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Rank and appointment of Guards Junior NCOs


Muerrisch

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The badges of rank and appointment of junior Non-Commissioned-Officers (NCOs) of the Foot Guards in the Great War.

 

For the purpose of these notes “junior” is taken to mean below full sergeant rank, otherwise known as gold sergeant. The first step up from Private (“Guardsman” status was introduced immediately after the war) was a large and risky one. Lance-corporals (LCpls) had no security in their appointment, in that their substantive rank remained Private and they could be reverted at the stroke of the Commanding Officer’s pen. A battalion was established for 49 LCpls. They were forbidden to associate with privates and were expected to fill corporals' (Cpls) rôles.  Each unit was allowed a fixed number of “paid LCpls” who earned 3d per day extra over that of the Private. The first advancement was usually to “unpaid LCpl”, who received all of the kicks and none of the ha’pence, as the saying went. Many reverted voluntarily, many were reduced as a result of misdemeanours. The paid posts were regulated by Army Council Instructions.

 

The Foot Guards had been anomalous regarding an appointment badge for LCpls since about 1882. Regulations required the badge to be a single white worsted double lace chevron on the blue facing colour, worn on the upper right arm.

Dawnay records a photograph of that date showing a soldier of the Grenadiers with the single chevron. He adds that there was a grenade above, but makes no comment on the other two regiments. There seems to be no logical need for the grenade (no other NCO except the pioneer sergeant wore one in scarlet tunic order) unless to mark “paid” status.

 

The Grenadiers in white drill order wore the grenade above two chevrons, three chevrons and as part of the colour sergeant badge.

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By 1887 LCpls of Foot Guards were ordered to wear two chevrons, exactly the same as full Cpls. Dawnay avoids speculation on the rôle of the Sovereign in ordering this change.

To be made a Cpl was a promotion, to be senior to all privates and LCpls. Promotions could be substantive or acting (“local” was used interchangeably with “acting”). It was possible to be made a Cpl without ever having been a LCpl, and this was frequently the case in war. Substantive ranks could not be lost without administrative action. The Cpls’ badge was the same two chevrons as their juniors. At first sight strange, this was not entirely illogical, as both did the same jobs …….. there were never enough Cpls in any case. Both were referred to as corporal by all ranks.

Just as a unit was allowed privates to be appointed unpaid or paid LCpls, so was it allowed to appoint Cpls as unpaid or paid lance-sergeants (LSgts). A battalion was established for eight. The number of paid posts, which earned an extra 5d per day above Cpls’ pay, was regulated. Both LSgt appointments wore three white double lace chevrons, both were senior to all Cpls, and both did duty as sergeants.

 

Drab Service Dress {SD) from 1902.

Rank and appointment badges were ordered to be worn on both arms in SD, a sensible decision for active service. Scarlet tunics and their badges were retained until the declaration of war in 1914. The Coldstream and the Scots Guards, and the new Irish, transferred their badge system to SD with a minimum of fuss, so that a LCpl, whether unpaid or paid, wore two drab worsted chevrons, a full Cpl the same, a full Cpl appointed  LSgt three chevrons, and a full sergeant the same.

 

The Grenadier Guards chose to be different. No useful record of this appears to be in the public domain. Neither Dawnay, Walton, Barthorp nor other distinguished authors appear to have ventured to write about the introduction of the grenade as a SD rank distinction. The searchable index of the Military History Society database reveals nothing. It is not even certain if the addition of the grenade was made when SD was introduced, or later, or piecemeal. It does not appear to have been publicly funded or acknowledged in the early years. Neither Clothing Regulations nor Priced Vocabularies mention the matter of worsted grenades for SD before the Great War.

The grenade appeared above two chevrons, above three chevrons, and as part of the colour sergeants’ badge (exactly the same as the white drill jacket).  If the Grenadiers adopted it, why did not the other three regiments do similarly: each had a perfectly good regimental emblem to use, already worn by their pioneers? This article can shine no light on the matter.

 

The use of the grenade badge to amplify rank or appointment.

First a note on Good Conduct Badges (GCBs). These badges had each attracted 1d each per day, but the payments, but not wearing, were being phased out after 1906 when Proficiency Pay was introduced. Full corporals and above were deemed to be of good conduct by definition. They were not to wear GCBs. Thus, unless the Guards uncharacteristically and systematically broke the rules, the wearing of these badges should be by LCpls or below.

