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Nicknames QARANC Nurses

Slang nicknames for members of the The Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps:


Like most army corps the QAs have nicknames that are commonly used by other members of the forces. They are mostly harmless humour based and are included on this page for information and a bit of fun.

Grey Mafia

The most common nickname for QARANC nurses is the Grey Mafia because of the grey nursing uniform and grey beret. The mafia bit of the nickname comes from patients having to do as they are told by nurses!

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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Male nurses are called Handbags. There are a couple of theories for this. Some think it is because of the female QAs historic uniform issue of a black handbag others say it dates back to World War One when medics of the Royal Army Medical Corps carried a shoulder satchel of first aid kit. Some soldiers saw their role as feminine and called this vital bag a handbag.

Trolley Dollies

From the days when Health Care Assistants were known as Ward Stewardess and did more domestic duties they were called Trolley Dollies. The sight of many a Ward Stewardess pushing a trolley was a common sight in any British Military Hospital.

Quick And Ready And Never Caught

A less flattering nickname for the QARANC was Quick And Ready And Never Caught. I'll leave the explanation for that QA nickname to your imagination!

A much nicer acronym for the initials of QARANC is Quiet And Reserved And Nice Company. Though the average squaddie would probably prefer the first! Other submitted nicknames for QARANC nurses along these lines include Quiet And Reserved And Never Caught.

Quiet And Refined And Never Crude

Quiet And Refined And Never Crude was a gentler nickname used for the QARANC. Quiet And Refined And Never Crude was most popular during the 1970s.

Red Capes

An affectionate nickname for QA officers during World War One was Red Capes because of the short scarlet capes worn by QAIMNS nursing sisters. Julie Piggott traces this nickname for army nurses back to the South African War (cited in the book Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (Famous Regts. S)).

Quid A Roll And No Change

A rather naughty nickname for the QAs is Quid A Roll And No Change!

If you know of any other nicknames for QARANC nurses or the QAIMNS and RAMC then please contact me so they can be included on this page. Thank you!

QAIMNS Nicknames

Even the QAIMNS (Queen Alexandra's Imperial Army Nursing Corps) did not escape nicknames given to them by the rest of the army. For example the book Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (Famous Regts. S) by Juliet Piggott) describes two QAIMNS nicknames of Queer And Impossible, Mostly Not Sane and Queer Assortment of Individuals, Mostly Non Sexed!


In various correspondence have noted many people wrongly write the word Quaranc and some references have also used the word Quaranc to describe the QAs. We are not sure why this spelling derivation has originated and if you can help with any information then please contact us.

One explanation about the use of QUARANC we have been grateful to receive is that it might be that as words starting with the letter Q in the English language are spelled with the initial two letters being QU, this usage for words has slipped over into the realm of abbreviations which often as not are pronounced as words.

VAD Nicknames

The Voluntary Aid Detachment worked alongside the QAs in hospitals in Britain during World War One and as the war progressed VAD nurses were employed overseas. Their work was invaluable and well recognised by the Tommy soldier - so much so that they awarded the VADS with their own nicknames. Here are some VAD nicknames:

Very Artful Darlings

Very Active Dusters

Victim Always Dies (cited in the book The Roses of No Man's Land by Lyn MacDonald).

Nicknames Royal Army Medical Corps RAMC

The Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) also has some nicknames. These include:

Rob All My Comrades

Run Away Matrons Coming

Royal Airborne Marine Commandos

Another nickname for the RAMC was a reverse of the name, CMAR, which translated as Can't Manager A Rifle!

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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