Category Archives: General Military History

Army Women 100

Dedicated to the women with whom I have had the privilege to serve, particularly those who have demonstrated their courage and endurance on operations in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Sierra Leone, and Iraq. This is my contribution to #ArmyWomen100.

In January 1917, Lieutenant General Henry Lawson[1] submitted a report that recommended the recruitment of women to fill administrative jobs in France, releasing men for employment farther forward.[2] The Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps was formally instituted by Army Council Instruction No. 1069 on 7 July 1917.[3] The WAAC became Queen Mary’s Auxiliary Army Corps on 9 April 1918. At the end of the war its personnel were demobilised and the Corps was finally disbanded on 30 April 1920, although a small detachment remained attached to the Graves Registrations Commission in France until September 1921.[4]

On 25 March 1916, the Military Medal had been instituted for non-commissioned officers and men of the Army for ‘acts of bravery’.[5] Three months later, in a supplementary Royal Warrant of 21 June, the award was extended to women (British and foreign) for ‘bravery and devotion under fire’.[6] The first awards soon followed—to Lady Dorothie Feilding for her gallantry as an ambulance driver in Belgium (she had previously been awarded the French Croix de Guerre and would later be awarded the Belgian Ordre de Léopold II for her services) and to five nurses for their gallantry during the bombing of 33rd Casualty Clearing Station at Bethune, France on 7 August 1916.[7] Continue reading

The Royal Reserve Regiments and The Royal Garrison Regiment

In researching the essay about my great-great-uncle Moses Neill, I came across reference to the Royal Garrison Regiment, into which he enlisted in 1902. A search for information about the Regiment revealed little and the information that was easily found has proven to be wrong or inaccurate. A number of sources conflate the Royal Garrison Regiment with the earlier Royal Reserve Regiments; while it is true that the men of the latter were recruited for the former, these two organisations were raised at different times and for very different purposes. In the sections below, hyperlinks will lead to a transcription or copy of the relevant Royal Warrant or Army Order.

The Royal Reserve Regiments

Officers of the Royal Irish Fusiliers Reserve Regiment, 1900

Officers of the Royal Irish Fusiliers Reserve Regiment, 1900

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Evacuation from Sierra Leone

Evacuation - My 'bubble'

Evacuation – My ‘bubble’

The Ebola epidemic in west Africa is the largest outbreak of the disease since its identification in 1976. The region is also afflicted with other viral hemorrhagic diseases, most of which will lead to death if untreated. One of these is Lassa fever, first ‘discovered’ in the town of Lassa, Nigeria in 1969.

In 2000, while serving with the British Army in Sierra Leone, I succumbed to malaria. During my stay in the Indian Army hospital supporting the United Nations force I developed an unusual fever and throat infection, which the doctor looking after me diagnosed as the early stages of Lassa fever. Continue reading