Doris Beale

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Doris Beale
Born 9 August 1889
Forest Hill, London, England
Died 14 January 1971 (aged 81)
London, England
Occupation British nurse; Matron-in-Chief of Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service (QARNNS) during WWII

Dame Doris Winifred Beale, DBE, RRC & Bar (9 August 1889 – 14 January 1971) was an English nurse, and Matron-in-Chief of Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service (QARNNS) for three years during the Second World War. In the King's birthday honours list 1944 she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE), a first in the Royal Naval Nursing Service.

Early life (to 1923)[edit]

She was born in Forest Hill, London to George Beale (13 February 1855 – 9 June 1923) and his wife, Annie Maria (née King) Beale (11 September 1858 – 12 August 1949). She was educated at Lewisham Prendergast School and later received as a probationer at London Hospital Training School for Nurses in 1912, where she completed her two years probation, achieving a "very satisfactory" examination result in October 1914. After two years further training, she joined QARNNS in 1917. She served at Royal Naval Hospitals in Plymouth and Portsmouth, before spending three years at the Royal Naval Hospital Gibraltar. During this time she was admitted as a member of the College of Nursing, becoming a registered nurse in 1923.[citation needed]

Later life[edit]

She then had two spells nursing at RNH Chatham (1923–25 and 1927–30), either side of two years at RNH Bighi in Malta. Between December 1930 and August 1933 she was in charge of the Cadet Sick Quarters at Dartmouth, before becoming Superintending Sister at RNH Chatham.[citation needed]


On 24 February 1937 she was presented with the Associate Royal Red Cross at Buckingham Palace. The following month she was promoted to the position of Matron at RNH Haslar, Portsmouth, and a year later she moved to RNH Stonehouse, Plymouth, where she stayed during the Blitz.[citation needed]

In July 1941 she was again promoted, to Matron-in-chief of QARNNS. On 23 September 1941 she was upgraded to the Royal Red Cross (RRC). In 1943 she became an Officer (Sister) of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, before receiving a Bar to her RRC in January the following year. She was made a Dame on 8 June 1944,[1] and then retired. After retirement she became Deputy Matron-in-Chief of the Joint War Organisation of the Red Cross and St. John.

She received her British Red Cross Society (BRCS) Distinguished War Service Certificate from HM The Queen in 1946. In 1951, she was awarded the Florence Nightingale Medal and Certificate by the International Red Cross Committee, presented to her by HRH The Duke of Gloucester. In 1969 she became a Vice-President of the Hostel for Disabled Women Workers. She was then made the first President of the QARNNS Association in 1970.

Travel to the Middle East[edit]

Between October and November 1949, she travelled to the BRCS Commission, Jordan, to see the relief work being carried out by British nurses in the area. During this time, she also visited Israel, Syria and the Lebanon. After the visit, she produced a report for the BRCS, giving her findings and outlining her recommendations for future action.In conclusion, she stated:

I should like to place on record my deep appreciation of the kindness shown to me by all members of the Commission and to express my opinion that the splendid work which is being done for refugees by the BRCS Commission cannot fail to raise the standard of British prestige in the Hashemite Kingdom of the Jordan.


External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
A. Ralph
Matron-in-Chief Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service
Succeeded by
Matilda Goodrich