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Military Medal Awards To QA Nurses


The QAIMNS and QARANC nurses who have been awarded the Military Medal and other medals for bravery


Military Medal The Military Medal (MM) was first established by King George V on 25 March 1916 to award Warrant Officers and Other Ranks for bravery in battle on land. It was awarded to members of the British Army and related services such as the QAIMNS, when the medal could be awarded to women after a new ruling in June 1916. It was also awarded to equivalent members of the Commonwealth countries. The Commander in Chief would recommend recipients for the Military Medal.

The amendment was published as a Royal Warrant on the 21 June 1916 and was published in the London Gazette on the 27 June 1916. It read:

Whereas we did by Royal Warrant under Our Sign Manual dated 25th March, 1916, institute and create a silver medal entitled The Military Medal be awarded to non-commissioned officers and men for bravery in the Field;

And whereas we are desirous that, under special circumstances, women shall be eligible for the award of the said medal;

It is our will and pleasure and we do hereby ordain that The Military Medal may, under exceptional circumstances, on the special recommendation of a Commander-in-Chief in the Field, be awarded to women, whether subjects or foreign persons, who have shown bravery and devotion under fire.


After the June 1916 amendment that females could be awarded the Military Medal two of the first female recipients were civilians for their conduct during the Easter Rising in Dublin.

QAs were given officer status since 1904 but no rank so were able to be awarded the Military Medal. In World War One the Matron In Chief of the British Expeditionary Force, Dame Maud McCarthy, would include one of her official cards with the words With Heartiest Congratulations printed above her signature.

Commissioned Officers were awarded the Military Cross (MC), which could also be awarded to Warrant Officers.

Personnel that were awarded the Military Medal could use the letters MM after their name.

Medical Services in the First World War cites that 55 members of the QAIMNS and the TFNS were awarded the MM for gallantry. Honours and Awards to Women: The Military Medal breaks this down to 8 awarded to the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, 29 to the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve and 17 to the Territorial Force Nursing Service (making 54, though the author, Norman G Gooding, only included the gazetted awards and notes that there was one non-gazetted award to a British woman). The RAMC were awarded 3002 along with 199 bars.

MM The Military Medal was silver and had the face of the Monarch on the front of the 36mm diameter medal and the ribbon was dark blue, with three narrow white and two narrow crimson stripes at the centre. Subsequent acts of bravery would be awarded with a silver laurelled bar. The reverse of the Military Medal has the inscription “FOR BRAVERY IN THE FIELD”.

Some 115,600 medals were awarded during the First World War, with 5796 first bars, 180 second bars and 1 third bar. During World War Two 15,000 Military Medals were awarded with 177 first bars and 1 second bar. Between the two world wars 300 medals and 4 first bars were awarded for bravery during campaigns. Since 1947 932 Military Medals and 8 first bars were conferred (Medal Yearbook 2013).

During a review of the gallantry awards in 1993 the Military Medal was discontinued and all ranks could thereafter be awarded the Military Cross.



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QAIMNS Medals

A collector of British military medals has purchased the above collection of QAIMNS nurses medals from the First World War and needs some help in traced their history. In the photo above the medals and ribbons are from left to right the Associate Royal Red Cross Medal (ARRC), Military Medal (MM), 1915 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal and the Service Medal to the Order of St John. The owner can be narrowed down a bit because only 122 Military Medals were awarded to female nurses of the First World War. Some recipients of the MM are described further below. The owner hopes to cross reference the recipients of the MM with ARRC recipients and then check those results with Clerkenwell for the award of the Service Medal to the Order of St John. If you can help then please contact me.

