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THE FIRST AID NURSING YEOMANRY (PRINCESS ROYAL'S VOLUNTEER CORPS) (PRVC)

Foreword:

The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (Princess Royal's Volunteer Corps) (FANY) provides support to Civil and Military authorities within London during a major event, incident, or in planning and exercise roles, so as to protect life and relieve human suffering. The FANY is a voluntary association of approximately 130 active members who are all on 24/7 standby in the event of a call-out in support of a number of London based organisations, including the City of London and Metropolitan Police. In addition, the Corps has 300 country members and veterans. Members come from all walks of life, although they tend to be professional women with a wide variety of careers such as; teachers, lawyers, management consultants, public relations executives, marketing executives and Government advisors. They have one thing in common – they all want to support the authorities in times of crisis, learn new skills, and strengthen our civic society. The motto of the FANY (PRVC) is Arduis Invicta (In difficulties unconquered) or, more simply, ‘I cope'.

Rank Structure:

Commandant (Brigadier) – Commanding Officer

Deputy Commandant (Colonel) – 2IC

Staff Commander (Lieutenant Colonel)

Commander (Major)

Captain – Adjutant

Lieutenant – Regimental Officer

Second Lieutenant – Section Heads

Ensign – Deputy Section Heads

Structure of the FANY organisation:

The FANY (PRVC) adheres to a distinct Chain of Command. The Corps members are divided into sections – four active sections undertaking all roles and one section where members are dedicated to supporting the City of London Police's Casualty Bureau. Each section is managed by a Section Head, reporting to the Regimental Officer, who sits on the Regimental Board. The Regimental Board is formed of key positions within the organisation including: Deputy Commandant, Training Officer, Operations Officer, Finance Officer, Quartermaster and Adjutant. The Regimental Board is directed by the Commanding Officer who, in turn, reports to a Board of Trustees. There is also an Advisory Council that the Commanding Officer can call upon for advice. As a Charity (Registered Charity Number 249360), the FANY (PRVC) must abide by the Charity Commission's regulations.

Key dates:
1907-1914 From foundation in 1907 to the outbreak of WW1 the FANY, a mounted unit raised to assist with the retrieval of casualties from the field of battle, received assistance from the Household Brigade with the supply of horses and with equitation schooling. Drill Instructors were provided by the Foot Guards.

1914-1919 The FANY, now with nursing and driving skills, saw service from October 1914 to 1919. They provided casualty convoy drivers and undertook other duties related to the wounded of British, Belgian and French forces and, post-Armistice, wounded German forces. Their service was recognised by the award of 17 Military Medals, 18 Mentioned in Dispatches, 2 OBE and 3 MBE; 2 Order of the Crown (Chevalier), 7 Order of Leopold (Chevalier), 7 Decoration Civique, 1 Yser Medal and 38 Medaille de la Reine Elizabeth; 1 Legion d'Honneur (Chevalier) and 31 Croix de Guerre (1 with Palm Leaf: 16 with Bronze Star: 10 with Silver Star: four without additions).

1919-1926 Although the FANY continued to train in readiness to provide support in time of emergency, it was several years before they achieved official recognition. However, the War Office continued to provide Army accommodation and training assistance for Annual Camps.

1926-1930 During the General Strike the FANY Corps provided transport and drivers to take War Office staff to and from their homes. The success of this commitment, together with a wish ‘to place its services permanently at the disposal of the War Office for transport duties in case of national emergency at home or overseas', led to an announcement in Army Orders, and inclusion of the FANY Corps in the monthly Army List. The Corps title was revised, and for a time the Corps was renamed Ambulance Car Corps (FANY).

1930-1939 In 1933, HRH The Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, became President of the Corps. Before the funeral of King George V in 1936, London Section offered their services as Staff Car drivers/message carriers to CO RASC Kensington Barracks. In 1937, the Corps changed its title to Women's Transport Service (FANY).

1939-1945 Orders were received from the War Office on 18th May 1939 that from this date the Motor Driver Companies (Army) will be regarded as a distinct and separate unit of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). The finance of the MDCs (Army) will be exactly the same as previously, and will be administered by the Territorial Army Association of the County. Chief Commandant Baxter Ellis WTS (FANY) was appointed Unit Commander. The Motor Companies: a mixture of ATS and Women's Transport Service (WTS) (FANY) served throughout the War with the Royal Army Service Corps, REME, and other Corps and Units. The members of FANY who remained independent of the ATS were formed into Corps Units run from FANY Headquarters, working with the British Red Cross Society as Ambulance Drivers and with the Polish Forces as ambulance drivers and in welfare roles. One FANY Unit was in France with the British Expeditionary Force, returning via St Malo during the Dunkirk withdrawal.

The largest Corps Unit, ‘Special Unit', worked as Wireless Transmission (W/T) operators, coders, conducting officers, secretaries and in other signals roles with Special Operations Executive (SOE) in the UK and later in North Africa, Italy, India, Ceylon and the Far East. Of approximately 2,000 members of FANY SOE, more than 50 were trained as agents to infiltrate occupied Europe; 13 were killed in Concentration Camps. Gallantry awards included three George Crosses and two George Medals, as well as a King's Medal for Courage in the Cause of Freedom, a King's Commendation for Brave Conduct, 2 Commendations for Good Service and 36 Mentioned in Dispatches. Also, 1 CBE, 6 OBE, 23 MBE and 10 BEM (British Empire medals) were awarded to Corps members. There were numerous foreign decorations too: 1 Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, 6 Croix de Guerre, 2 Medaille de la Reconnaisance, 1 Norwegian Liberty Medal, 1 US Bronze Star and 1 US Medal of Freedom with Bronze Palm. Many of those in command of both parts of the Corps received decorations for their efforts.

