International Nurses Day: RAF Nurses On The Front Line From Wartime Service To The Coronavirus Pandemic

Today on International Nurses Day, we thank our RAF nurses past and present for their dedication to service, including those working on the Coronavirus front line.

Currently, around 350 RAF nurses are working alongside their NHS counterparts, deployed to hospitals across the nation. They bring with them unrivalled experience in working under pressure in an operational environment.


Sergeant Hall, 34, of the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service (PMRAFNS), was one of ten Critical Care Teams sent to support the London Ambulance Service with transfers of Coronavirus patients.

Sergeant Jenny Hall

She was assigned to an ambulance to transfer COVID-19 patients to the NHS Nightingale Hospital London.

“It was a great opportunity to work with the London Ambulance Service. It started with a steep learning curve, using different equipment, but certainly a worthwhile experience.”

Sergeant Jenny Hall working with COVID-19

Now the situation in the capital has stabilised, she has returned to her 12-hour shifts in A&E at the Royal Stoke University Hospital, Staffordshire. Since her return she has noticed the drop-off in suspected COVID-19 cases as the lockdown has an impact on people’s behaviour.

 “There has also been a dramatic fall in the numbers of non-COVID cases coming into A&E as people stayed at home. Thankfully, those people with other ailments who need to be seen are starting to come in as the message gets through that we are here for them.”

Sergeant Jenny Hall

Having worked over the Bank Holiday weekend, Sgt Hall is having a well-deserved day off for International Nurses Day where she is relaxing with a home Crossfit workout and a G&T.

Sgt Hall has previously served at Bastion Role 3 hospital in Afghanistan, and on a Medical Emergency Response Team in Kenya. She works in A&E at the Royal Stoke University Hospital, Staffordshire, where she is on detachment from the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine.


99-year-old Mary Bowen-Bravery served in the PMRAFNS during the Second World War.

Mary Bowen-Bravery

Mary first trained at Leeds General Infirmary then went to North Middlesex hospital, where V1 and V2 raids were common. That experience of ‘the full force’ of WW2, followed by the death of her cousin Peter in a Pathfinder squadron, made her join PMRAFNS ‘to do her bit’.  

“A bomb hit our operating theatre and destroyed it,” said Mary, of Hythe, Kent. “That and the death of my cousin with the RAF made me feel as though I should do something for the war effort.”

She recalled treating wounded German prisoners of war and being stationed at Ely, Cambridgeshire, and listening to the roar of RAF bombers heading out to raid German-occupied Europe.

“I’d like to thank and send my best wishes to all of the Princess Mary’s nurses out there, helping with the COVID-19 crisis. Well done to them all.”

Mary Bowen-Bravery

Mary Bowen-Bravery during WW2

Towards the end of the war in Europe she was posted to India where she met her future husband – Lancaster pilot Squadron Leader Kenyon Bowen-Bravery DFC, Croix de Guerre – and was there during its Partition in 1947 when herself and other nurses were flown out of riot-torn Karachi. After leaving the RAF she returned to civilian life as a Sister at Leeds General Infirmary.

Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service

Group Captain Fin Bradley, Matron in Chief PMRAFNS, said:

“Today, nursing across the world could not be more important. RAF nurses are trained to give care where others cannot go, always ready to step into harm’s way to treat patients and to preserve life.

“RAF nurses are proud of a reputation that has been hard-earned by those like Mary Bowen-Bravery, whose dedication gives our nurses the courage and confidence to step-up to their duty without hesitation. I am most grateful for Mary’s service, and for her continued support today.”

Source: RAF

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