First World War Nurses Medals



Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service Holders of the Military Medal


Ethel Garrett

Sister Ethel Garrett was awarded the Military Medal (MM) during the First World War for her brave actions during an enemy air raid on Number 37 General Hospital which was attached to the Serbian army. Together with QA Reserve sisters Rebecca Calhoun and Margaret Smith Dewar they tried to provide cover for their patients. Sister Dewar was struck in the chest by a piece of bomb casing that had exploded nearby as she knelt over a wounded soldier. Sister Calhoun went to her aid but she died in her arms. She herself did not escape injury during this air raid and was hit by a bomb splinster as she attended patients. Sister Garrett attended a soldier who had been wounded by a German bomb and had sustained a compound fracture of his skull. She risked her own life to administer life saving first aid. Whilst she was doing this 14 bombs fell within an 80 yard radius of their location.

Ethel Garrett was a member of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve QAIMNS(R) and served at No 37 General Hospital at Vertekop, Solonika during WWI. She was also awarded the French Croix-de-Guerre and the Serbian Military Medal For Valour from the Crown Prince of Serbia (also awarded to Sister Calhoun and was the first time it was awarded to women). She died in February 1972. She was 89 years old.

The following extracts are from the War Office Library publication J H Leslie – An Historical roll with Portraits of those women of the British Empire to whom the Military Medal has been awarded during the Great War, 1914-1918, for Bravery and Devotion under Fire, 1920. Published in August it contained 11 portraits of QAs with biographies and has been kindly provided by Terry Hissey. The cover reads:

Dedicated by special permission to Her Majesty Queen Alexandra an Historical Roll (with portraits) of those women of the British Empire to whom the Military Medal has been awarded during the Great War 1914 – 1918 for bravery and devotion under fire. Compiled by Lieutenant-Colonel J.H. Leslie.


Historical Roll Women of the British Empire




Laura Elizabeth James

Miss Laura Elizabeth James



Only child of the late Dr David Philip James, of Wellington, New Zealand.

Born at Hokitika New Zealand, was educated at the Girls’ College, Wellington, and at Mrs Croasdaile Bowen’s Private School, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Trained, and afterwards a Sister , at Wellington Hospital, New Zealand.

Appointed to Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service on 3 November 1910.

Was mobilised as a Sister in August 1914, and went to France. Has served abroad continously ever since.

Since August, 1918, has been Acting Matron of No. 51 Stationary Hospital with the Italian Expeditionary Force.

Decorations, Medals, Etc.

Military Medal (London Gazette, No. 30188, page 7275, of 18 July 1917).

The Bronze Star – 1914.

5 Service Chevrons – 1 red and 4 blue.

Mentioned in General Sir Douglas Haig’s Despatch of 13 November, 1916 (London Gazette, No. 29890 page 250, of 4 January 1917).



Louisa Mary Gilbert

Louisa Mary Gilbert



Elder daughter of Mr and Mrs Henry Edward Gilbert, was born at Lewisham, Kent, on 1 December, 1889.

Joining Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service in October, 1915, she went to France immediately, as Staff Nurse, and has served there continuously up to the present time.

She now holds the rank of Acting Sister.

The award of the Military Medal was announced in The London Gazette (no. 30287) of 17 September, 1917.

Miss Gilbert bears 4 service (blue) chevrons.



Annie Rebecca Cohoun

Annie Rebecca Cohoun



3rd daughter of Mr Robert Colhoun, Contractor, on Londonderry and Buncrana, was born at Londonderry and educated at Strand House School, in that town. She was trained as a Nurse in the Co. Tyrone Hospital, and in the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, and prior to the war was Matron of a small hospital near Vancouver, British Columbia.

She joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service in June, 1916, and was sent to Salonika, serving as Staff Nurse in the 37th General Hospital(1600 beds) near Monastir, nursing Serbians. This hospital was bombarded by aeroplanes on the morning of 12 March, 1917, when Miss Colhoun was wounded. In connection with this, the Military Medal (The London Gazette, No 30095, page 5190, of 26 May, 1917) was awarded to her:-

”For conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during an enemy air raid. She attended to, and provided for the safety of, helpless patients. She was assisting Staff Nurse Dewar when the latter was fatally wounded, and although the tent was full of smoke and acrid fumes, and she had been struck by a fragment of bomb, she attended to Staff Nurse Dewar and also to the case of a helpless patient.”

