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BMH King Edward VII Military Hospital Port Stanley Falkland Islands
The history of the BMH King Edward VII Military Hospital at Port Stanley Falkland Islands
The British governed Falkland Islands were invaded by the Argentinian Army on 2 April 1982. The Royal Marines defending the area were forced to surrender and Britain sent a Task Force to recapture the area. The fighting in the South Atlantic, in air and land was fierce with many fatalities and casualties on both sides. Three Falkland Islanders, 655 Argentine and 255 British servicemen lost their lives. Many of our casualties were evacuated to QEMH Woolwich. The area was retaken on the 14 June when the Argentines surrendered.
The first female service personnel to be sent to the Falkland Islands were the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps on the 19 June 1982. They were deployed with 2 Field Hospital, Aldershot, and 1000 troops, aboard the Turbine Electric Vessel (TEV) Rangatira. The 14 QAs were led by their Matron Major Margaret Nesbitt (cited in the book, along with a photo, Sub Cruce Candida: A Celebration of One Hundred Years of Army Nursing).
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They arrived at Port Stanley on the 11 July and for probably the first time since WWII QAs had to descend from a ship using a rope ladder. They were then taken by boat to the jetty. War torn scenes awaited them for the Argentinian army had devastated the area by killing livestock for food and finding any sources of wood for their fires. There was also bomb damage to buildings. The hospital building still had its corrugated iron roof hastily painted with a red cross during the conflict and the windows were still taped to prevent glass shattering during any blasts.
Initial British Army casualties after the war included accidents and injuries from mines and booby traps laid by the Argentinians.
Within weeks an operating theatre was established and for the first time emergency operations were performed for the locals on the Island. Previously they had to be airlifted to Buenos Aires in Argentina.
After their posting dates were completed these initial army nurses had an “easier” journey home – a flight by Hercules to the Ascension Island and then a flight on a VC10 aeroplane to RAF Brize Norton.
King Edward VII Military Hospital, Port Stanley, was established after the Falklands War in 1983 (cited in the book Sub Cruce Candida: A Celebration of One Hundred Years of Army Nursing). The British Military Hospital was located within the existing King Edward Memorial Hospital.
There is also a photo of the staff of the British Station Hospital, Falklands Island, in the book Sub Cruce Candida: A Celebration of One Hundred Years of Army Nursing).
BMH Falklands is now the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH) in Stanley.
If you would like to contribute any info, photographs or share your memories then please contact me.
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I was one of your “customers” in 1986 during my third tour of duty in The Falkland Islands and would like to send a very belated thank you to the nursing staff who cared for me at that time so far from home when helpless and feeling very vulnerable. I was admitted in the BMH then casevaced back to Royal Air Force Hospital Wegberg in West Germany via RAFH Wroughton by the Aeromed teams.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to thank the nurses at the time, so better late than never Thank you for all everyone did for me. My memory of my few days on the ward were on admission. I was a Cpl serving with 16 Sqn RAF Regt and an hour after being settled into bed dozing after a very bumpy ride in a Land Rover ambulance from RAF Mount Pleasant, I felt a tap on the end of the bed by a Major accompanied by the Sister confirmed my identify. They then told me a congratulations message from my CO “you are to be promoted to Sgt”, to which I laughed and went back to sleep!
A couple of hours later on waking I wondered if I had dreamed that event until the soldier in the bed opposite gave me the thumbs up and said nice one Sarge. My bubble was quickly burst though when the Colonel Doctor on his rounds at tea time told me I was no longer fit for service and would be medically discharged on return to UK.
Fortunately for me when the RAF medics got me back into their care in Germany I was rehabilitated then promoted and served for a further 10 years.
Thank you all QARANC who cared for me, you were all very kind and you all still do a fantastic job especially these days with some of the injuries you have to deal with. Steve Bentham-Bates
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