RAMC Evolution Timeline
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Medical support to Armies is as old as those Armies themselves but it seems sensible to start off the story of the evolution of the RAMC at the Restoration of Charles II and the establishment of Britain’s Standing Army. That wasn’t a blank canvas, of course, but it is a useful start line in that there was to be a clear stable organisation thereafter to give support to, it was about the time that wider medical science and medical careers started to develop, and the great expansion of the Army to build and sustain the Empire commenced. Running alongside all this is the relationship of medical with the chain of command, which is important on two grounds, non-combatant medical status on the one hand against advice to commanders who were, and still are, the determinants of the occupation, lifestyle and environment influences on the health of the Army on the other.

The timeline shows the progress of professional development, organisation and relationships, via 60 key occurences since the Restoration, which culminated in the formation of the RAMC in 1898 but, of course, has continued to evolve to the present day. It is the story of how, in a series of steps, the officers and soldiers of the RAMC have come together over the last 360 years. It tracks the relationship between Regular and Auxiliary Forces. Whether this has meant that we have progressed and advanced every 6 years over the era, one leaves the reader to make his or her own mind up as they scroll through the chronology.


Regimental Surgeons already established

Commissioned, one per regiment/battalion

Purveyors appointed to fixed hospitals

From within the Staff Surgeons (until 1798) alongside Hospital Mates and Physicians

Post of Apothecary General created

Apothecaries and Apothecaries Mates appointed to fixed hospitals from 1690

Army Medical Board (AMB) created

For governance of the medical services, stands down 1763, under Secretary at War

AMB reconvened

Composed of SG, Physician General & Inspector of Regimental Infirmaries

Surgeons’ Mates commissioned

As Assistant Surgeons

Hospital Mates commissioned

As Hospital Assistants, then Assistant Surgeons from 1830

Army Medical Department (AMD) first described

After the 5th Report Military Enquiry (into the Medical Department of the Army), by Parliament, infers AMD established in 1793 as the AMB supported by a permanent staff from then; term AMD fully established in 1810

Post of Director General (DG) created

With two Deputies; previous AMB membership, plus Apothecary General post, abolished

Hospital Conveyance Corps formed

Other ranks, subsumed into the Land Transport Corps in 1855

Medical Staff Corps (MSC) created

Other ranks, commanded by an Officer of Orderlies, organised into companies

Army Hospital Corps (AHC) formed from MSC

Other ranks, some Officers of Orderlies

AHC Reserve authorised

Changes in TOS, service split between Regular and residual Reserve service, further developed in 1877

Regimental Surgeons pass to AMD

Less Household Troops; regimental hospitals abolished

Apothecaries ceased

Existing ones transfer to AHC as Officers of Orderlies

Reserve of AMD officers established

Through earlier retirement and residual call up liability to age 55.

AHC reverts to MSC

Medical Officers of AMD grouped with QMs of the AHC

Volunteer MSC formed

Includes Medical Officers as well as Soldiers

Further AMS Reserve (of officers) formed

From Medical Officers of the Militia, Yeomanry and Volunteers

Hybrid rank introduced for Medical Officers

eg Surgeon Lieutenant Colonel

Militia MSC formed

Includes Medical Officers as well as Soldiers

Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) formed

From amalgamating the AMS with the MSC, proper military rank given to Medical Officers

Militia and Volunteer RAMC authorised

From Militia and Volunteer MSC

AMD moves under Adjutant General (AG)

Seat on Army Council lost, Department becomes a Directorate

Territorial Force (TF) formed

Incorporating Volunteer and Yeomanry RAMC plus Volunteer Brigade Bearer Companies

Militia becomes the Special Reserve

Reverts to Militia in 1921 and then on to Supplementary Reserve (SR) in 1924

First uniformed dental officers recruited

Dental officers leave to form an Army Dental Corps in 1921

SGs retitled Major General

The 3*s become Lieutenant General

Stretcher Bearer Officers established

Not medically qualified, becoming the Admin cadre - today’s Medical Support Officers (MSO)

TA becomes Territorial and Auxiliary Volunteer Reserve (TAVR)

Thus incorporating AER, TAVR reverts to TA again in 1982

RAMC Nurses commissionable

Remaining in role, some previously had been commissioned as MSOs

First direct entry MSO

Via RMA Sandhurst

DG becomes SG (an appointment again) in a new Defence Medical Services Directorate (DMSD)

Absorbs AMD; SG post to rotate between the Three Services thereafter

DG and AMD decoupled from DMSD

Return to under AG, DG as a 2*; SG and DMSD remain in the centre

RAMC Nurses transfer to QARANC

And QARANC Support Officers convert to RAMC as MSOs

Post of DG abolished

And AMD dismembered