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Remembered Today:

CSM - Sir or Sarge?


Private Butler
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Would a CSM, during the GW, be addressed by his inferiors with a standard Sergeant, or would it be Sir? Were CSM's classed as officers or were they NCOs? I understand that it may have been different depending on the unit but I'm particularly interested in the general level of difference shown to a CSM opposed a normal sergeant?

Thanks.

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Abraham Butler,

Here's my shot at this; happy to be corrected. Others, particularly previous or present holders of the rank (never held by me other than in the CCF), may improve on this effort

A Company Sergeant Major is an appointment rather than a rank. The normal rank of the holder of the appointment would be that of Warrant Officer Class 2. The appointment of Regimental Sergeant Major is held by a Warrant Officer Class 1. A Warrant Officer holds his (or, today, his/her) rank through a Warrant from the Sovereign, I think through the Secretary of State for Defence whose signature appears on the Warrant. A commissioned officer receives a commission from the Sovereign endorsed with a facsimile of her signature. Edward VII was the last monarch to sign commissions personally and then not throughout his reign.

A Warrant Officer is not, therefore, commissioned but is distinguished from the sergeantry and I think none would regard themselves at NCOs. Warrant Officers in WW1 were, for instance, entitled to the award of the Military Cross, otherwise awarded only to commissioned officers. Their accommodation is normally the Warrant Officers' and Sergeants' Mess if I recall rather than the shortened "Sergeants' Mess"

In general, depending on the regiment (there are all sorts of differing traditions for who can use "RSM" or "Regimental Sergeant Major"), officers and other warrant officers would address you as Mr Brown or Sergeant Major, Colour/Staff Sergeants and below would generally refer to you as 'Sir' or I suppose if trying to attract the attention of a particular CSM in a group (is this a 'stick' of sergeant majors?) one might try "Mr. Brown, Sir!". "Sarge" would be be an option taken by none but the suicidal. You would be pushing your luck trying "Sarge" on a Sergeant, in my opinion

At the beginning of WW1, there was only one warrant officer per infantry battalion (I don't think there were any other clerical or technical appointments in a battalion with the rank but the bandmaster might have been a WO1) and he was THE Sergeant Major. The introduction of the four (double) company organization from the older eight small companies, brought about the need for another tier of warrant officer in the infantry.

Ian

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Sergeant Major.

Just seen Ians post, all true, except NCOs and ORs would call him Sergeant Major, Sir still being reserved for officers.

Alan

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Sergeant Major.

Just seen Ians post, all true, except NCOs and ORs would call him Sergeant Major, Sir still being reserved for officers.

Alan

Alan,

My own recollection of the army (working in both regular and territorial units) of the 60's to 90's was that most NCOs/ORs (regular and territorial alike) would generally use 'Sir' to a WO2 unless they were trying to speak to (say) a CSM in a group of other high heidions (excuse my spelling) although certainly "Sergeant Major" was used also. I think the difference might be in part whether the OR was approaching the CSM or whether he was responding to an instruction/order. It is my clear recollection that 'Sir' was not reserved for officers ... I am preparing to eat my own words but I don't think so. The story of the RMA Sandhurst Sergeant Major (possibly in this case the Academy Sergeant Major himself) addressing officer cadets at the outset of their journey to the Field Marshal's baton, "I call you 'Sir' and you call me 'Sir' but only one of us means it" springs to mind.

To bed ...

Ian

Ian

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CSM and RSM is Sir or Ma'am to anyone below the rank of 2nd Lt, 2nd Lts or above may call him/her Sarn't Major ( or Mr ). I'm not sure what army you lot are talking about. And never ever use the term 'sarge'. Corps might be allowed depending on the corporals mood.

Mick

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Just a tiny window of opportunity for a pedant.

From October 1913 to May 1915, infantry CSMs were senior colour sergeants appointed to be CSM and badged as a CSgt, paid a few pence more.

So for a fraction of our period, 'Sir' would be inappropriate EXCEPT THAT in some regiments and in some situations the senior NCO on parade was always 'Sir'. Remember 'Zulu'? CSgt Bourne rebukes a man, and says to say 'Sir!': officer on parade'. Mysteries indeed.

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God-so-help the man who dared to call my Squadron Sergeant Major "Sergeant". (That said, there was a tradition that the PSI (Permanent Staff Instructor) Staff Sergeant from the 16th/5th Queen's Royal Lancers was always referred to as "Sergeant Major" and he got very sniffy if you didn't). Once rank was on the shoulders, WO2s were "Sergeant Major" (rarely if ever Mr..) and the RSM was "Mr...."