In July, 1917, she returned to England and served in the Military Hospital at Husley Camp, near Winchester.

Miss Colhoun was married on 24 July, 1917, to Private F.L.Crofton, Canadian Army Service Corps, 4th son of the late Captain the Hon. F.G. Crofton, Royal Navy (d. 1900), and then retired from service. She has one son (Francis David Lowther), born on 26 January, 1919.

In addition to the Military Medal, Mrs Crofton has

The French Croix de Guerre (bronze star).

The Serbian Gold Medal.

9 blue Service Chevrons



Beatrice Alice Allsop

Miss Beatrice Alice Allsop QAIMNS



Only child or Mr and Mrs Henry Allsop, was born in London (Wandsworth) in April, 1882, and was educated at the Clapham School, Clapham.

She joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service (Reserve) as “Sister”, in August, 1914, and embarked for France in the following week, with No. 7 General Hospital. During the war she served as “Sister” in charge of Surgical wards (for last three years in charge of the operating theatre), both at Casualty Clearing Stations and Base Hospitals.

She was one of the six ladies (The other five were Lady Dorothie ME Feilding, Miss N Easeby RRC, Miss E Hutchinson, Miss MM Tunley RRC and Miss JS Whyte) to whom the first award of the Military Medal was made (The London Gazette, No. 29731, page 8653, of 1 September, 1916).

It was awarded to her for services rendered when the Bethune hospitals were shelled in August, 1916.

In addition to the Military Medal, Miss Allsop has:-

The Bronze Star – 1914.

1 red and 4 blue Service Chevrons.



Ethel Isabella Devenish-Meares

Ethel Isabella Devenish Meares



Second daughter of the late Mr Joseph Leycester Devenish-Meares, of Meares Court, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, where the family has been seated for nearly 300 years, was born in 1876 at Newry, Co. Down.

She was educated at home; at Morehampton House, Dublin; and at Dusseldorf, Germany.

She entered Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Services (Reserve) in 1909. And was called up for active service in August, 1914. She served throughout the war in France and in Belgium as Sister and Matron in Casualty Clearing Stations and in hospitals – Lemans and Poperinghe (1914); Lillers (1915); Dieppe, Etaples, and Le Treport (1915-6); Albert, 1916; and Avesnes (1916-7).

The Military Medal was awarded to her, and to six other ladies (The London Gazette, No. 30433, page 13223, of 18 December, 1917):-

”For bravery and conspicuous devotion in the performance of their duties whilst exposed to enemy shell fire or bombs dropped by enemy aircraft.” On 20 October, 1917, when Sister in charge of No.37 Casualty Clearing Station, at Godesvaervelde.

Miss Devenish-Meares was mentioned in Field Marshall Sir John French’s despatch of 31 May, 1915 (The London Gazette, No. 29200, page 4291, of 22 June, 1915), and in Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig’s despatch of 7 November, 1917 (The London Gazette, No. 20445, page 13487, of 24 December, 1917),

She was appointed an Associate of the Order of the Royal Red Cross (ARRC) on 1 January, 1917, and a member (RRC) on 3 June, 1919.

In addition to the Military Medal Miss Devenish-Meares has:-

The Bronze Star, 1914.

1 red and 4 blue service chevrons.

Sisters who served during the war.

Miss GM Devenish-Meares, Soldiers’ Home and Red Cross work.

Miss F Devenish-Meares, Voluntary Aid Detachment – nursing.

Brothers who served during the war.

Lieutenant JF Devenish-Meares, Territorial Force Reserve (General list).

Captain LF Devenish-Meares, South African Army Service Corps

2nd Lieutenant WL Devenish-Meares New Zealand Infantry (Otago Regiment). Wounded near Cambrai in October, 1918, and lost a leg.



