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Director Army Nursing Services (DANS) and Matron-in-Chief (Army)
Information about the role of Director Army Nursing Services (DANS) and Matron-in-Chief (Army) within the QARANC with the Officers who have held this position and dates of service:
The most senior member of the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps is the DANS whose full title is Director Army Nursing Services (DANS) and Matron-in-Chief (Army).
He or she is the highest serving Officer of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps in overall charge of the QARANC.
Upon appointment the DANS becomes the ex-officio President of the QARANC Association.
The current Director Army Nursing Services and Matron-in-Chief (Army) is Colonel David Bates ARRC L/QARANC who was appointed as DANS vice Col Childerley on July 2013. This also saw the introduction of the joint role of Assistant Director of Business Assurance and Healthcare Commissioning.
I have published a book which tells the story of The Grey Lady Ghost of the Cambridge Military Hospital which reveals her origins in the QAIMNS and where she meets a QA veteran of Afghanistan. She still walks her wards and tells her story by taking Scott Grey, a QARANC nurse, to the battlefields of World War One and beyond. This is the first in the series of Grey and Scarlet Novels by CG Buswell. Read the first chapter for free.
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Previous Directors Army Nursing Services and Matron-in-Chief (Army) of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps
Colonel Peter Childerley QHN L/QARANC who was appointed as DANS vice Col Spencer on 01 April 2011 until July 2013.
Colonel Wendy J Spencer RRC QHN L/QARANC whose tenure finished in 2011.
? to 2008 Colonel John DF Quinn OStJ and QHN (Officer of the Order of St John and Queen's Honorary Nurse). Col Quinn retired in June 2008.
2002 to 2005 Colonel Kathy George CBE (Commander of the British Empire).
1999 to 2002 Colonel Bridget McEvilly
? to 1999 Brigadier Jane Mary Arigho, CBE, Royal Red Cross Medal
? to 1995 Brigadier Hilary Dixon-Nuttall.
1981-84 Brigadier Vera Rooke. Brigadier Vera Rooke died on Sunday 13 September.
1973 to ? Brigadier Helen Cattanach RRC QHNS (Queen's Honorary Nursing Sister) More information and photo below.
1968 to 1973 Brigadier Barbara Gordon CB (Companion of the Order of the Bath) RRC, QHNS (Queen's Honorary Nursing Sister)
1964 to 1968 Brigadier Dame Margot Turner DBE (Dame British Empire), RRC, QHNS (Queen's Honorary Nursing Sister).
(photo courtesy of Dame Helen Gillespie archive, see below)
1960 to 1964 Brigadier Dame Barbara Cozens DBE, RRC, QHNS
(photo courtesy of Dame Helen Gillespie archive, see below)
1956 to 1960 Dame Monica Johnson Golding DBE (Dame of the British Empire) RRC, QHNS
1952 to 1956 Brigadier Dame Helen Shiels Gillespie DBE, RRC, QHNS (Queen's Honorary Nursing Sister).
This comes from her photograph archive and copies are also retained by the National Portrait Gallery and the Imperial War Museum. It was taken by Hay Wrightson.
The first Director Army Nursing Services (DANS) and Matron-in-Chief (Army) for the newly re-formed QARANC was Brigadier Dame Anne Thomson DBE, RRC, KHNS (King's Honorary Nursing Sister) from the 1 February 1949 to 1952 cited in Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (Famous Regts. S) by Juliet Piggott.
Prior to this the QAs were known as the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) and a similar role was the Matrons In Chief.
Dame Monica Johnson
Dame Monica Johnson studied midwifery at the Louise Margaret Maternity Hospital next to the CMH Aldershot and joined the Queen Alexandra’s Military Families Nursing Service (QAMFNS) in 1925. The QAMFNS was amalgamated into the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) in 1926. Dame Monica Johnson saw her new service when the QAIMNS became a Corps to become the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC) in 1949. Six years later Dame Monica Johnson became the Director Army Nursing Services (DANS) and Matron-in-Chief (Army) and after her retirement she continued her association with the QAs when she was appointed Colonel Commandant of the QARANC in 1961.
Brigadier Helen S Cattanach
Brigadier Helen S Cattanach was the Director Army Nursing Services (DANS) and Matron-in-Chief (Army) of the QARANC between 1973 and ?. Upon retirement she was appointed the Colonel Commandant QARANC on the 30 June 1978.
Helen S Cattanach was born in Knockando in Morayshire and attended Elgin Academy. She trained as a State Registered Nurse at Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen. During World War Two she became a member of the Civil Nursing Reserve and joined the QAIMNS (R) in June 1945. One year later she became a regular Nursing Sister of the QAIMNS. Her first 12 years of military service saw her nurse in India, Singapore, Java, Germany, Egypt and Gibraltar with postings throughout the United Kingdom Military Hospitals.
In 1958 Sister Helen Cattanach became a Staff Officer at the Army Medical Directorate at the War Office. In 1961 Helen Cattanach became the first QA officer to work at the recruiting branch of the War Office.
Helen Cattanach was awarded the Royal Red Cross Medal in 1963.
Sister Helen Cattanach then moved back to nursing where she became a ward sister in Hong Kong. Promotion soon followed and she became the Matron at BMH Munster in 1968 and then Matron at the Cambridge Military Hospital in 1969.
Colonel Helen Cattanach was then appointed the first Director of Studies QARANC. In December 1972 Col Helen Cattanach was promoted to Brigadier and appointed the Matron-in-Chief and Director of Army Nursing Services. She is noted for setting up a Regimental Headquarters for the QARANC. In 1973 she was appointed Queen’s Honorary Nursing Sister (QHNS) and in January 1976 she was awarded the CB (Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath).
Brigadier Cattanach lived in Woking in her retirement and was appointed to the position of Colonel Commandant on the 30 June 1978. She was the Chairman of the Millbank Branch of the QARANC Association.
Brigadier Helen Cattanach CB RRC QHNS (Queen's Honorary Nursing Sister) died on the 4 May 1994, aged 73 years. The obituary of Brigadier Helen S Cattanach CB RRC was published in The Gazette of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps Association Vol. 10 No. 11 and was written by Major (Retd) D J Machray.
Forces War Records
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Search Now. A unique feature is their WW1 Soldiers Medical Records section.
If you would like to contribute to this page, suggest changes or inclusions to this website or would like to send me a photograph then please e-mail me.
Official QARANC webpage.
QA Association website.
In The Company of Nurses Book.
The Grey Lady Ghost of the Cambridge Military Hospital Novel - a Book by CG Buswell
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