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Remembered Today:

Inscriptions of Ranks vs Appointments


MBrockway
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Pals,

My understanding is that the Rank inscribed on the rim/reverse of the campaign medals was ...

1914 or 1914-15 Star: Rank held at time of entry into a Theatre of War

British War & Victory Medals: Rank held at the Armistice

Thus if a soldier went out to France in 1915 as a Private and ended the War as a Serjeant, his Star would be inscribed Pte and the other two Sgt.

My understanding is also that the Rank on 11 Nov 1918 had to be

  1. A Rank not an Appointment
  2. It had to be Substantive, not Acting, Temporary, Brevet, or Honourary etc.
This implies that a soldier who ended the War as a Lance Corporal would have his British War and Victory Medals inscribed Pte, as Lance Corporal is an Apointment not a substantive Rank.

Similarly a soldier who ended the War as an Acting Corporal (as in my grandfather's case) would have the two medals inscribed Pte.

Looking through past Topics on this here on the Forum though, I've found a few examples of trios with the Star inscribed to Private but the BWM and VM inscribed to Lance Corporal. Most were to Canadians, but there do seem to be some BEF examples.

Can the medals specialists give some guidance please?

With respect to gallantry awards, I assume the inscription would be the de facto Rank held at the time of the Action for which the gallantry medal was awarded regardless of the man's substantive Rank? So what would be the inscription for a substantive Captain who won the MC while a Temp Major/Acting Lt Col?

I have another thread active on a KRRC Lance Corporal who won the Military Medal. He went out as a Rifleman (i.e. Private) and the MIC for his campaign medals doesn't mention Lance Corporal. The National Archive MIC Index entry for the MM MIC has him down as Lance Corporal though (I haven't downloaded the actual MM MIC image), as do the London Gazette entry and various references in the KRRC Chronicle, so I assume the MM would be inscribed L.Cpl?

The family though are convinced the man was only ever a Private. They have his trio, but have lost his MM, so I think this is on the basis that all three medals of the trio will be inscribed Pte as discussed above, whereas my opinion is that the MM would have shown him as a Lance Corporal.

Again, guidance from the medal specialists very welcome here!

Also merely as an interesting supplementary, I assume that Serjeants in rifles regiments had their inscriptions as Sgt rather than Sjt along the same lines as Riflemen were inscribed Pte? [That analogy is is a little flawed though, as the rifles tradition is that every member of a rifles regiment is a Rifleman even if he was a full Colonel - Rifleman is more to mark out the distinctive rifles identity]

Thanks in advance

Cheers,

Mark

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Also merely as an interesting supplementary, I assume that Serjeants in rifles regiments had their inscriptions as Sgt rather than Sjt along the same lines as Riflemen were inscribed Pte? [That analogy is is a little flawed though, as the rifles tradition is that every member of a rifles regiment is a Rifleman even if he was a full Colonel - Rifleman is more to mark out the distinctive rifles identity]

Thanks in advance

Cheers,

Mark

Of course, neither Rifleman nor Guardsman were official designations for a Private in Rifles and Guards respectively .............. this change was post-war.

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M Brockway wrote:

My understanding is that the Rank inscribed on the rim/reverse of the campaign medals was ...

1914 or 1914-15 Star: Rank held at time of entry into a Theatre of War

British War & Victory Medals: Rank held at the Armistice

This is not correct. BWMs and VMs were named with the highest rank held in a theater of war. I have a number of cases of men who served in a theater of war as an OR, were sent home to a Cadet School and commissioned prior to the Armistice, but who never returned to a theater of war as an officer. Their VMs and BWMs are named to them as ORs. Regards, Dick Flory

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M Brockway wrote:

This is not correct. BWMs and VMs were named with the highest rank held in a theater of war. I have a number of cases of men who served in a theater of war as an OR, were sent home to a Cadet School and commissioned prior to the Armistice, but who never returned to a theater of war as an officer. Their VMs and BWMs are named to them as ORs. Regards, Dick Flory

Thanks for that Dick. Good clarification.

