The daughter of a captain in the Indian army, Barbara Cozens was born in Darjeeling and sent to a boarding school in Worthing. She then trained as a nurse at the Victoria Hospital for Children, Chelsea, and St Thomas' Hospital, London.
In 1933, when her training at St Thomas' was almost complete, it was suggested she consider a career in the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (founded by Queen Alexandra in 1902), an idea which appealed because of the possibilities for travel. On joining she was posted to the Cambridge Military Hospital, Aldershot, and then to India, where she nursed military families as well as serving soldiers, in accordance with the expanded duties of the post-First-World-War military nurse. She was abroad for five years in India, Palestine and Egypt, and returned to England to become a theatre sister. During the Second World War she served with distinction at home and overseas.
After the war, the QAIMNS was renamed Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps and became a part of the British army. Cozens became Commandant of the Army Nursing Corps Training Centre, Aldershot, in 1955, then Assistant Director of Army Nursing Services Eastern Command in 1958 and Matron-in- Chief and Director of Army Nursing Services in 1960. As such she started a scheme to train State Enrolled Nurses, and welcomed the first Gurkha trainees. She was created DBE in 1963 and left the Army the following year.
She was appointed Colonel Commandant Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps from 1966 to 1969 and Chief Nursing Officer to the St John Ambulance Brigade from 1965 to 1966.
She spent her retirement in Canterbury with her sister, enjoying gardening and golf. She kept up her links with the Corps through the QARANC Association, becoming a much-loved Chairman of the Kent Branch of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps Association, retaining her interest until her death.
Florence Barbara Cozens, nurse: born Darjeeling, India 24 December 1906; Matron-in-Chief and Director of Army Nursing Services 1960-64; died Canterbury 18 July 1995.