Royal Army Medical Corps

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Royal Army Medical Corps
Cap Badge of the Royal Army Medical Corps
Active 1898–present
Branch  British Army
Role Medical support
Part of Army Medical Services
Nickname(s) The Linseed Lancers
Motto In Arduis Fidelis
(Faithful in Adversity)
March Quick: Here's a Health unto His Majesty (arr. A.J. Thornburrow)
Slow: Her Bright Smile haunts me still (J Campbell arr. Brown)
Anniversaries Corps Day (23 June)
Colonel-in-Chief HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG, GCVO
Tactical Recognition Flash 100px

The Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) is a specialist corps in the British Army which provides medical services to all British Army personnel and their families in war and in peace. Together with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, the Royal Army Dental Corps and Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps, the RAMC forms the British Army's essential Army Medical Services.

The RAMC does not carry a Regimental Colour or Queen's Colour, although it has a Regimental Flag, nor does it have battle honours, as elements of the corps have been present in almost every single war the army has fought. Because it is not a fighting arm (non-combatant), under the Geneva Conventions, members of the RAMC may only use their weapons for self-defence. For this reason, there are two traditions that the RAMC perform when on parade:

  • Officers do not draw their swords – instead they hold their scabbard with their left hand while saluting with their right.
  • Other Ranks do not fix bayonets.

Unlike medical officers in some other countries, medical officers in the RAMC (and the Navy and Air Force) do not use the "Dr" prefix, in parentheses or otherwise, but only their rank, although they may be addressed informally as "Doctor". They also do not prefix "Surgeon" in front of their ranks like medical officers of the Royal Navy (although they did until the end of the 19th century).


The RAMC, like every other British regiment, has its own distinctive unit insignia.

  • Dark blue beret, the default Army colour worn by units without distinctive coloured berets. The exceptions are members of 16 Medical Regiment, who wear the maroon beret, 225 Scottish General Support Medical Regiment (previously Field Ambulance) and members of 205 (Scottish) Field Hospital, who wear the traditional Scottish Tam o' Shanter headdress with Corps badge on tartan backing, and medical personnel attached to field units with distinctive coloured berets, who usually wear the beret of that unit (e.g. maroon for The Parachute Regiment and sky blue for the Army Air Corps).
  • Cap badge depicting the Rod of Asclepius, surmounted by a crown, enclosed within a laurel wreath, with the regimental motto In Arduis Fidelis, translated as "Faithful in Adversity" in a scroll beneath. The cap badge is worn 1 inch above the left eye on the beret. The cap badge of the other ranks must also be backed by an oval patch of dull cherry-red coloured cloth measuring 3.81 cm (1.5 Inches) wide and 6.35 cm (2.5 Inches) high sewn directly to the beret. Officers do not use the backing, but have a sewn-on cloth cap badge instead.
  • Silver regimental collar badges (collar 'dogs'), a miniature of the cap badge. Worn with the serpents heads facing inwards.
  • Stable belt comprising equal horizontal bands of (from top to bottom) dull cherry, royal blue, and old gold, reflecting the old uniform worn in the 1900s (dull cherry and royal blue), the gold depicting the royal in the title.

Some units wear a brigade stable belt, for example members of 16 Medical Regiment wear a maroon stable belt with two horizontal sky blue lines, the buckle has the brigade eagle on it as opposed to the RAMC badge. This unit was formed in 1999 by the amalgamation of 23 Parachute Field Ambulance, whose stable belt they continue to wear, and 19th (Airmobile) Field Ambulance, who previously wore an all-black brigade stable belt.

  • Silver belt buckle with engraved regimental badge.


Army surgeons carry out an operation during the Second World War

Medical services in the British armed services go as far back as the formation of the Standing Regular Army after the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. This was the first time a career was provided for a Medical Officer (MO), known as the Regimental Surgeon, both in peacetime and in war. The Army was formed entirely on a regimental basis, and an MO with a Warrant Officer as his Assistant Surgeon was appointed to each regiment, which also provided a hospital. The MO was also for the first time concerned in the continuing health of his troops, and not limited to just battlefield medicine.

