Ranks: Abbreviations, Explanations & Order (several merged threads)

Discussion in 'Service Records' started by pjs, Sep 18, 2006.

  1. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Are you sure that the L doesn't actually mean Local in this context?


  2. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Nor forget that progress is not necessarily unidirectional - reversion being entirely feasible at any stage though for reasons which really ought to be explained somewhere in the record. I've seen several examples but couldn't cite any offhand bar this curiously-voluntary WW1 yoyo case in my family - entire (barebones) timeline for context:
    1915-12-15 - Enlisted as an RASC clerk (Paris)
    1916-05-22 - Army Medical (Devizes)
    1916-11-04 - Mobilised (Aldershot)
    1916-11-06 - Joined "K" Supply Coy - rank Pte (ASC Depot, Aldershot)
    1916-11-09 - Trade Proficiency (Clerks) certificate stated, ...
    1916-11-17 - Vaccinated (Aldershot)
    1916-11-21 - TAB (Typhoid-Paratyphoid A & B innoculation, Aldershot)
    1917-05-26 - Appointed A/Cpl (paid 1/6 Cpl pay extra) (RSP Depot, Bath)
    1917-09-28 - Found fit for Medical Category B2 service
    1918-02-12 - Reverted to Pte at own request (Prees Heath, Salop)
    1918-02-20 - To BEF (Folkestone > Boulogne)
    1918-10-10 - Went on 15 days furlough
    1918-10-26 - Returned to BEF (France)
    1918-12-04 - Appointed A/Cpl (unpaid) (Versailles)
    1919-01-03 - Reverted to Pte on admission to hospital (Versailles)
    1919-01-29 - Admitted to Clandon Park War Hospital (Guildford, Surrey)
    1919-02-06 - Transferred to Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich
    1919-02-26 - Discharged from hospital
    1919-02-27 - Medically examined at #1 Dispersal Unit (Fovant, Wilts)

    1919-02-28 - Granted 28 days demob furlough - rank A/Cpl (Fovant, Wilts)
    1919-03-28 - Finally demobbed

  3. Philip of Lee

    Philip of Lee Active Member

    Thank you for all your comments, which are interesting and helpful. I assumed "L" was for "Lance", as in "Lance Corporal", and it may have been mentioned in a post, in response to one of my earlier queries. I have never heard of "L" for "Local": maybe some contributors may be able to confirm the term was used or not...

    So, the progression (in ranks) I show would be correct, hence at one stage my father would have gone back one, as it were, like a game of snakes and ladders (!). I know he went into hospital on one or two occasions (one of them in Egypt: typhoid), so maybe there is a link to that, or it was just the circumstances.

  4. veronicad

    veronicad Well-Known Member

    I have a service record where the owner ,over a period of two years was admitted to Hospital in the Far East five times.(Malaria)On each admittance he reverted to his previous rank. Then on discharge from Hospital he was reinstated to the higher rank .I believe it to have been the norm during campaigns.Veronica.
  5. Philip of Lee

    Philip of Lee Active Member

    OK, thanks for that, and I will have another look at my notes to see whether this tallies with my father's Service Record: I have successfully deciphered the bulk of it by now...
  6. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Maybe it's time for a gratuitous fact collation tip (for anyone struggling to piece it all together ;)):
    • A big key to service records, like family history sources generally, is the realisation that possibly-interdependent facts are usually so scattered as to need them all pulling together into an at-a-glance view to see how they interrelate and spot inconsistencies/gaps to fuel your 'to do' list
    • One of the most-universally accepted ways of doing this is the good old timeline approach (as per my example above but more so)
    • By all means start by jotting down events on paper as you identify them but most folk soon find it easier to do so electronically so they may freely add them in due order - a spreadsheet approach, for instance, even letting you sort them by various criteria (if you want to go overboard) though I mainly just use Notepad (on KiSS grounds)
    • Further reading c/o "use a timeline" ~genealogy - Google Search
  7. Philip of Lee

    Philip of Lee Active Member


    Thanks and the idea of a time-line can certainly help.