 

In the period of the Great War NCOs of the Grenadier Guards were photographed wearing the following badge combinations:

 

1.     Two chevrons, no grenade

2.     Two chevrons with grenade above, and GCBs

3.     Two chevrons with grenade above, no GCBs

4.     Three chevrons, no grenade, no GCBs

5.     Three chevrons with grenade above, no GCBs.

 

The photographs are placed in order at the foot of the blog

 

What might these distinctions signify? What is the order of precedence and what were the titles of the ranks and appointments? Assuming analogy with full dress, soldiers 1, 2 and 3, numbering from the left, are corporals of sorts, whereas 4 and 5 are sergeants. Soldier 2 wears GCBs, forbidden for full corporals, therefore he appears to be a LCpl, either unpaid or paid. Photographs of soldiers with this combination of badges are abundant. As collateral for LCpl recognition a commissioned portrait (The Grenadier Guards, Hanning), of soldier 6, in order below shows another example and this man is captioned as a lance-corporal.

Is soldier 1, Ernest Bailey in 1914, senior to, or junior to, the LCpls? We have a photograph, soldier 3, taken in 1916 showing Bailey with two chevrons and grenade above, so soldier 1 is almost certainly junior to the men identified as LCpls but is somehow senior to a Private. In turn, number 3. might be a full corporal (no GCBs), but we cannot be certain, because GCBs were lost for very minor misdemeanours. As in scarlet tunic order, so LCpls and Cpls in service dress are virtually indistinguishable from each other.

 

Acting Rank.

 

When war broke out there was an immediate problem in that reservists (who frequently made up half of war establishments) automatically retained their previous substantive rank on recall. Units found that they had many more corporals and sergeants than allowed, so that there could be no substantive promotions until all the reservist NCOs were assimilated. Nevertheless the expansion of the army demanded that extra NCOs were needed to train the New Armies. The solution was to appoint Acting ranks, with no job security such that when they were drafted to the Front they reverted to their lower substantive rank unless there was a vacancy. Soldier 1., Ernest Bailey, who is by his badge and his future career progression apparently junior to the grenade-badged LCpls, may have been Acting because his unit has its full establishment of 49 LCpls in the grade and needed more.

 

King’s Regulations 1912 amended to 1st August 1914, paragraph 294 refer:

The establishment of lance-sergeants, lance-corporals and acting-bombardiers is laid down in Peace Establisments  Part I. [Ed: and War Establishments]

Brigade commanders are authorised in cases of necessity to sanction the temporary appointment, in excess of the establishment, of a small number of unpaid lance-sergeants, lance-corporals and acting bombardiers.

 

Army Council Instruction 2105 of 1916 was one of several that returned to the subject, reminding Commanding Officers that:

The appointment will be given up as soon as the holder ceases to perform the specific duties for which the appointment was given.

 

The absence of a grenade badge signifies Bailey’s lowly Acting status; he performed extra duties for no extra pay. His career prospered and he died in 1918 as a substantice corporal, a lance-sergeant in the regiment.

 

The Sergeants.

Turning to the sergeants, soldier 7 in order below is identified as Lance-Sergeant Henderson (The Grenadier Guards), complete with three chevrons and a grenade. Given that the grenade is a much-prized artefact of the regiment, bestowed in 1815, it surely marks seniority over no grenade. This implies that soldier 4, with three chevrons but no grenade,  is junior to a lance-sergeant. He may therefor be an Acting unpaid Lance-Sergeant under KR 1912 , awaiting a vacancy on the Establishment, by analogy with Bailey. He may not even have attained any previous rank at all, because the exigencies of war made for extreme cases.

We are left with several questions unanswered, among them:

 

a.     When did the Grenadiers begin to use the grenade for rank distinctions in SD?

b.     Was it authorised?

c.      What were the rank/appointment titles, especially regarding Acting status?

 

I am greatly indebted to Frogsmile, who, on the British Badge Forum, has done the hard yards of research and finding illustrations. 

In addition to those references mentioned above, I consulted Brigade of Guards Standing Orders over the relevant period, and those for the Grenadier Guards.

 

On or before Brigade Standing Orders 1952 were issued, all substantive corporals were made lance-sergeants and admitted to the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess, thus abolishing the title (but not the pay) of Cpl..