This regimental basis of appointment for MOs continued until 1873, when a co-ordinated army medical service was set up. To join, a doctor needed to be qualified and single and aged at least 21, and then undergo a further examination in physiology, surgery, medicine, zoology, botany and physical geography including meteorology, and also to satisfy various other requirements (including having dissected the whole body at least once and having attended 12 midwifery cases); the results were published in three classes by an Army Medical School, which was set up in 1860 at Fort Pitt in Chatham,[1] and moved in 1863 to Netley outside Southampton.[2]

RAMC World War I memorial in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh

There was much unhappiness in the Army Medical Service in the following years. For medical officers did not actually have military rank but "advantages corresponding to relative military rank" (such as choice of quarters, rates of lodging money, servants, fuel and light, allowances on account of injuries received in action, and pensions and allowances to widows and families). They had inferior pay in India, excessive amounts of Indian and colonial service (being required to serve in India six years at a stretch), and less recognition in honours and awards. They did not have their own identity as did the Army Service Corps, whose officers did have military rank. A number of complaints were published, and the British Medical Journal campaigned loudly. For over two years after 27 July 1887 there were no recruits to the Army Medical Department. A parliamentary committee reported in 1890 highlighting the doctors' injustices. Yet all this was ignored by the Secretary of State for War. The British Medical Association, the Royal College of Physicians and others redoubled their protests.[3] Eventually, in 1898, officers and soldiers providing medical services were incorporated into a new body known by its present name, the Royal Army Medical Corps; its first Colonel-in-Chief was H.R.H the Duke of Connaught.

The RAMC began to develop during the Boer War, but it was during the First World War that it reached its apogee both in size and experience. The RAMC itself lost 743 officers and 6130 soldiers killed in the war. During Britain's colonial days the RAMC set up clinics and hospitals in countries where British troops could be found. Major-General Sir William Macpherson of the RAMC wrote the official Medical History of the War (HMSO 1922). Its main base was for long the Queen Alexandra Hospital Millbank (now closed).

Before the Second World War, RAMC recruits were required to be at least 5 feet 2 inches tall and could enlist up to 30 years of age. They initially enlisted for seven years with the colours and a further five years with the reserve, or three years and nine years. They trained for six months at the RAMC Depot, Crookham Camp, Aldershot, before proceeding to specialist trade training.[4]

Current facilities

The military medical services are now very much tri-service, with the hospital facilities of Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy combined. The main hospital facility is now the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, a joint military-National Health Service centre. The former Royal Naval Hospital Haslar in Gosport became the tri-service Royal Hospital Haslar, however it was decommissioned in March 2007. The majority of injured service personnel were treated in Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham prior to the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital's opening. Negative press coverage during the surge of UK military commitments in the years following the second invasion of Iraq[5] has largely given way to an appreciation that the care provided injured troops has significantly improved.[6][7]

Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, Friarage Hospital in Northallerton (near Catterick Garrison) and Frimley Park Hospital (near Aldershot) also have military hospital units attached to them but they do not treat operational casualties.