Ethel Francis Watkins

Ethel Francis Watkins



Daughter of Mr and Mrs William Haggis, was born at Oxford, and was educated at a private school there.

She went to France in October, 1914, working with the British Red Cross Society until April, 1915, when she joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (Reserve), serving at various Casualty Clearing Stations and Base Hospitals.

The Military Medal was awarded to her (The London Gazette, No. 30059, page 12303, of 19 October, 1918):-

"For gallantry and devotion to duty during an enemy air raid on 26 July, 1918, at Aubigay – No. 57 Casualty Clearing Station which lasted for four hours. Sister Watkins behaved with the utmost coolness. When wounded by a piece of shrapnel she made light of her injury and set a magnificent example to those who were with her.”

Mrs Watkins was mentioned in Field-Marshal Sir John French’s despatch of 30 November, 1915 (The London Gazette, No. 29422, page 27, of 1 January, 1916), and in addition to the Military Medal has:-

(a)The Bronze Star, 1914.

(b) The Order of the Royal Red Cross, 2nd class.

(c) The British War Medal, 1914 – 1919.

(d) The Victory Medal, with oak-leaf emblem.

(e) 1 red and 4 blue service chevrons.

She returned to England in August 1918.

Mrs Watkins was married in 1913 to Mr Charles Warren Glynn Watkins of “Malowa”, Gilgil, British East Africa. He died there from typhoid fever in 1914.

Sister who served during the war.

Miss Margaret Gertrude Haggis, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (Reserve). Served in Egypt and Palestine.



Mary Gladys Corrinia Foley

Mary Gladys Corrinia Foley

Third daughter of the late Edward Howley Foley, Esq, J.P., and Mrs Foley, of Ballyard House, Tralee, Co. Kerry, was born there on 15 May, 1881, and was educated at home.

She joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service on 1 May, 1909, and was promoted to the rank of Sister on 18 May, 1917.

She left England on 13 August, 1914, and served in Belgium, France and Germany for 4 years and 11 months as Sister in charge of Casualty Clearing Stations in the forward areas.

The Military Medal was awarded to her and another lady, Miss Mabel Jennings, (The London Gazette, No 30471, page 725, of 11 January, 1918):-

”For coolness and gallantry displayed in the performance of their duties when a casualty clearing station was heavily shelled” at Bethune, on 11 December, 1917.

When hostilities ceased on 11 November, 1918, Miss Foley remained with the army at Turcoing, and proceeded to Cologne, in Germany, doing duty as acting Matron of 64th Casualty Clearing Station. She returned to England in July, 1919.

Her name was mentioned in Field-Marshal Sir John French’s despatch of 30 November, 1915 (The London Gazette, No. 29422, of 1 January, 1916), and in Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig’s despatch of 16 March, 1919 (The London Gazette, No. 31446, of 10 July, 1919).

In addition to the Military Medal, Miss Foley has received:-

(a) The Bronze Star, 1914.

(b) The Order of the Royal Red Cross, (2nd Class).

(c) The Order of the Royal Red Cross (1st Class).

(d) The British War Medal, 1914 – 1919.

(e) The “Victory” Medal, with oak leaf emblem.

(f) 1 red and 4 blue service chevrons.

She was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (Military Division), in 1919 (The London Gazette, No 31370, page 6799, of 3 June 1919).

The Order of the British Empire, of the Royal Red Cross (1st class), and the Military Medal were presented to Miss Foley by His Majesty the King, at Buckingham Palace, London, on 18 November, 1919.

Brother who served in the war.

Major PT Foley OBE Royal Munster Fusiliers.





Mary Agatha Brown

Mary Agatha Brown

Daughter of the late Mr John Bower Brown, Manager of the Sheffield and Hallamshire Bank, Sheffield, was born in Sheffield, and was educated at the Convent of Notre Dame there, and at Namur in Belgium. She was trained at Firvale Infirmary, Sheffield, and afterwards did private nursing for several years in London.

She joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (Reserve) in December, 1914, serving in England (at Netley Hospital and on ambulance trains, etc,), until October, 1916. She then went to France and served in hospitals at Boulogne, Lillers, St. Omer, Le Treport and Dieppe.

She was awarded the Military Medal (The London Gazette, No. 30725, page 6553, of 4 June, 1918):-

”For bravery and devotion to duty during an hostile bombing raid when in company with the Matron who was severely wounded and a Sister who was killed. She remained with them and tended them till help arrived. Subsequently she returned to the Casualty Clearing Station and worked devotedly for many hours, under conditions of great danger.”

Miss Brown is entitled to wear 3 blue service chevrons.



Lucie Maud Mary Toller

Lucie Maud Mary Toller

Daughter of Mr and Mrs Richard Pancoust Swannell Toller, was born at Denny Abbey, Waterbeach, Cambs., and was educated at home and at Cambridge.

She was appointed to Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service on 7 July, 1904, in which she has served continuously ever since.

Miss Toller went to France in August, 1914, and has served abroad at various Hospitals, etc., during the whole period of the War – since January, 1917, as Matron. She returned to England in February, 1919.

The Military Medal was awarded to her (The London Gazette, No. 30820, page 9000, of 30 July, 1918):-

”For gallantry and devotion to duty during an enemy air raid at Etaples, in the night of 30 – 31 May, 1918. When the Sisters’ quarters were wrecked and nurses wounded, Sister Toller collected the staff and placed them in comparative safety. By her fine example she undoubtedly saved life.”

In addition to the Military Medal, Miss Toller has:-

(a) The Bronze Star, 1914, with clasp.

(b) The Order of the Royal Red Cross, 1st Class.

(c) The British War Medal, 1914 – 1919.

(d) The Victory Medal, with oak leaf emblem.

(e) Medaille des Epidemies en Vermeil.

(f) 1 red and 4 blue service chevrons.

Miss Toller’s name was mentioned in Field-Marshal Sir John French’s despatch of 30 November, 1915 (The London Gazette, No. 29422, of 1 January, 1916).



Susan Deverell Munroe

Susan Deverell Munroe

Fourth daughter of Mr and Mrs Alexander Munroe, of Alness, Ross-shire, was born at Kinloch Tongue, Sutherlandshire, was educated at the Durness Higher Grade School, and was trained as a Nurse at the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, afterwards serving at Dalmeny House hospital.

She joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (Reserve) in 1916, and proceeded to France in March of that year, there serving at various hospitals (Rouen, No. 5 Casualty Clearing Station, and Etaples) as Staff Nurse.

The Military Medal was awarded to her (The London Gazette, No. 30820, page 9000, of 30 July, 1918):-

”For gallantry and devotion to duty during an enemy air raid at Etaples, France, on 20 May, 1918, which wrecked three of her wards. She showed coolness and contempt of danger and a solicitude for her patients which was invaluable.”

It was presented to her by HM the King. At Buckingham Palace, London, on 10 December, 1919.

Miss Munroe returned to England in July, 1919, and was then demobilized.

In addition to the Military Medal Miss Munroe has:-

(a) The British War Medal, 1914 – 1919.

(b) The Victory Medal.

(c) 4 blue service chevrons.

Brothers who served during the war.

Lieutenant AH Munroe, 1st Canadian Tank Battalion.

Cadet DT Munroe, Canadian Royal Air Force.



Charlotte Lilian Anne Robinson

Charlotte Lilian Anne Robinson

Youngest daughter of the late Mr and Mrs Alfred Murray Robinson was born at Shanghai, and was educated at Ravenswood (private school), Kent, at the High School, Oxford, and was trained at St. George’s hospital, London.

She joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service in October, 1912, and was promoted to the rank of Sister on 21 October, 1917.