 

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FROGSMILE

Posted (edited)

Thank you for articulating such a well balanced article, giving appropriate weight to what is known for sure, and what is as yet unclear.  One small thing that you mention, that I am unclear about, is where you make mention of Ernest Bailey dying as a Lance Sergeant.  I don't understand where you get the evidence for that.  He is wearing in the last known photo of him two stripes with a grenade over, which is known to indicate a Corporal.  At that time, unlike today, the Guards Corporal did not automatically equate as a Lance Sergeant.  Was there a record of Ernest Bailey wearing three stripes?

 

For the record, my personal view from the perspective of a long serving infantryman considering the subtle matters of status amongst NCOs and the practicalities of operating in the field, is that the Grenadier Guards NCO ranks and appointments,below Colour Sergeant, were most likely as follows:

 

Lance Corporal - Appointment - Two stripes.  Function:  Junior NCO supervising small tasks and in effect a superior private rather like the US Private First Class, and in extremis capable of commanding an infantry section.

 

Corporal - Rank - Two stripes with grenade over.  Function:  More experienced Junior NCO carrying out similar duties as above, but pension earning and generally commanding an infantry section.

 

Lance Sergeant - Appointment - Three stripes.  Function:  Senior NCO, often commanding one of the infantry sections, but capable of stepping up to be a platoon sergeant.

 

Sergeant - Rank - Three stripes with grenade over.  Function:  Senior NCO, most experienced within a platoon and generally acting as the deputy to the subaltern platoon commander.

 

Much was made of all NCOs being capable of acting one-up and this was a formal expression of that ideal that fitted with the Grenadier Guards belief that they had a deliberately contrived and thus superior way of doing things.  The complicating nuances to these positions are the aspects pertaining to Acting rank, which as a rule must attract pay, but not pension rights, and the good conduct badge, which latter I do not feel is necessarily so cut and dried in relation to the unique Foot Guards system of NCO ranking below full sergeant, although I cannot explain any written evidence and further research is necessary.  An important point to bear in mind though, is that Acting rank is a sticking plaster, used only where needed and so not omnipresent.  Conversely Lance appointments are a standard part of the Army organisation and way of doing things, and a permanent given in  the army infrastructure of that time.  It seems to me that a badge’s absence to mark this permanent position is far more likely than one being absent to indicate the only occasional acting rank.

 

The larger enclosed photo shows a Corporal later promoted to Colour Sergeant, note that both have grenades above their stripes.  The group photo shows what I believe to be a Lance Corporal standing at rear left (without grenade). To give context to the rather small cropped photo that Muerrisch showed above the photo showing the Prince of Wales on the march with the GG in 1914 shows what I believe to be a Lance Sergeant with his three stripes without grenade, and note that beyond him is a Corporal, with his two stripes and grenade.  Clearly the man with three stripes is senior to the man with two stripes and it is unconscionable that in a Guards battalion, on parade with the PofW has simply lost his grenade or is improperly dressed.  I believe that he has no grenade because he is holding the appointment of Lance Sergeant.  The next photo shows a full Corporal drummer who was then promoted to the next 'rank' of Sergeant Drummer, bypassing Lance Sergeant.  There is then a rather fuzzy photo that shows a full Sergeant with grenade and what I believe to be a Lance Corporal with two stripes without grenade.  Finally, just to show that the use of the grenade as an indicator continued and was used in both World Wars, I enclose a photo of GG in 1940 that seems to show a Lance Corporal, as before, without grenade.  I’ve posted quite a few photos from during the two World Wars that show that was not the case back then, and several of the photos show multiple NCOs in the same frame with some having the grenade and some not. It is too frequent to be merely a case of a shortage of grenade badges.  It was quite a clever way for the Grenadier Guards to differentiate, in service dress and later battle dress, the full Corporals and full Sergeants from the Lance Corporals and Lance Sergeants.

   

To bring matters up-to-date, after 1964 all at Lance Corporal level across the army were made a substantive rank, and for all less Foot Guards, the title Lance Sergeant was abolished.  This resulted in:

Corporal - 2 stripes with grenade above (rank, but functioning in the role of the old Lance Corporal in a battalion approximately half the size it used to be).


Lance Sergeant - 3 stripes with grenade above (rank, but functioning in the role of the old Corporal whilst being a Sgts’ Mess member).


Sergeant - 3 stripes with grenade over (rank, functioning in traditional role of an infantry sergeant). 


Total: Three rather than the previous two substantive ranks now below Colour Sergeant, but aligned with the rest of the infantry and reflecting a smaller battalion overall. No longer any unpaid appointments, everyone financially remunerated and pensioned for their rank and efforts.