  • Royal Army Medical Corps
    • 1st Armoured Medical Regiment – Reaction Force
    • 2nd Medical Regiment – Adaptable Force
    • 250 Medical Squadron (AR) (Hull/Grimsby) – Area Medical Sqn for 2 Medical Regiment
    • 222 Medical Squadron (AR) (Liecester/Derby) – Area Medical Sqn for 2 Medical Regiment
    • 3rd Medical Regiment – Adaptable Force
    • 4th Armoured Medical Regiment – Reaction Force
    • 5th Armoured Medical Regiment – Reaction Force
    • 16th Medical Regiment – 16 Air Assault Brigade
      • 144 Parachute Medical Squadron
      • 64 (Chorley) Medical Squadron (As of April 2014 – previously under 5 Medical Regiment)
      • 251 (Sunderland) Medical Squadron (250 (Hull) Medical Squadron was replaced by 251 Med Sqn in late 2014).
    • 225th Medical Regiment
    • 253rd Medical Regiment
    • 254th Medical Regiment
    • 2nd Medical Brigade
      • 22 Field Hospital (includes 23 Field Ambulance)
      • 33 Field Hospital
      • 34 Field Hospital
      • 201 (Northern) Field Hospital
      • 202 (Midlands) Field Hospital – established as 202 (Midland) General Hospital RAMC(V) at Dawberry Fields Road, Birmingham, in 1967. Reroled as a field hospital under Options for Change. Detachments at Birmingham, Oxford, Shewsbury, and Stoke-on-Trent. Mobilised for Operation Telic in February 2003, with pre-deployment training taking place at York for other ranks and Nottingham for officers. Formed part of 102 Logistics Brigade. Initially established at Camp Coyote, Kuwait, in tentage already built by 33 Field Hospital.[8]
      • 203 (Welsh) Field Hospital
      • 204 (North Irish) Field Hospital
      • 205 (Scottish) Field Hospital
      • 207 (Manchester) Field Hospital
      • 208 (Liverpool) Field Hospital
      • 212 (Yorkshire) Field Hospital
      • 217 (London) Field Hospital
      • 243 (Wessex) Field Hospital
      • 256 (City of London) Field Hospital
      • 306 (Nationally Recruited) Hospital Support Regiment
      • 335 (Nationally Recruited) Medical Evacuation Squadron
      • Operational Headquarters Support Group


Order of precedence

Preceded by
Royal Logistic Corps
Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Corps of Royal Electrical
and Mechanical Engineers

Successive changes in title

  • Medical Staff Corps (1855–1857) (other ranks only)
  • Army Hospital Corps (1857–1884) (other ranks only)
  • Army Medical Department (1873–1898) (officers only)
  • Medical Staff Corps (1884–1898) (other ranks only)
  • Royal Army Medical Corps (1898–present)

Officer ranks

Before 1873 1873–1879 1879–1891 1891–1898[9] From 1898[10]
Inspector-General of Hospitals Surgeon-General Surgeon-General Surgeon-Major-General Surgeon-General
Deputy Inspector-General of Hospitals Deputy Surgeon-General Deputy Surgeon-General Surgeon-Colonel Colonel
Brigade Surgeon Brigade Surgeon-Lieutenant-Colonel Lieutenant-Colonel
Surgeon-Major Surgeon-Major Surgeon-Major Surgeon-Lieutenant-Colonel
Surgeon Surgeon-Major Major
Assistant Surgeon Surgeon Surgeon Surgeon-Captain Captain
Surgeon-Lieutenant Lieutenant

Services in Hong Kong

The Medical Corps provided non-emergency ambulatory assistance to the Hong Kong Fire Services prior to 1953.

Gallantry awards

Since the Victoria Cross was instituted in 1856 there have been 27 Victoria Crosses and two bars awarded to army medical personnel.[11] A bar, indicating a subsequent award of a second Victoria Cross, has only ever been awarded three times, two of them to medical officers. Twenty-three of these Victoria Crosses are on display in the Army Medical Services Museum. The corps also has one recipient of both the Victoria Cross and the Iron Cross.

One officer was awarded the George Cross in the Second World War. A young female member of the corps, Private Michelle Norris, became the first woman to be awarded the Military Cross following her actions in Iraq on 11 June 2006.[12]

One VC is in existence that is not counted in any official records. In 1856, Queen Victoria laid a Victoria Cross beneath the foundation stone of the Royal Victoria Military Hospital, Netley.[13] When the hospital was demolished in 1966, the VC, known as "The Netley VC", was retrieved and is now on display in the Army Medical Services Museum, Ash Vale, near Aldershot.[13]