She went out to France on 13 August, 1914, with No. 2 General Hospital, and served there in various hospitals and Casualty Clearing Stations with the 5th and 2nd Armies.

The Military Medal was presented to her in the field (at Blenderques) in June, 1918, by General Sir Herbert Plumer, then in command of the 2nd Army (The London Gazette, No. 30820, page 8999, of 30 July, 1918):-

”For conspicuous devotion to duty and courage when a stationary hospital was struck by four bombs from an enemy aeroplane and one wing was practically cut in two, many patients being buried in the debris. Sister Robinson at very great personal risk went in amongst the ruins to assist in recovering the patients, quite regardless of danger, her one thought being the rescue of the patients. She displayed magnificent coolness and resource.”

In the London Gazette her second and third Christian names are wrongly spelled “Lillian Annie.”

Miss Robinson returned to England in May, 1919. Since January, 1920, she has been serving in Mesopotamia.

In addition to the Military Medal she has received:-

(a) The Bronze Star, 1914.

(b) The Order of the Royal Red Cross (2nd Class).

(c) The British War Medal, 1914 – 1919.

The Victory Medal.

1 red and 4 blue service chevrons.

Sister who served in the war.

Miss AM Robinson, Unit Administrator, Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps.

A full listing of QAs awarded the MM can be read in Honours and Awards to Women: The Military Medal.


Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps Holders of the Military Medal



In his book Wartime Nurse: One Hundred Years from the Crimea to Korea 1854-1954 Eric Taylor documents two nurses who were involved in a bombing during the First World War that killed one QA and badly injured another. They administered emergency first aid during the air raid and ensured their safe evacuation before reporting back to duty in the operating theatre. They were awarded the Military Medal for displaying the most wonderful courage. Unfortunately the names of the QAIMNS nursing sisters are not cited.


If you know of a QA who has been awarded the Military Medal then please contact me so that I can update this page with more information.


Military Cross Recipients

Below are Military Cross recipients of the QARANC and RAMC:



Michelle Norris

The account of how Private Michelle Norris was awarded her Military Cross can be read in the opening chapter of The Real Tenko: Extraordinary True Stories of Women Prisoners of the Japanese.

Private Michelle Norris MC of the Royal Army Medical Corps was only 19 years of age when she awarded the Military Cross. She gave emergency first aid to a wounded soldier on 11 June 2006 in Iraq despite being under continual fire from the enemy. One bullet even struck her medical rucksack.



A Qaranc.co.uk reader has recently purchased a set of medals (miniatures) and would like to research who they belonged to. These were an OBE, RRC, 39/45 Star, Africa Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal, Victory Medal and an UN Medal with a Korean Bar. If you can suggest a website or service where their history can be researched please contact qaranc.co.uk




Military Medals Awarded To Other Female Soldiers

Six women were awarded the Military Medal during the Second World War and 2 Military Medals were awarded to women for service in Northern Ireland in the 1970s which included Lcpl Sarah Jane Warke of the Women's Royal Army Corps (WRAC) for her undercover work in Belfast in 1972. Lance Corporal Warke took part in Operation Four Square Laundry where she operated a laundry van as Kate with Sapper Ted Stuart who pretended to be her brother. They collected and delivered laundry so that they could gather intelligence from gossip and forensic evidence from the laundry and area. The IRA discovered their operation and Sapper Stuart was shot dead during an ambush at the Twinbrook Estate on 2 October 1972. Locals thought the van was being attacked by Loyalists and aided “Kate”, the undercover agent, to escape. Lcpl Warke was the first member of the WRAC to be awarded the Military Medal. She died in 2007. Her Military Medal and Ribbon and Campaign Service Medal (Clasp: Northern Ireland) are in the Imperial War Museum collection.









A wall plaque and shield is available to buy through Amazon. The shield is hand made and ready to hang on the wall. .

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Official QARANC webpage.

QA Association website.


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