1945-1960 In December 1945, WTS (FANY) HQ moved to 55 Sloane Street, SW3 which was both office and residential club. On 8th June 1946, 30 FANYs took part in the Victory Parade. The Cold War influenced the training schedules with Civil Defence a priority. In 1957, the Corps celebrated the 50th Anniversary of its formation and Commandant MacLellan was awarded the OBE.

1960-1970 In 1960, there was a significant restructure of the training organisation with the co-operation of the Royal Corps of Signals. Weekend Signals training was introduced, in addition to the Annual Camp.

With the formation of a new Section (No. 1 Independent Section), a younger intake was recruited which trained regularly with the SAS until May 1962 and began W/T training at Worship Street, and shooting on the Indoor Range at White City Barracks. Signals training was ongoing in London Section, with two FANYs qualifying as Cypher Instructors. Corps Commander MacLellan retired in February 1965 having appointed her successor, Sheila Parkinson (Parkinson had joined the Kenya FANYs in 1937). The following year, the new CO was faced with finding a new headquarters building. 21 SAS (TA) offered house-room at The Duke of York's Headquarters until accommodation was found. In 1968, the FANY Mobile Communications Unit (MCU) was formed to provide assistance to the Metropolitan Police in support of disasters within the London area. In 1969, a recruiting advertisement was placed in the broadsheets advertising training for the new role in a Metropolitan or National emergency. The Language Unit was formed to bring together as many linguists as possible to provide individuals, or teams, to interpret at international events.

1970-1980 By the early 1970s, the Language Group provided proficiency in 12 languages and had a busy schedule. The FANY were asked to provide a mobile Radio Telephone (RT) communications team to work with the Provost Section responsible for marshalling a major parade of 800 men and 200 vehicles in Hyde Park as part of the TAVR recruitment drive. Training for 16 recruits to join the Mobile Communications Unit (MCU) began in November, followed by lectures in First Aid and a visit to Scotland Yard's Information Room. The experienced RT teams carried out an extensive exercise ‘RIVERLINE' testing communications near the Thames and other waterways. In 1975, the Corps provided roundthe-clock support in the aftermath of the Moorgate train disaster (see the City RFCA).

1980-1990 FANY Commandant-in-Chief, HRH The Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, died in the Spring of 1981 and was succeeded by HRH The Princess Royal. In 1982, the Army Board agreed that the FANYs could train to operate in Army Communication Centres (ACCs) during times of tension or national emergency and training started the following year.

Quotation from CO Parkinson's letter of January 1984 (Gazette Vol.24 No.24): "This letter brings a very important piece of news for the future of the Corps. We moved to the Duke of York's HQ in 1968 on a grace and favour basis, and during the ensuing 15 years there have been times when our tenancy was in jeopardy. So it is with relief and pride that I am able to tell you that our commitment to augment Army Communication Centres in a National emergency gives us security of tenure at this HQ. In addition we have been invited to join the TAVR Association for Greater London as a co-opted member."

1990-2000 The following year, the Cannon Street Train Crash saw FANY teams called out by City of London Police. Days later, outbreak of War in the Gulf and involvement of the FANY in OPERATION GRANBY; MOD asked for, and received, FANY volunteers to augment Regular Army personnel at the PS4(A) Casualty Section at Empress State Building (ESB), and at Chatham COMCEN, on a 24hr basis. The Year of the Yeomanry (1994) saw a FANY marching contingent, plus a FANY rider in 1907 uniform, in the Review of the Yeomanry by HM The Queen in Windsor Great Park on 17th April, which was also the Bicentenary of the raising of the first Yeomanry Regiments. The 50th anniversary of OPERATION OVERLORD was commemorated, with a particular focus on the sacrifice of FANY SOE agents.

In 1996, FANYs began training for a new commitment with 2 (National Communications) Signal Brigade and in the following year, Commandant Whitehead was awarded the OBE (Civil Division) in the New Year Honours. The Corps changed its title in 1999 from WTS (FANY) to FANY (Princess Royal's Volunteer Corps) , abbreviation ‘FANY (PRVC)'.

2000-2010 In 2000, the Corps saw another temporary move within the Duke of York's but in 2003 The London Scottish made room at their Horseferry Road building. Training continued with the Army Casualty Cell, and with the developing role for London Resilience through the Civil Contingency Reaction Force (CCRF). In 2005, members gave nearly 800 volunteer hours in support of the 7/7 London Bombings.

2010-2014 The Corps relocated again in 2010, to Rochester Row, Victoria, SW1. The following year, the Corps supported seven organisations during the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, providing 2,351 volunteer hours with 92% of Corps members undertaking one or more roles.

In 2013, roles currently undertaken by FANY members are divided into four areas: resilience/ emergency response which incorporates the assistance given in times of crisis or for major planned events to organisations such as the Police, the City of London Corporation, London Coroners and the Cabinet Office; military support to the Ministry of Defence and 11 Signal Brigade; police support to the Metropolitan Police's International Liaison Unit (during the Olympic Games) and to Gloucestershire Police for the Royal International Air Tattoo; and training support as character players for both military and police, as first aid instructors for the City Corporation and charities (as well as other Corps members) and as additional assistance to the Army Cadet Force for exercises and annual camp. Many of these tasks which originated in support of the Olympic Games have evolved into enduring roles.

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