Name Award Awarded while serving with Medal held by
Ackroyd, HaroldHarold Ackroyd VC Royal Army Medical Corps att'd The Royal Berkshire Regiment Lord Ashcroft Collection
Allen, WilliamWilliam Allen VC Royal Army Medical Corps att'd Royal Field Artillery Army Medical Services Museum
Babtie, WilliamWilliam Babtie VC Royal Army Medical Corps AMS Museum
Bradshaw, WilliamWilliam Bradshaw VC 90th Regiment (The Cameronians) AMS Museum
Chavasse, NoelNoel Chavasse VC
and Bar
Royal Army Medical Corps att'd The King's (Liverpool Regiment)
Bar: same
Imperial War Museum
Crean, ThomasThomas Crean VC 1st Imperial Light Horse (Natal) AMS Museum
Douglas, HenryHenry Douglas VC Royal Army Medical Corps AMS Museum
Farmer, JosephJoseph Farmer VC Army Hospital Corps AMS Museum
Fox-Russell, JohnJohn Fox-Russell VC Royal Army Medical Corps att'd The Royal Welch Fusiliers AMS Museum
Green, JohnJohn Green VC Royal Army Medical Corps att'd The Sherwood Foresters AMS Museum
Hale, ThomasThomas Hale VC 7th Regiment (The Royal Fusiliers) AMS Museum
Harden, HenryHenry Harden VC Royal Army Medical Corps att'd 45 Royal Marine Commando AMS Museum
Hartley, EdmundEdmund Hartley VC Cape Mounted Riflemen, SA Forces AMS Museum
Home, AnthonyAnthony Home VC 90th Perthshire Light Infantry AMS Museum
Inkson, EdgarEdgar Inkson VC Royal Army Medical Corps att'd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers AMS Museum
Jee, JosephJoseph Jee VC 78th Regiment (The Seaforth Highlanders) AMS Museum
Le Quesne, FerdinandFerdinand Le Quesne VC Medical staff Corps Jersey Museum
Lloyd, OwenOwen Lloyd VC Army Medical Department AMS Museum
Maling, GeorgeGeorge Maling VC Royal Army Medical Corps att'd The Rifle Brigade AMS Museum
Manley, WilliamWilliam Manley VC
Iron Cross
Royal Regiment of Artillery
Awarded Iron Cross 1870
Private Collection
Martin-Leake, ArthurArthur Martin-Leake VC
and Bar
VC: South African Constabulary
Bar: Royal Army Medical Corps
AMS Museum
McMaster, Valentine MunbeeValentine Munbee McMaster VC Royal Army Medical Corps
Winning his VC during the relief of Lucknow, while serving with the 78th Highlanders
Mouat, JamesJames Mouat VC 6th Dragoons (Inniskilling) AMS Museum
Nickerson, WilliamWilliam Nickerson VC Royal Army Medical Corps Privately held
Ranken, HarryHarry Ranken VC Royal Army Medical Corps att'd King's Royal Rifle Corps AMS Museum
Reynolds, JamesJames Reynolds VC Army Medical Department AMS Museum
Sinton, JohnJohn Sinton VC Indian Medical Service AMS Museum
Sylvester, WilliamWilliam Sylvester VC 23rd Regiment (The Royal Welch Fusiliers) AMS Museum

Although not serving with the RAMC, Irish born Surgeon John Crimmin VC, CB, CIE, VD is another military medic to win the country's highest award for gallantry. He won his medal in 1889 while serving with The Bombay Medical Service of The Indian Army in the Karen Ni Expedition. John Crimmin is buried in Wells, Somerset. Contrary to other sources the medal is not held by The Army Medical Services Museum.

