First World War Ranks

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by derfel, Mar 7, 2006.

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  1. Hi everybody.

    I don't post very often, in fact hardly ever. Some of you may remember that I asked for some guidance last summer regarding books on First World War discipline for my MA dissertation. Well having used your suggestions I'm well on my way so cheers for that.

    I'm going through a list of names at the moment and a couple of things have come to my attention which you kind people might be able to help me with (hopefully).

    Ok so firstly a question regarding the title of a private soldier. A 'Private' in a rifle regiment is referred to as Rifleman X, does this apply to Fusilier Regiments and Guards? As in Fusilier X and Guardsman X? I know it does now (I think) but I was hoping someone might be able to confirm that this was the case in the First World War.

    Related to this point I've found a bloke who is a Lance-Sergeant in a Light Infantry Regiment (DLI to be exact) What exactly did this rank equate to? Is he a Corporal or something between Corporal and Sergeant? Again, not too sure what the case is today, but really I'm interested in what it was back then.

    Thanks in advance for the help.

  2. I'm fairly sure that the term "Rifleman" was still a unofficial term until the 1930's - I remember reading this on the list of VC winners at my TAC.

    I took this to mean that Privates in Rifle regiments were referred to as such within their regiments, but were referred to as Private outside of them.

    Lance Sergeant is still in use by the Guards and HAC and is equivalent to a Corporal. They also refer to their Lance Corporals as Corporal (who wear two stripes to confuse the rest of the army). I had no idea those ranks were used by the DLI though...
  3. I think Lance Sergeant was in use throughout the army until somewhere in the 1940s and I further think you're right about the rank of Rifleman.
  4. Sorry to digress slightly, but I know that in WW2 there used to be the rank of WO3 (Platoon Sergeant Major) - anyone got any info on this? As in badge of rank etc.

  5. Ventress

    Ventress LE Moderator

    Wasnt the rank Guardsman only confirmed by the King in 1915?

    Prepared to be corrected.

    I am aware of the now WO2 (RQMS) type badge being used for WO3.
  6. Actually it was the other way around old chap. WO3 wore the large crown alone and WO2 wore the crown and wreath.
  7. Thanks for the speedy help!

    It would seem that the use of different titles for a private soldier depends on the preference of the regiment. I think I'll just stick to using Private for everyone, unless it specifically uses another title.

    The Lance-Sergeant as described on the link in Archimedes' post seems to be a good explanation. That site is invaluable to anyone looking into British military history, the number of times I've used it is ridiculous.

    Thanks again!
  8. True. But, it may not have always been applied consistently in once particualr circumstance. If you lookat the graves of Guardsmen who died in the 1914-18 Great War, you see a mixture of titles after 1915.
  9. Lance Sergeant was used in line regiments during WW2 they were section commanders (much the same as present day L/Sgts in the Guards). WO3s were instituted in 1939 (1KOSB's Sergeants' Mess mail box was presented by the first WO3s in the Bn - it was still in use when I last visited that mess in 1984) they were meant to command platoons to make up for a possible shortfall of officers, the rank lasted until around 1940. The badge of rank was a crown.
  10. King George V authorized the use of the rank of "Guardsman" in lieu of "Private" in the Brigade of Guards in November 1918.
  11. Ventress

    Ventress LE Moderator

    Duley corrected by all, thanks.
  12. I have seen War Graves dated as late as 1920 referring to "Private" so and so of the Blank Guards...
  13. Out of interest, does anyone know when 'serjeant' became 'sergeant'?

    I'm guessing the 1920's sometime.
  14. And how come the Middlesex yeomanry SSgts wear 4 stripes and a crown, and ordinary Sgts wear 3, and a crown, Cpls 2 & a crown and LCpls one and a crown (but on mess kit, 2 and a crown cos their allowed as juniors to wear mess kit). F***ing confusing !! I note from a picture pre-war, that the Royal Bucks Hussars NCOs wore crowns as well.