Upshot and outcome: there was no longer a requirement for a Lance Corporal ‘Title’ in the Foot Guards and therefore it would have been perceived by the regiment that 2 stripes without grenade were obsolete and thus abolished. Although titled Lance Sergeant, this was now a substantive position and so the grenade was then adopted.

 

 

GG NCO.jpg

GG Reservists 1914.JPG

GG and PoW on march.jpeg

Ernest Arthur Allwood as a drummer sergeant and corporal.jpg

GG Sgt and Cpl.jpeg

1940 GG.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Frogsmile,

 

I believe that your well-argued position, based on your experience half a century after the Great War, collapses unless you can square it with what I advance as facts.

 

Please could you specifically address the two pieces of evidence that I offer for a lance-corporal to wear two chevrons and a grenade? These are:

 

1. the commissioned and captioned illustration of a LCpl with grenade and two GCBs for "The British Grenadiers", written by a retired GG Lt-Colonel.

 

2. the fact that photographs abound (you show some) of men with two chevrons, grenade and Good Conduct Badges (GCBs) in defiance of the direct and repeated and long lasting regulation that full corporals were not to wear the GCBs. Full corporals were deemed to be of Good Conduct, with no need for a badge to proclaim it. As was found in the Kipling investigation, the Foot Guards were sticklers for obeying the letter of the law.

 

Please also, as point 3. address the collateral provided by a named portrait of  lance sergeant Henderson wearing three chevrons and grenade.

 

I am content that I have a case that readers of  the GWF would accept, fully in line with the regulations regarding Acting Rank (quoted) and the well-known ones regarding GCBs,, and supported by an authoritative book.

 

Addressing a wider readership, what might be useful (if only illustrative) is access to GG soldiers' records to show career progression to include acting rank, and also GG Battalion Orders in the field. 

 

For myself I shall contact Gary Gibbs at the Guards Museum ...... the subject of grenade badges as an adjunct to rank and appointment seems not to have attracted the attention of proper historians.

 

Lance Sergeant Ernest Bailey GG? Easy, at 

https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/302401/bailey,-/

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FROGSMILE

Posted (edited)

Muerrisch,

 

I think I did say at the outset that your article is well balanced and I did concede very early on (in my third main paragraph) that I have no documentary evidence for my hypothesis/proposition, so I’m disappointed that your tone is, ostensibly at least, a little peevish.  I’ve not rubbished in any way what you have said and I recognise your quotation of various regulations.  
 

The Grenadier Guards book that you refer to I possess too, but mistakes are often made in books, as we both know from cases such a Kipling and King’s tomes on badges, and the single, captioned Lance Corporal painting, is but a tiny facet of a book covering a multitude of subjects.  It was after all over a hundred years ago now and we are trying to balance available photographs against surviving documentation.  My personal infantry experience was not meant as a point of evidence, but merely one of context.  There is arguably a dryness to being entirely a book historian whose viewpoint doesn’t always reflect the reality of what happens in real life.  Not everything that happens is reflected in regulations and the grenade badge was unique as you pointed out, although your comment about good conduct badges is especially difficult to square, and I accept that I don’t have an easy answer for that.

 

As a counter I’ve questioned what point or rationale there would be in using the absence of a grenade to signify the very occasional use of acting rank, when compared with the permanent and deeply ingrained institutional use, of Lance appointments, but you haven’t responded?  I’d also like to understand, please, your comment that Ernest Bailey died as a Lance Sergeant? 
 

It seems to me that we have both posited an argument for the use of and absence of the Grenadier Guards arm badge, and yours is strong with regards to the seeming contradiction of good conduct badge regulation, and mine is strong in relation to the logic of usage, but neither of us has concrete and indisputable evidence where the practice itself is articulated in documentation.  Hopefully some other forum members with an interest in uniforms and insignia might contribute so that this debate can expand and be not quite so binary.  This is a Blog, after all.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Frogsmile, 

 

I am sorry that you perceive my post as peevish. As we clearly disagree substantially, and as this is an open Forum, I am trying to define the basis for disagreement.

 

Would you look at my Point 3. please, regarding the  LSgt Henderson named portrait? If it is correct, it is collateral for Lance appointments wearing the same badges as full ranks. If a mistake, it is the second in the book.

