS AMF on home service. There was a cohort who went to New Guinea after their AANS service, and after the end of the war, and they have been included in the list.

 

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Total Records Found: 29, showing 20 per page
Click on a last name for more details
Last Name on EnlistmentGiven NamesMarried on Service NameOther Known Last NamesYear / Date of BirthService Number
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