Most of the heroes in any conflict remain unknown, their stories rarely told and rarely recorded. But when the guns fall silent and they return to civilian life, their experiences affect everyone around them. Military nurses are no exception. The battlefields of Basra may seem a long way from the backstreets of Bradford, yet war has improved our understanding of physiology and psychology, helped forge many of nursing's core skills and treatments, and contributed to numerous nursing traditions. Even today, the experiences of your military colleagues – who increasingly work alongside the NHS – raise fundamental questions about nursing culture, leadership and practice.
Mary Mackie's Wards in the Sky – now in a new edition – tells the story of the Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service (PMRAFNS also called the PMs). Despite being involved in two World Wars, Korea, the Falklands, both Gulf Wars, Afghanistan and many other conflicts, the PMRAFNS receive scant attention from military historians.