 

Acting appointent was far from very occasional, it was absolutely mandatory at Home in war [as per the ACI that I quoted] and frequently used in the field: I believe that you found examples as early as Mons mentioned in despatches. How else to fill a battlefield command gap before reinforcements arrive?

 

According to the CWGC Ernest Bailey died as a LSgt which is the hyperlink that I posted.

 

https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/302401/bailey,-/

 

 

 

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FROGSMILE

Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Muerrisch said:

Frogsmile, 

 

I am sorry that you perceive my post as peevish. As we clearly disagree substantially, and as this is an open Forum, I am trying to define the basis for disagreement.

 

Would you look at my Point 3. please, regarding the  LSgt Henderson named portrait? If it is correct, it is collateral for Lance appointments wearing the same badges as full ranks. If a mistake, it is the second in the book.

 

Acting appointent was far from very occasional, it was absolutely mandatory at Home in war [as per the ACI that I quoted] and frequently used in the field: I believe that you found examples as early as Mons mentioned in despatches. How else to fill a battlefield command gap before reinforcements arrive?

 

According to the CWGC Ernest Bailey died as a LSgt which is the hyperlink that I posted.

 

https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/302401/bailey,-/

 

 

 


 

The grounds for my disagreement are the logic of usage, which I think I made clear, but I certainly see no need for angst over it. 
 

With regards to LSgt Henderson on page 184 of subject book then on the basis of my proposition yes it is a second error, but if the number of errors seems important then there seem to be plenty more.  On page 107 “meat distribution” is actually coal fatigues (aka ‘regimental sports’).  On page 155 in the group photo is yet another 2-stripe NCO without grenade.  What is his position?  Opposite on page 154 is the so described “Lance Corporal” but if both Lance Corporal and Corporal wore identical badge configurations how would an author differentiate between them with a caption?  On page 165 there are a group of four machine gunners behind their gun, on the left a 2-stripe man without grenade and on the right a 2-stripe man with grenade. What are their ranks and what would the logic be of having two men of the exact same grade in a four man gun team? Would that be likely? On page 169 top there are a group of GG outside a soldiers canteen including a 2-stripe and a 3-stripe both without grenades, is that two acting NCOs who just happen to be in the same frame, or two Lance appointments?  On page 199 there is a 2-stripe NCO without grenade marching an entire GG company through a bombed street, is it likely to be an acting JNCO marching that number of men?  Clearly books can often have errors or a lack of clarity.

 

I think I made clear what I meant about acting rank being a sticking plaster that was not as permanent and ingrained in regimental infrastructure as the Lance appointments.  I wasn’t suggesting that acting rank was rare.

 

Thank you for explaining about the CWWGC entry for Ernest Bailey, reading it again I do now recall his rank at demise from when we first discussed him, and his badges, in the thread back in Jan 2019: https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/188449-photos-of-1st-2nd-and-3rd-btns-grenadier-guards/?tab=comments#comment-2718277

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by FROGSMILE
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I rest my case.

 

It would be good if Forum members could contribute along the lines that I suggested. If Gary Gibbs comes up with facts I will report back.

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I’m perplexed that you see this as some kind of adversarial contest.  It’s certainly not how I see it.  We don’t yet have the answer and I hope that investigations can continue. 
 

Incidentally it seems that poor Ernest Bailey must have died of wounds, as the only casualties recorded by the 2nd Battalion GG on the 13th of March were one sergeant and three men wounded by German retaliatory artillery fire.  This was after the Germans themselves had undergone a harassing fire bombardment intended to break up any intended attack.

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Precis of correspondence with Gary Gibbs, Curator Guards Museum:

 

Gary Gibbs says that I have done an excellent job in preparing my paper regarding my theory of badge/ rank structure for GG on SD, more than he could possibly find, and there is nothing that he can add. There is nothing in the GG Order Books on the subject of grenades over rank or appointment badges on SD in the Great War.

 

The captioned watercolours of Lance appointments in Hannings’ book on the GG, on which my case partly relies, hang in the Officers’  Mess, there was no further information. Gibbs took all the photographs for the book.