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Many years ago when I were a lad in the Army Cadet Force, attached to a TA Unit, I sometimes called the WO1 Permanent Staff Instructor, 'Dad'. but only at home.

Tony P

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Abraham, you've got me squirming with embarrasement now!

Remember Billets, last month? I don't know what I don't know :wacko: and I really picked "Sir" as the way the corporal should address whoever was leading the march because I couldn't decide which grade of officer would have been in charge and I thought this would cover any officer.

Oh boy, how wrong can you be!

:blush: There's always more research to do. Thank you for asking such an interesting question.

Regards

CGM

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Oh Boy: the errors in Zulu!

But a cracking good adventure film.

Whereas Zulu Dawn much more accurate but flat, in my opinion.

And not just because we got shafted either!

Fortunately one of my big heroes, Smith-Dorrien, escaped the slaughter, to be the saviour of the army at le Cateau, even if he did put French's nose out of joint more than a little.

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Many thanks to all concerned for the replies. I was under the impression (now it's easy for him to say that I hear you say <_< ) that a CSM was a higher rank than a sergeant but still wasn't sure whether they were regarded as officers as opposed NCOs. I figured that given that sections could be led by corporals/sergeants and thus the platoons themselves by subalterns, and company by a captain that a CSM working, obviously, at company level might well be considered sir, but I wasn't sure and as one poster has suggested, when I tried to find out I was led into the abyss of individual regimental protocol.

One other question though, I presume that, despite the essential work he carried out for the company, a CSM was still lower than a subaltern in terms of rank?

No worries CGM, I nearly called you CSM, many are the times when I have asked someone to relinquish me of my temporary ignorance, brought about mainly by curiosity - glad to have cleared that up for you via the responses of others.

Thanks again GWF...

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you might get two different answers!

In a tight spot, I rather think I would turn to the CSM,

but technically the subaltern is the senior.

I recall that the RSM of 2nd RWF, after promotion in the field to a combatant commission [not QM] in October 1914, was less than delighted at his perceived fall from grace.

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Always call the CSM "God".

The "Bloke" will accept "Sir" but he knows you're addressing the CSM. :lol:

Or it was in my days,RSM's due to the nature of their Rank,actually "walk on water".

George

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Then you have the question, if he isn't wearing a cap badge is he 'Staff' or 'Colour'.

Mick

(That is of course Staff or Colour Sergeants)

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Had to bump this with a further query.

I'm thinking about a new draft of men being trained at home. Would this be the job of a CSM, along with subalterns and a captain? I'm thinking of new drafts for a particular regiment being trained as individual companies? Or would it have been a different set-up. He could have been a conscript but I'm assuming that he wasn't and that he knew which regiment he would be joining.

Let's take an example - I have a chap who arrived as a draft with 17th London's in France in mid-September 16'. He was trained around Hatfield/Watford before and though the CSM would have a part to play in their training I presume he wouldn't have left with these new drafts? What about NCOs? I presume that corporals/sergeants (not CSM's!) would also have been there only for the training period too? When arriving in France as new drafts they would have been channeled into whatever companies the CO thought fit?

Cheers and appreciate the slight change of focus.

;)

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And never ever use the term 'sarge'.

Old Corporals and old Captains get away with using "Sarge", and others only at their peril, especially if the Sergeant Major overhears.

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Oh Boy: the errors in Zulu!

But a cracking good adventure film.

Whereas Zulu Dawn much more accurate but flat, in my opinion.

And not just because we got shafted either!

Fortunately one of my big heroes, Smith-Dorrien, escaped the slaughter, to be the saviour of the army at le Cateau, even if he did put French's nose out of joint more than a little.

on the subject of errors in zulu, and the topic in thread. the col sjt bourne was depicted as a fairly mature man, when in reality he was only 23 or 24 years old at the time. his subornates used to call him 'sonny jim' [behind his back of course]. this is taken from his own writing of the time .

mike.

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Old Corporals and old Captains get away with using "Sarge", and others only at their peril, especially if the Sergeant Major overhears.

'Sarge, Sarge!, there's only two types of sarge in the British Army, Saussarge and messarge' or so I was told!!

The WO2 who holds the appointment CSM is 'sir' to all other WO2s (except those that held appointments at Bn level) and all others below the rank of WO2. He was 'CSM' to the RSM, and all commissioned ranks.

Thanks

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Thanks

You're welcome. My 30 years in uniform have also shown that real life and regulations sometimes diverge.

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You're welcome. My 30 years in uniform have also shown that real life and regulations sometimes diverge.

Pah!, 30 years - 34 and still serving, you sprog!! :D

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