Here's the KRRC BW&VM roll entry for my grandfather, John Brockway, R/6479:

post-20192-1254058787.jpg

[Courtesy of Mike Shingleton (shinglma) for which I'm very grateful]

I assume his BWM and VM will be inscribed Pte since Acting Corporal is not a substantive Rank?

As far as I know, all his time was spent on active service in F&F except for several periods in Blighty recuperating from wounds. It seems likely he was an A/Cpl in a theatre of war.

We have located his medals within the family, but sadly I have not actually seen them yet.

Also can you give some advice on the entry for his service in 12/KRRC where he is listed as a Private.

Does this mean ...

  1. He held rank of Private when he entered 12/KRRC (as per the Star rolls); OR ...
  2. He held rank of Private when he left 12/KRRC; OR ...
  3. Private was the highest rank he held while in 12/KRRC
#3 is relevant as I have a photo of him from circa late 1916 as a Lance Corporal. If he never held a rank higher than Private while in 12/KRRC, then that's evidence that he was already in 16/KRRC when the photo was taken, which will help me date his transfer (and thus exactly which actions he was involved in 1917 and 1918!).

That said, L/Cpl is an Appointment not a Rank, so would he appear in the rolls as a Private even when he was already Lance Corporal? AAARRGGGHHH! :D

As you can tell, through frustration I'm getting increasingly devious at trying to pinpoint the exact date of his transfer between battalions!

All advice very welcome!

Cheers,

Mark

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  • 1 month later...

For officers this seems to be a bit Hit and miss as to which rank they had on their pair compared to what was on the MIC card .Too many of my officers are a rank up or down from what they should be and the medals are unique names and initials not split groups.IE MIC says 2/lt medals have LT and vice versa even with the little asterisk next to that rank that should be on them.I have found that the rank often goes by the army list and by the rank the officer had within say the next few months after the war .I know this is not the way its supposed to be but what i have experienced with my collection.Usually if officer x was a 2/lt on 11/11/18 and then was promoted on say 2 Jan 1919 to lt ,often (but not always)that will be the rank on the pair

regards

MC

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MC: One has to be careful if they are looking at only a few Army Lists for the period of the war. An officer may well have been a 2nd Lieutenant on 11 Nov 18 and not promoted to Lieutenant until 2 January 1919 and still correctly have the rank of 'Lieutenant' on his medals. This would be because he must have held the rank of acting or temporary lieutenant for a few months during the war and this would only show up on the Army Lists for the period that he held the acting or temporary rank. For example: Officer A is commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 15 March 1917 and goes to a theater of war in June 1917. While in a theater of war he is appointed an Acting Lieutenant from 25 December 1917 to 8 April 1918 and then reverts to his substantive rank of 2nd Lieutenant. On 2 January 1919 he is promoted to the substantive rank of Lieutenant. In this case his medals will bear the rank of Lieutenant but the Monthly Army Lists from 15 March 1917 to 24 December 1917 and from 9 April 1918 to 1 January 1919 will show him as a 2nd Lieutenant with a date of rank of 15 March 1917. Only the Monthly Army Lists from January 1918 to May 1918 will show his Acting Rank of Lieutenant. Hope this makes sense. Dick Flory

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Yes good point i only have the end of year army lists .It is very hard to check if officer A was acting higher or temp as the LG being an evil beast is very hard to drive and sometimes you cant find a temp promotion in it.The hit and miss bit ,every thing else aside was i have 2 gazetted temp promotions to majors and had major on MiC cards and Still both had Capt on the pair ,just mistakes ?? Yet that is what the army list had in it at end of 1918.Hence what i was basing my comment on

Thanks for the detailed reply

MC

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MC: If you could PM me the names of the two officers who were majors but are shown as captain on their medals I would be happy to see what I can find in my library that might answer your questions. Regards, Dick Flory

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Great thanks will do so ,will go and get the details on them and then PM

MC

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