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FROGSMILE

Posted (edited)

I am not surprised that the Grenadier Guards Museum have not been able to provide a helpful response, but it doesn’t appear to me that your correspondent really tried very hard, or even engaged others to meaningfully assist.  The fact that the book by Hanning is riddled with caption errors speaks volumes.  I wonder how much more effort there might have been if we ourselves had been allowed to spend time going through not just the order books, but also the photographic archive, which I know to be extensive. The inquiry has not been resolved to any kind of satisfactory degree and sadly it seems unlikely that it ever will be.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Unfortunately there is no "Grenadier Guards Museum", so enquiries have to be addressed to Gary Gibbs, Curator of the Guards Museum. He is also the Editor of the Military Historical Society Bulletin, a well-regarded badge expert. No GG records are held by him, but are at the National Army Museum.

 

Anyone wishing to pursue the matter of grenades on SD more diligently than I has at least five possible courses of action. One is to contact the NAM, who now hold the  Order Books which Gary says he has already gone through. A second is to ask to see the thousands of Foot Guards photographs held by Gibbs in the hope that enough are captioned with rank/appointment to build a logical system. Permission to view is indeed available. The museum has not catalogued the collection so far. Thirdly the GG Officers' Mess could be asked for the provenance of the Hannings' illustrations that I cite in evidence: one is by a famous illustrator Lance Cattermole, the other by a Christopher Morley, of whom there are several artists to choose from. The GG War Diaries are available as inexpensive downloadable and indexed sources. Finally I have always had prompt and courteous help from the various Regiments when researching articles such as my published one on "trade" badges on the Home Service scarlet tunic, and I would expect the same in future.

 

Unless and until someone unearths evidence to refute my argued case, and writes it up to include the new evidence, my argued explanation of the rank/appointment badge system adopted by the Grenadier Guards on SD in Great War might satisfy some, and sits on the table.

 

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FROGSMILE

Posted (edited)

I am aware that it is the Guards Museum that I should have referred to, my reference to Grenadier was an unintentional error.  There was and is certainly no intention on my part to decry, or malign in any way what you have written in your rundown, which I have already acknowledged as a scholarly, balanced and comprehensive work anyway.  I am merely standing by my own view that the evidence that ‘Acting rank’ was the specific reason for a grenade being missing from above two, and three bar chevrons, has insufficient logic to be completely convincing.  That said, I fully concede that my own proposal that the absence of a grenade from the chevrons mentioned was probably an identifier of Lance appointments also has inadequate credence to carry sway.  None of that affects the substantial and permanent explanation that you have rendered in this blog.  

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Thank you.We need a volunteer, preferably London based, to start from scratch.

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FROGSMILE

Posted (edited)

15 hours ago, Muerrisch said:

Thank you.We need a volunteer, preferably London based, to start from scratch.

 

Yes, I think that would be so helpful, but I'm not sure others necessarily find this as interesting a matter as you and I do.  Your point about GCBs is critical, but I cannot get away from the fact that badges of rank and appointment have a very specific military purpose, and that is to visually and unequivocally indicate status within a strict hierarchical system.  Acting rank is primarily a term intended to distinguish the award of pay not function, so there was no visual purpose to having, or omitting an extra element to a badge, as it didn't change the authority of the holder.  Conversely, the difference between Lance Sergeant and Sergeant was significant.  I'm not sure that we can ever square that circle unless we find said volunteer.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Regarding Acting rank, surely on active service "function" came before "pay" ........ when junior leaders were lost by illness or in battle, their substantive replacements might be at Etaples or on a troopship thus unavailable. The short term replacements had to have a badge of authority immediately, pinned on if necessary. What more logical if when "made up" to substantive status, a grenade were to be added?

I do agree that we appear to have lost the interest of others!

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FROGSMILE

Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Muerrisch said:

Regarding Acting rank, surely on active service "function" came before "pay" ........ when junior leaders were lost by illness or in battle, their substantive replacements might be at Etaples or on a troopship thus unavailable. The short term replacements had to have a badge of authority immediately, pinned on if necessary. What more logical if when "made up" to substantive status, a grenade were to be added?

I do agree that we appear to have lost the interest of others!


Given that e.g. Grenadier Guards LSgt and Sgt dressed in SD were, according to your theory, both wearing three stripes with a grenade over, then making the unpaid LSgt ‘acting’ and paying him would under your proposal require him to remove the grenade so that he could add it again when substantive.  That is manifestly not logical.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Not so. LSgts, paid or unpaid, did the same job as full Sgts. Why muck about with badges at the sharp end? Pay the LSgt filling the establishment gap the Sgt rate whilst acting, and then perhaps make him substantive. It is called Inherent Military Probability. KISS. "Keep it simple stupid".

