"Kings" Corporal Fact or Fiction ?

#1
Before the beer starts to flow and the legs get wobbly can any one shed light on the so called "Kings" Corporal who was supposedly unbreakable ?
Is It Army myth or fact ?. I seem to remember a story in a comic, Victor I think which I read in the dim dark days of my youth.
 
#2
I'm aware of a convention that a promotion awarded at a high level has to be revoked at that level. Regs .... err, I don't know.

If I'm right that would mean that someone would have to go cap in hand to HM and tell them that his Corporal has been a naughty boy.
 
#3
It's a myth. From what I've heard it has it's origins in the early nineteenth century, where soldiers sometimes received the honourary rank of corporal for bravery in the field.
 
#4
Tartan_Terrier said:
It's a myth. From what I've heard it has it's origins in the early nineteenth century, where soldiers sometimes received the honourary rank of corporal for bravery in the field.
Myth seems too strong TT. check this out:-

The history of King's Corporal and Kitchener Sergeant in the Army is known to some, but is frequently the subject of argument. A writer to the Journal of Army Historical Research, 1935, states that the current tradition of the rank was instituted as a reward for gallantry during the South African War and existed during that campaign only. Private soldiers, it is said, once promoted King's Corporal-supernumerary to regimental establishment - could never be reduced except by the King himself.

In the same journal for 1936 a reprint from the Naval and Military Journal quoted the following on the subject of King's Corporal, which apparently was a "mention": "There was an official suggestion in 1901 to the effect that soldiers who had distinguished themselves in war-time, but were unsuited to be NCOs in peace-time, should be given some mark of distinction on the right arm, preferably an embroidered band, carrying with it a step in rank whilst actually on active service, with additional pay, and a donation of £10 at the end of it.

Some members of the War Office Committee who sat to consider the proposal objected to the monetary grant, urging that such was derogatory to the soldier, but one of them pointed out that "Lord Roberts had not hesitated to accept £100,000, so I cannot see why a soldier should object to receive £10." The idea, however, was not adopted, though some men were specially promoted in the field in the latter stages of the Boer War, and were generally known as 'Kitchener Sergeants'."

Many inquiries were made during World War II on the question of King's Corporal, whether it really existed or not. On 22 October 1944 a letter appeared in the London Times referring to the statement made by the Secretary of State for War in the British Parliament on 10 October. It had been asked on what authority Lord Kitchener had promoted a rifleman of the Rifle Brigade to the rank of King's Corporal on 8 December 1901. Other correspondents cited additional instances. The Times writer asked: "Can any authority say what the award is intended to convey to the recipient if it is not recognized in the War Office?"

During the South African War Australian contingents had King's Corporals and Kitchener Sergeants. It is recorded in official orders that two corporals and a lance-corporal were promoted sergeant and five troopers, a lance corporal and a private were promoted corporal by the Commander-in-Chief for gallantry in the field. These were termed "King's Corporals" and "Kitchener Sergeants" and the promotions were announced in orders under the heading of "mentions", and were published in the London Gazette.

The order announcing the promotions stated that "the General Commanding-in-Chief had been pleased to sanction the following promotions of NCOs and men for distinguished gallantry in the field (should they be desirous of accepting it). Such promotion to take effect in each case from the date mentioned on which the act was performed.

They will be absorbed supernumerary to establishment of their unit, and will be absorbed into vacancies on the first opportunity-

New South Wales Mounted Rifles,

Corporal P. J. Daly, promoted sergeant by C.-in-C. (Commonwealth General Order 148/I902);

Victorian Imperial Bushmen,

Lance-Corporal R. McRae,

Trooper W. Sheehan,

Trooper J. Clay,

Trooper J. Green, and

Trooper P. O'Brien, promoted corporals by C-in-C. (Victorian General Order 66/ 1901);

Victorian Imperial Regiment,

Corporal Hewitt, promoted sergeant by G-G (Victorian General Order 79/1900;

Victorian Imperial Bushmen,

Lance-Corporal A. N. Gregg, promoted sergeant by G-G (Victorian General Order 83/1901);

Victorian Imperial Regiment,

Trooper Hipland, promoted corporal by C-C. (Victorian General Order 93/1900;

Victorian Mounted Rifles,

Private H. A. Wilson, promoted corporal by C-C. (Victorian General Order 93/1901)".

Queen's Scarf

In the despatch from Field-Marshal Earl Roberts to the Right Honourable the Secretary of State for War, published in the London Gazette dated 17 June 1902, reference is made to the Queen's Scarf, which is considered to be a "mention". In April 1900 Lord Roberts received from Her Majesty Queen Victoria four woollen scarves worked by herself, for distribution to the four most distinguished private soldiers of the Colonial Forces of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, then serving under his command.
So it seems likely that these appointments were made, at some time, under certain circumstances and I have also seen a photograph of a Victorian (as in from there, not from when!) nurse at Tobruk in 1941, who is identified as King's Corporal Grey.
 
#5
It's interesting that most of the examples you quote are Australian.

Just a coincidence, or are/were 'King's Corporals' more of an antipodean thing?
 
#6
My Grandad said my Great Grandfather might have been one but as he didn't really speak much about the war he couldn't confirm it.
 
#8
Check out the Middlesex Yeomanry history. Seem to remember something in the Soldier mag in 2004 o4 5 about this. Their ranks had crown added or as a CSgt, and extra stripe
 
#9
Piper Laidlaw VC. KOSB.,, "The Piper of Loos" was promoted to Corporal immediately after his award of the VC. Read a press report from that time, while researching the battle, stated:- "Laidlaw thus became King's Corporal...."
Perhaps it wasn't a myth. Though another, more recent, KOSB VC, Big Bill Speakman gained and lost stripes with monotonous regularity for a while after his award!
 

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