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Gulf War

Information about the Army Medical Services during the First Gulf War Operation Granby of 1990 to 1991 including the Field Hospitals such as 33 General Surgical Hospital and 22 Field Hospital:

The Gulf War of August 1990 saw the largest deployment of the QAs since World War Two. In the UK it was codenamed as Operation Granby whilst in the United States of America the codenames were Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield.

Two QARANC officers were posted to Saudi Arabia along with other members of the tri-service to work with staff at the Saudi Arabian Military Hospital in Dharan.

22 Field Hospital

In September 22 Field Hospital Aldershot deployed to Bahrain Island and then forward to Wadi Al Batin in Northern Saudi Arabia. In October 1990 the staff of the Cambridge Military Hospital Aldershot were mobilised as 33 Field Hospital to Al Jubayl on the East coast of Saudi Arabia under the leadership of Colonel Eric Gruber von Arni the Matron and Chief Med Nursing Middle East (cited in the book
Sub Cruce Candida: A Celebration of One Hundred Years of Army Nursing).

No 4 RAF War Hospital

No 4 RAF War Hospital took over from 22 Field Hospital and one of the nursing staff was Bob Widders who has written about his experiences in his book A Few Deeds Short of a Hero. He describes working under ColPro (Collective Protection), how he and his colleagues coped with Scud missile attacks, wearing respirators and NBC protective suits, vaccinations against biological warfare such as anthrax and botulinism, taking NAPS tablets with the worry over side effects and running the Bahrain International Marathon representing the RAFWH.

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33 General Surgical Hospital (also referred to as 33 Field Hospital) opened in a tyre factory and at its full capacity during the height of the Gulf War had 600 beds and 936 military staff (Cited in Vol 11 No 2 of The Gazette of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps Association).

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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32 Field Hospital

Other QARANC and RAMC units deployed to the GulfWar included BMH Hannover as 32 Field Hospital and the Territorial Army (TA) unit 205 (Scottish) General Hospital.

The staff of 32 Field Hospital decorated their entrance with a garden and the book Sub Cruce Candida: A Celebration of One Hundred Years of Army Nursing has a picture of what they nicknamed The Desert Rose Home of 32 Field Hospital. This Commanding Officer's rose garden was well cared for during the conflict and proved therapeutic for the staff and was not an unusual practice by QA's during periods of war and conflict. On the World War One Photographs page there are Sisters of the QAIMNS tending to their gardens in Basra Hospital, Mesopotamia.

The regimental band of the Gordon Highlanders served with 32 Field Hospital during Op Granby (cited in The Gordon Highlanders: A Concise History by Trevor Royle).

Gulf War Postcard 1991

The image above is a postcard produced in 1991 from artist Douglas N. Anderson from his watercolour painting depicting a QA Captain and Corporal. (with thanks to Terry Hissey)

33 Field Hospital

33 Field Hospital Reception Department treated 6000 patients of which 3000 became in patients and over 200 surgical procedures were performed (cited in the book Sub Cruce Candida: A Celebration of One Hundred Years of Army Nursing).

The book Sub Cruce Candida: A Celebration of One Hundred Years of Army Nursing has many photographs from the Gulf War including the staff of 22 Field Hospital filling sandbags during Operation Granby in Bahrain, the setting up of the main war, a church service, a street trader near to 22 Field Hospital in Bahrain, the tented hospital at Wadi al Batin, the main entrance of 33 Field Hospital at Al Jubayl in Saudi Arabia, a tented ward at 33 Field Hospital on Christmas Day, the recovery ward, the visit of General Sir Peter de la Billiere the Commander of the British Forces, staff dressed in NBC kit against a Scud attack, examples of NBC drill posters with the face of Saddam Hussein and the Medical Reception Station (MRS) Old Port Barracks Al Jubail.

Memories of a Nursing Officer who served with 212 Field Hospital (Birmingham) in Kuwait and 34 Fld Hosp in Iraq can be read on the DKMH Catterick page.

The QAs returned to the region over a decade later during Operation Telic.

The QAs received many honours for their service in the Gulf War and these include:

Lt Col (Later Colonel and DANS) K. George, Matron 22 Field Hospital, and Lt Colonel E. Gruber von Arni (then RAMC but later Colonel L/QARANC and DOS QARANC) both received the Royal Red Cross First Class in the Gulf Honours List.

From the London Gazette 52588:

Ministry of Defence, Whitehall, LONDON S.W.I

29th June 1991

The Queen has been graciously pleased to give orders for the following appointment to the Royal Red Cross in recognition of service within the operations in the Gulf:

To be Ordinary Associates of the Royal Red Cross,
Second Class:

Captain Ruth Margaret BOULTON (519057), Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps.

Captain Agnes Caldwell SMITH (525561), Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (Territorial Army).

Major Marie WATSON, T.D. (503362), Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (Territorial Army).

(With thanks to Terry Hissey for the London Gazette information)

If you would like to contribute any info, photographs or share your memories of the Gulf War then please contact me.

Forces War Records

Forces War Records are a genealogy site where you can find military records of over 6 million British Armed Forces personnel cross matched with over 4000 Regiments, Bases and Ships. This link includes a free search and a special discount of 40% off membership offer for visitors who use the discount code AF40 if they decide to become a member.
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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