Nicci Pugh is an experienced NHS and former military Operating Theatre Sister. In April 1982, whilst serving a short-service commission as a Senior Nursing Officer in Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service (QARNNS), Nicci was selected, along with thirty nine other female nursing colleagues, to serve on board Her Majesty’s Hospital Ship Uganda throughout the Falklands War, fought between Britain and Argentina in 1982. The QARNNS nursing teams on board Uganda were the only military females to serve in the Falklands War, and this was the first time in history that British female RN junior ratings had officially served at sea.
Here, in the notoriously windswept South Atlantic Ocean, the teams of Royal Naval medical personnel worked tirelessly aboard their floating hospital, to treat and care for seriously injured servicemen arriving by helicopter from battlefields and dressing stations ashore, as the battles progressed to re-take Port Stanley, the surrounding terrain and, eventually, all the Falkland Islands from their uninvited occupiers. The crucial role of all the military helicopters involved in the casualty evacuation process is clearly demonstrated throughout this fascinating Presentation.
In 2010, following the successful publication of her book White Ship – Red Crosses, Nicci created a series of accompanying Power Point Presentations, covering the many aspects of how the wider history of international hospital ships has developed over the centuries. The first half of this evening’s Presentation for BMMHS focuses on the conversion, role and work carried out on board the hospital ship Uganda during the Falklands War and is an inspiring and informative account of life and work on board a British floating hospital working in difficult, demanding & dangerous conditions.
The second half of this Talk relates to the work of the The South Atlantic Medal Association, the tri-service charity for veterans of The Falklands War www.sama82.org.uk
This section includes excellent and unusual shots of life in the Falkland Islands today, including some of the rare black-browed albatross nesting off the remote West Falkland Islands.
Nicci Pugh’s father was the late Captain C.R.V. (Dick) Pugh CBE RN, a Second World War Tiger Moth & Swordfish Fleet Air Arm pilot of some renown, who served in the Royal Navy from 1916 to 1950.
Speaking to us at BMMHS when we first made contact with her last year, Nicci said: “Like many of his generation, my father rarely mentioned his extraordinary RN and aviation career, but I felt it appropriate to include a reference for BMMHS members that, as far as we know, I was the only ‘RN officer daughter of an RN WW2 officer’ to serve in the Falklands War. As we approach the 100th anniversary year of the formation of the Fleet Air Arm in 2024, it’s worth reflecting how far military, and especially Royal Naval carrier-based aviation, has advanced since my father’s era of the formative Fleet Air Arm. Not only including the Falklands War, but now, with an eye to the future, commissioning the amazing state-of-the-art British aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth & HMS Prince of Wales.”
Nicci is also a keen offshore sailing lady and remains an active member of the Royal Naval Sailing Association. She kept her last boat, White Berry, on the River Thames, and in 2016 brought her upstream single-handedly from Walton-on-Thames to Bensons Marina just a few miles from Woodcote.