"Officers and Other Ranks" OR "Officers and Soldiers?"

#1
When I was in the army (lantern begins to swing), I recall that at some point possibly in the 1970s a encyclical came from on high that in the army the expression ‘Officers and other ranks” was to be no more and would be replaced with “Officers and soldiers” I believe also that similar changes were made in the RN and RAF. Am I right or am I recalling just a suggestion? I have tried to tease a definitive answer from the MOD without, to date, any success. Why do I want to know you ponder? Well in connection with my PhD research into transitions within society, in particular civilian perceptions of the military and of ex military people (details available elsewhere on this site).
 
#2
I am pretty long in the tooth - still serving - but the term 'OR', in my experience at any rate, fell out of common usage many years back. Could be a regimental thing but I always thought of it as a vaguely derogatory term even divisive so I have avoided using it. I mainly see the term now on the toilets of antiquated training camps on Salisbury Plain.
 
#4
The changes in the RAF convention may have had something to do with the fact that they habitually referred to "Officers and their ladies, Sergeants and their wives and airmen and their women".
How about that, more cav than the cav! :wink:
 
#5
We're all soldiers. Some are commissioned, some are non-commissioned. FFS.
Find another PC non-derogatory collective if none that are currently available suit.
 
#6
Storeman Norman said:
We're all soldiers. Some are commissioned, some are non-commissioned. FFS.
Find another PC non-derogatory collective if none that are currently available suit.
Thanks for all comments. I am not looking for a term to use, Storeman Norman, I am seeking clarification on current usage. I take your point that "we're all soldiers" and by the same token all navy folk are sailors and all air force types are airmen? I am interested in how civilians, particularly civilian employers understand the military, military ranks and military culture.
 
#7
The trend seems to be away from ORs as validated by some of the other replies, however it has'nt gone out of use, nor has it been replaced formally by a PC "soldiers", which I have heard. Interestingly this term still has overtly masculine overtones. It is does not appear to be used in a derogatory way - it's a fact!

Indeed NATO refer to all Officers by their rank ie OF3 (Capt, Fl Lt, Lt) whereas OR3 refers to a Sgt/ Leading Hand.

What I have also seen is usage of a collection of generic terms such as "The Boys" "The guys" "The lads" whereas because they are special Paras like the word "Toms" don't know why!!
 
#8
You might care to look even further back and establish when the term 'rank and file' went out of use in the army - I think it is still current among unreconstructed trade unionists.

As for 'soldiers' to mean people other than officers, I'm pretty sure it was coming in by 1965.
 
#9
Thanks for all comments. I am not looking for a term to use, Storeman Norman, I am seeking clarification on current usage. I take your point that "we're all soldiers" and by the same token all navy folk are sailors and all air force types are airmen? I am interested in how civilians, particularly civilian employers understand the military, military ranks and military culture.[/quote]

I am not sure that all members of the Navy are 'sailors' since some never go to sea or that all members of the RAF are 'airmen' because the vast majority are employed in ground roles. However, all members of the Army are soldiers. Sorry to nit pick but there it is.
 
#10
To say officers and soldiers would imply that officers don't soldier. Just like to say officers and men implies that officers are not men (as well as having more women in the service today complicates calling them all men).

So ORs would be the right term to use, even if "other-ranks" might sound a bit dismissive. There again I've been called a lot worse and I don't buy into all this PC crap so I'm not too fussed!
I think the Americans use the term "enlisted" for ORs saying you have enlisted and commissioned guys in the service. That'd sound "nicer" if you are deeply sleighted by OR, but then again we'd all sound like gay americans who only joined to get money for college.

I thought everyone in the navy is a sailor. Then you have that broken down into officers and ratings, no? Just like all army are soldiers and all RAF are airmen, then broken down into officers and ORs. Aircrew is another thing from airman entirely I gather, dont even have to be in the RAF and many RAF are not "steely eyed warriors of the skies" no matter what they tell the girls in the bar!
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#11
Note that the rank of Signalman morphed into Signaller (no official change though) around the same time frame methinks.
 
#12
Technically speaking, one should refer to 'Officers, Non-commissioned officers and other ranks' - 'OR' is not a catch-all term for a soldier who isn't an officer.

The term 'Other Ranks' came due to the unique regard we have for our private soldiers, and the vast diversity of trades and nomenclature used to identify them within the OR 1-2 bracket.

The reference for this discussion is QRs J 2.042 and you may also like to look at STANAG 2116 1992 (Edition 5) which contains all the detail you could possibly want about national exemptions and so forth - actually quite interesting.
 
#13
Darth_Doctrinus said:
Technically speaking, one should refer to 'Officers, Non-commissioned officers and other ranks' - 'OR' is not a catch-all term for a soldier who isn't an officer.

The term 'Other Ranks' came due to the unique regard we have for our private soldiers, and the vast diversity of trades and nomenclature used to identify them within the OR 1-2 bracket.

The reference for this discussion is QRs J 2.042 and you may also like to look at STANAG 2116 1992 (Edition 5) which contains all the detail you could possibly want about national exemptions and so forth - actually quite interesting.
So, thanks again to all who have contributed with such enthusiasm to my enquiry which arises from a series of interviews I have been conducting with 22 year served ex army NCOs and WOs.
 
#14
Note that the rank of Signalman morphed into Signaller (no official change though) around the same time frame methinks.
I'm pretty sure this was an official change, around the time WRACs ceased to be WRACs and joined the various Corps to which they were affiliated.
 
#15
With reference to "Signalman" becoming "Signaller": at about the same time (after much debate) REME decided not to make any change but to regard "Craftsman" as a gender free term.
 
#17
No reason why it shouldn't still be Officers and ORs, unless you want to start getting silly.

Talking of which, an earlier contributor mentioned female sailors. The female for -or is -rix (pl -rices). Hence dominatrix is a female dominator, you occasionally see someone referred to as an editrix and should see doctrix more often.

So, a female working at sea would be a Sailrix. I wonder why these things go out of fashion?.
 
#18
Being pedantic, I guess that the reason that the Latin feminine ending does not apply is because the word "sailor" does not derive from Latin. I realise that English is a mongrel language and delights in bending the rules but I think that you are trying to stretch it beyond reasonable limits in this case! It would work for "navigator".
 
#19
On a link to the officer/OR theme - this has probably been done to death before, but it irritates me intensely.

How do we stop the media (the Blair BC in particular) referring to all soldiers as officers? You know the thing - some Tom gets nicked for soldierly villainy and the Beeb screams "Army officer arrested". I realise that the media hacks' logic runs : police officer, fire officer, prison officer etc ergo all members of the army are "Army officers" and the general public doesn't care anyway, but it still makes me angry!
 
#20
Beentheredonethat said:
On a link to the officer/OR theme - this has probably been done to death before, but it irritates me intensely.

How do we stop the media (the Blair BC in particular) referring to all soldiers as officers? You know the thing - some Tom gets nicked for soldierly villainy and the Beeb screams "Army officer arrested". I realise that the media hacks' logic runs : police officer, fire officer, prison officer etc ergo all members of the army are "Army officers" and the general public doesn't care anyway, but it still makes me angry!
It makes me angry when you pick your nose.Army Officer. THATS RIGHT> 8O 8O 8O
 

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