The matter was different at Home: as I quoted, units, depots etc were ordered not to make substantive promotions in excess of parent battalion establishment, even if post holders on active service were casualties.

 

I have an idea. If anyone, ANYONE AT ALL, other than us is interested and posts here, fine by me to keep discussing the matter.

If not, we drop the dead donkey.

 

have a good VE Day.

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2 hours ago, grenadierguardsman said:

I have found this very interesting indeed, thank you.

Andy

 

Thank you but have you an insights to offer please?

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 I bow to the obvious expertise and depth of knowledge  of M and F- profoundly so. It seems to me that an underlying factor, vis a vis, the Great War is the need for the "Regular Army" to continue-and be planned for post-war - at a time when enemy shot and shell would render most of that planning as wasted effort. We tend to think of the "British Army" of the Great War as being one entity, when it was not. It was a pre-war Regular Army, expanded by leaps and bounds during the war by "non-regulars" of various sorts,,with the expectation that it would revert to a "peacetime establishment" when the war ended-as most of the joiners during the war were "Duration of War" then the provisions in the regulations to still maintain a Regular Army continued. 

    Among my local casualties (Not GG bar one) these seeming anomalies pop up from time to time. eg The Regular Lance Corporal (unpaid) of 1914 who relinquished his one stripe but thereafter made steady progress to Sergeant, commissioned 1917 and killed 1918 as an acting Captain (from 1st Border Regt. to 11th.) or the man who was a Captain and adjutant of his battalion (South Staffords), who had already served in the Rhodesia Regiment in German South West who applied for a Regular commission in 1917 and was turned down through lack of formal education.  

    The historian McGregor Knox did a good article a few years back on how peacetime establishments that might take centuries of rule and regulation (and social snobbery) to achieve come to grief during a war with heavy casualties (His work was on the stock of German officers in the Second World War) . The same must, broadly, apply to the officer (and by extension to the NCO) stock of any Regular Army- the brutality of war kills off the seed corn of NCOs and officers who would be the seniors in the next decade or two.  BUT the requirement to at least try and maintain a "Regular" establishment during the war in the certainty that that the "British Army" would continue AND revert to peacetime establishments and routines must colour some of the info. about NCOs in the posts above. 

     I am no expert in these things (Obviously:wub:) but it seems to me that there might be some mileage in differences during the war in promotions on 2 grounds:

a) Whether the man was a Regular or not- the former would still be there at the end of a war, so promotions had to be considered with a view to "peacetime establishments" . The financial implications alone of a post-war battalion full of bemedalled sergeants must have been a concern to the War Office planners.  The Grenadier Guards, along with the other Guards regiments must have been a particular headache. The Guards have traditionally been used as a reservoir of NCOs in both world wars-to be drawn on to give some backbone to other,usually newly-formed, units (eg In the Second World War, the getting of Guards NCOs by "Boy" Browning-a Guardsman- to stiffen up The Parachute  Regiment)

    Quite how the British Army dealt with "Regulars" who went on to other battalions as NCOs must have been quite a problem at the end of the war. (And even more intriguing for the Brigade of Guards as one of the "permanent" changes of the war was the continuance of a new Guards regiment, the Welsh Guards-thus, the Guards had a slight advantage in maintaining Regulars as it had an extra regiment to do so)

b) Whether the battalions survived and,consequently, what became of their stocks of officers and NCOs, more particularly those who were Regulars. Am I right in thinking that in early 1918 with the army reorganizations  no Regular battalions were broken up???  

   It seems to Your Humble that a major fault-line-and consequent historical  research on surviving records, vis a vis the Guards in particular, is between the necessities of war in the front line -immediate with immediate  ad hoc solutions- versus the longer-term requirements to at least try and maintain the structures of a Regular Army both as it had been before 1914 and as it would have to be post 1918.

 

[ As an aside-and just as an observation:  My one GG casualty of the war .Aubrey  Walker, was killed in April 1916 as a private with 1st GG. He had no military background that I can find and before the war had been working as an accountant in the United States since at least 1903. He was born in 1877-so was 38/39 when killed. I have suggested before on GWF that the rush to the Colours in 1914 was not uniform-that some men, a few years older and "steadier"-responsible and sober jobs,etc- may have been earmarked for the cavalry (There is a recent thread on this by another-about policemen going to the Household Brigade)  It seems to me a possibility,at least, that in 1914 the Guards may have had the pick of such men-older and a bit more worldly wise- in the expectation that the Guards units would be raided for NCOs-either existing or from the pre-war stock of potentials. Just a thought.....)