  8. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    Local rank,is/was given to bring a soldier to the required rank to attend courses etc.,it would also allow a Corporal with Local rank of Sgt. attending a course to be billeted in the Sgts Mess.
    But he would only hold the local rank whilst attending the course and revert to his original rank on return to unit.
    The local rank could also be used to fill an appointment at a unit with effect at that unit only,but acting unpaid rank more often used this way.
  9. Philip of Lee

    Philip of Lee Active Member

    OK, and this is very clear as to what a 'local rank' stood for. Thanks.
  10. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Something that just "cropped" up in the 24th Lancer thread @ :

    http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/37155-24th-lancers/page-3 as post #65

    But probably sits better here:

    Something new I've just learned from that: http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/16211-british-army-rank-wwii-wsgt/

    It's interesting as i think I've seen some pics of my granddad dressed as a Lance corporal or corporal (but as I'd always assumed he'd been a sergeant mostly) I wasn't sure.

    I think from the looks of it though w/sgt was a rank only applied during war. At the end of the war they didn't want to be left with thousands of NCOs who wanted to stay in the army, so they designated them as W/SGT [war only]

    (No need to reply - esp. in the Lancer thread as I'll post this in the above link too ;) ) - and I think the answer is covered here?

  11. hendrix17

    hendrix17 Active Member

    Hi, this is probably a stupid question but can somebody please explain the order of ranks in the British army. Where does an NCO rank? I'm guessing if private is bottoms then NCO is next? And also what was there roll in there unit?
  12. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    N.C.O.'s were dogsbodies who did all the work of Officers but didn't get paid as much - so starting with the Private -
    Lance Corporal - Corporal - Sergeant - Sergeant-Major - Regimental Sergeant Major-

    The Officers 2nd Lieutenant - Lieutenant - Captain - Major - Lt Colonel - Colonel - Brigadier - Major General - Lt General -

    General - Field Marshal …

  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    You forgot Staff Sergeant. NCO's Non-Commissioned Officers went up to the rank of Staff Sergeant and then you have Warrant Officers WO2 is Sergeant Major and WO1 is the RSM.
  14. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Didn't forget Staff Sergeant - we just didn't have any…….

  15. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    A wiki may have been faster.
  16. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member


    I assume that this is a WWII timeframe?

    What is a colour Sergeant, and a Brigadier General?

    How about a similar WWII list for the Royal Navy & RAF? That would be interesting too.

    Best wishes,
  17. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Ok, two questions in a similar direction:

    A subaltern is a junior officer - was it invariably a lieutenant?

    Did the status of a brigadier change from being a general-ranked officer to not? If so, when and why? And when did a Brigadier General become merely a brigadier?
  18. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    as far as I can recall a Brigadier's status was changed with the advent of Battle groups with Infantry - Tanks - Artillery

    as opposed to three battalions of whatever - Battle groups were led by LT Colonels and sometime lower ranks…

  19. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Regards the change from Brigadier-General to Brigadier this from wikipedia

  20. mapshooter

    mapshooter Senior Member

    Brigadier General was not a rank, it was an appointment. It was abolished in 1 January 1921 and replaced by Acting or Temporary Brigadier General. On 1 June 1928 these were replaced by Temporary Brigadier. In 1948 the rank of Brigadier was introduced. Throughout WW2 Temp Brigs were normally brigade (all types inf, armd, AA, whatever) commanders or similar, eg Commander RA (CRA), Corps Commander RA (CCRA) or Commander Army Group RA (CAGRA). Brigadiers, however named, were never and are not General Officers.

    Subaltern covers both 2Lt and Lt.

    Color Serjeant, Staff Sgt, Quarter-Master Sgt are all the same rank (Serjeant was mostly spelt with a J until after WW2, but did vary a bit between regiments)

    Privates/Sappers/Gunners/Rifleman/etc are not NCOs.

    In WW2 there were also Lance Serjeants.

    Battlegroups always were and still are ad-hoc groupings.

    In artillery Corporals were Bombadiers (or Lance Bdrs).

    I think that covers most of it, but oh, I forgot Conductors in the Ordnance Corps.
    Charley Fortnum likes this.

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