Tuesday, 30 November 2010


The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (Princess Royal's Volunteer Corps) is an organisation that has changed much in its hundred and three year long history. 

Initially raised as a women's only auxiliary during the expansion of the Territorial Army before the First World.  The website  www.fany.org.uk/ gives more history of the Corps and describes its current role.  Our links with it are through one of our sponsored units 71 Yeomanry Signal Regiment.  More details of the regiment, courtesy of that great institution the Army Rumour Service, are included at http://www.arrse.co.uk/wiki/71_(Yeomanry)_Signal_Regiment_(V

During World War Two it carried out a variety of roles, one of them being a source of volunteers for the Special Operations Executive.  One of Rosemary's aunts was in the FANY and worked as a radio operator in Trincomanlee, Ceylon communicating daily with an individual - she was never allowed to know names or locations - somewhere behind Japanese lines in South East Asia.  The reason for this one-to-one relationship is that users of morse code each has a distinctive 'voice' that is impossible to replicate.  This made it effectively impossible for anyone trying to try and impersonate either the agent or operator.

Despite the anonymity and the total professionalism of the organisation she says that when an agent failed to report in and was presumed captured or killed absolute despondency reigned.  On the brighter side human nature being what it is agent and operator did on occasion meet up and lived happily ever after.

Today it has a role to support Civil and Military authorities within the United Kingdom during any major event, incident, or in planning, so as to protect life and relieve human suffering.

The reception on Wednesday 24 November was to mark the move of the FANY Headquarters from Horseferry Road, where it has been based at the former London Scottish drill hall to a new site at Rochester Row.

HRH the Princess Royal is Commandant-in-Chief of the corps attended and, with a dexterity that always impresses me, managed to talk to all the two hundred or so guests invited, plus members of the Corps.

The FANY is an enthusiastic and public-spirited team.  They put a great deal into what they do and, despite the present changes taking place in Defence and government generally, are clearly strongly supported.

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