Trades/careers in the 21st century

RAMC officer careers:

RAMC soldier trades:

Military abbreviations applicable to the Medical Corps

Within the military, Medical officers could occupy a number of roles that were dependent on experience, rank and location. Within military documentation numerous abbreviations were used to identify these roles of which the following are some of the most common:[14]

  • ADMS = Assistant Director Medical Services
  • DADMS = Deputy Assistant Director of Medical Services
  • DCA = Defence Consultant Advisor (the lead clinician for each specialty)
  • DDGMS = Deputy Director General Medical Services
  • DDMS = Deputy Director Medical Services
  • DG = Director General (Medical Services)
  • DGAMS = Director General Army Medical Services (HQ AMD, Camberley / HQ Land Forces, Andover)
  • DGMS = Director General Medical Services
  • DMS = Director Medical Services
  • EMO = Embarkation Medical Officer
  • GDMO = General Duties Medical Officer (a junior army doctor attached to a field unit before commencing higher specialist training)
  • MCD = Military Clinical Director (a senior army Consultant)
  • MSO = Medical Support Officer (a non-clinical military officer who hold command and staff positions)
  • MO = Medical Officer
  • OMO = Orderly Medical Officer
  • PMO = Principal Medical Officer
  • RMO = Regimental Medical Officer (normally an army General Practitioner with additional training in Pre-Hospital Emergency Care and Occupational Medicine)
  • SMO = Senior Medical Officer (normally a senior army General Practitioner)
  • CMT = Combat Medical Technician (an army medic). Not necessarily a paramedic. There are some (mostly special forces) CMTs who are paramedic-trained, but the term 'paramedic' is protected in law and can only be used by those who are fully qualified and state-registered with the HCPC.


Since 1903, the corps has published an academic journal titled the Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps (JRAMC). Its stated aim is to "publish high quality research, reviews and case reports, as well as other invited articles, which pertain to the practice of military medicine in its broadest sense".[15] Submissions are accepted from serving members of all ranks, as well as academics from outside the military. Currently published quarterly by BMJ on behalf of the RAMC Association, when it was initially established the journal was published on a monthly basis.[16][15]

Notable personnel

See also


  1. A E W Miles, The Accidental Birth of Military Medicine, Civic Books, London, 2009 ISBN 9781-904104-95-7, page 14
  2. London and Provincial Medical Directory, 1860, John Churchill, London; on the AMS see Hampshire and QARANC both accessed 29 November 2010
  3. Commissioned Officers of the Army Medical Service, W Johnston, Aberdeen UP 1917
  4. War Office, His Majesty's Army, 1938
  5. Muir, Hugh (12 March 2007). "Storm over injured troops' care fails to save military hospital". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. p. 8. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 23 March 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "House of Commons Defence Committee Report on the Medical Care of the Armed Forces". 5 February 2008. Retrieved 21 March 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Evans, Michael (7 March 2009). "Chain of care: from front line to Selly Oak Hospital". The Times. Times Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 21 March 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Beckett 2008 (Ref at Territorial Army) 253.
  9. The London Gazette: no. 26196. p. 4615. 28 August 1891.
  10. The London Gazette: no. 26988. p. 4355. 19 July 1898.
  11. "The Royal Army Medical Corps". Retrieved 30 June 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Glendinning, Lee (22 March 2007). "Historic award for female private". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. p. 8. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 March 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Netley Hospital information". QARANC – Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps. Retrieved 16 June 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Abbreviations Used in Original Documents". Scarlettfinders: British Military Nurses. Retrieved 12 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. 15.0 15.1 "About Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps". BMJ. Retrieved 12 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps: Archive of All Online Issues (July 1903 – Present)". BMJ. Retrieved 12 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Blair, J.S.G. Centenary History of the Royal Army Medical Corps, 1898–1998. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1998.
  • Brereton, F.S. The Great War and the RAMC. London: Constable, 1919.
  • Leneman, Leah. "Medical Women at War, 1914–1918." Medical History (1994) 38#2 pp: 160–177. online
  • Lovegrove, P. Not Least in the Crusade. A Short History of the RAMC. Gale and Polden, 1955.
  • Miles, A. E. W. The Accidental Birth of Military Medicine: The Origins of the Royal Army Medical Corps, Civic Books, 2009

Primary sources

  • Oram, A.R. An Army Doctor's Story: Memoirs of Brigadier A.R. Oram 1891–1966, published in paperback and on Kindle 2013

External links

Other Links