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And very interesting musings.

One complication among many not addressed  is that "Peace establishment" was not only a moveable target, driven by budget as well as military necessity, and that the semi-constant Victorian Edwardian 1000 all ranks Colonial PE, and the [rarely achieved Home [I think c. 700]  was predicated on rifle and bayonet. It must have been obvious even in 1915 that battalion fire-power could be maintained with far fewer men.

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Very much agreed- and, of course, the  Regular Army that emerged at the end of the war was greatly different not only in composition and equipment  but also it's funding and administrative structure. I suppose the greatest change, from my non-expert eye, is that the Regular Army became in effect a cadre for a large scale war- that despite the "re-introduction" of conscription in 1939, it was an option knowingly factored in as a "given"-all those TA halls round the country etc.

   I think the most obvious point in all of this was illumined in the very last episode of "Blackadder" with the declaration-when the shelling stopped-"Hooray, we lived through the Great War of 1914-1917".  Yes, you hit the nail on the head regarding a change of roles but perhaps the most important thing about all these promotion changes and inconsistencies was that until the late autumn of 1918, no-one knew when the war was going to end. That there would have to be a peacetime army-yes- but how to plan for it and extract it from a larger corpus was something akin to having a Christmas  Moveable Mid-Winter Non-Denomination Snow-an-optional-extra Public Occasion Pudding and trying to extract the currants afterwards. The old adage of military doctrine about "plans" -assume that they will go completely wrong within the first  5 minutes must have made any pretence of consistency in selection for promotion, retention and "establishment" pretty much a hopeless task. And if no-one knew when the war was going to end, nor what state the army was in-let alone which personnel would still be standing, then it seems to me a bit like the old quote about women preaching- it is not a surprise it was done badly, it was surprise that it was done at all.

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grenadierguardsman

Posted (edited)

Reading this I believe Frogsmile has put a good case forward, in the opening post here. Having served in the Guards I know that certain ways of doing things and certain orders of dress, were completely different to the rest of the Army. Buff belts with No.2 dress and, not the belt that came with the 2 dress !? Stable belts/buff belts in barrack dress, and not the working belt that others wore ?! etc etc

Andy

Edited by grenadierguardsman
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40 minutes ago, grenadierguardsman said:

Reading this I believe Frogsmile has put a good case forward, in the opening post here. Having served in the Guards I know that certain ways of doing things and certain orders of dress, were completely different to the rest of the Army. Buff belts with No.2 dress and, not the belt that came with the 2 dress !? Stable belts/buff belts in barrack dress, and not the working belt that others wore ?! etc etc

Andy

 

.......... the same is true of many regiments Andy ......... the Grenadier Guards are not alone in any of the anomalies you mention here.

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Muerrisch

Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, grenadierguardsman said:

Reading this I believe Frogsmile has put a good case forward, in the opening post here. Having served in the Guards I know that certain ways of doing things and certain orders of dress, were completely different to the rest of the Army. Buff belts with No.2 dress and, not the belt that came with the 2 dress !? Stable belts/buff belts in barrack dress, and not the working belt that others wore ?! etc etc

Andy

 

Reading this I believe Frogsmile has put a good case forward, Agreed, but we interpret the evidence differently, and agree to disagree.

 

What is current or recent practice may or may not have anything to do with 110 years ago. Unlike others on the forum, I have had no direct military experience except 41 years attachment to the RAF, which I believe to be irrelevant.

 

"The past is a different country"..

 

Like anyone now on the forum writing about any topic of the Great War, I only have the evidence of photographs, anecdotes, regulations, war diaries and other period sources.

Because of my science and experimental training my preference is for primary material. The only valid assumption in each case, [to be tested against a primary source], is that the army obeyed orders.

 

I welcome original period evidence on the subject in hand, and retain an open mind, but I place no weight on post-Great War :

it is no more relevant than the Napoleonic period, and as distant in time exactly. Short of new evidence I prefer not to pursue the matter.

Edited by Muerrisch
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grenadierguardsman

Posted

On 07/12/2020 at 14:34, TullochArd said:

 

.......... the same is true of many regiments Andy ......... the Grenadier Guards are not alone in any of the anomalies you mention here.

Ok then, the Scots Guards don't were a chin strap on the forage.

Andy

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