In 1992 there was a restructure of army medical services in the British Army and male nurses were transferred from the Royal Army Medical Corps to the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps. Male nurses are still relatively uncommon, but are a growing part of the corps and they have certain items of specialist clothing for their work. Tonight we are looking at a man’s nursing jacket from the QARANC:This is a white cotton tunic, secured up one side and to the neck with removable white plastic buttons:These buttons are secured in with small split rings to allow them to be removed easily for washing. The design of the button itself is very similar to those used on World War 2 era denim uniforms, again these were designed to be easily removable for laundering. The back of the jacket has a sewn in half belt to provide a more structured fit:A single patch pocket is sewn on the breast and on this is affixed an embroidered patch showing the Corps’ cap badge in red on a grey field:The only other insignia on the jacket is a red on grey patch with a lance corporal’s stripe on it on one sleeve, this indicates a healthcare assistant- all qualified nurses are ranked at least a full corporal:Inside the tunic is a label indicating size and NSN number with a space for the owner to write his name and number:In recent years the QARANC has been involved in every conflict the British Army has fought in, offering vital medical support to Britain, her military allies and civilians in theatre. The British Legion’s website gives us one case study of a QARANC nurse, Ben Poku:
After signing up, Ben did three months of basic training which came as a shock. It was unlike anything Ben had experienced before.
“It’s tough, but it prepares you so that you’re ready when you go to a new or hostile environment.”
It was when Ben started passing the basic infantry tactics that he knew he was ready to become a soldier. Though he’d joined up to be a nurse, Ben found himself in the artillery doing an infantry role before he knew it.
But the desire to help those in need hadn’t gone away though. After three years in the artillery, Ben took the chance to pursue his dream of becoming a nurse. So in 2003, whilst Ben was training on artillery guns in Germany, he started the process of transferring over to the prestigious Queen Alexandra Royal Army Nursing Corps. As the nursing branch of the British Army, QARANC can trace its origins back to Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.
Ben went ahead to study at the Defence School of Healthcare Studies, getting his nursing degree while he was also being deployed in Iraq. While there he treated multi-nationals, such as Iraqis and Americans, as well as British troops.
“It was a challenge to go over there in a nursing role and apply the training I was doing, but it was a great introduction into becoming a nurse.”
Ben’s childhood dream has come true. He’s been a nurse for over a decade. In that time he’s worked abroad as well as around the UK.