Friday, 4 November 2011

WO399 nurses' service records

The National Archives have today added the WO399 class of records to DocumentsOnline. The series comprises almost 16,000 service records of members of Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, the Reserve and the Territorial Force Nursing Service who served during the Great War. And it looks as though a pretty thorough job has been made of producing them for the online service. Over the years I've looked at many hundreds of these files in an effort to pick up all the tiny pieces of the organisation and administration of the military nursing services, and will be sad that it's no longer possible to actually handle the original paperwork. But that's progress I guess, and it will be a big boon for researchers and family members worldwide to have such easy access to these records.

About 22,000 nurses served as trained military nurses, so many of these women are missing from the series of files. Quite a few went on to serve during the Second World War, and their files are still held by the Ministry of Defence, and records of women who had died, or were over age for further service at the time of the 1930s weeding process were destroyed. But still a very good chance that records exist either in these WO399 files, or at MOD, for any individual woman. I'll find it strange not to order original files next time I'm at TNA, but certainly won't miss the long wait for delivery as they were trundled from their far-flung corner. Now, a couple of clicks and I'll be away.

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