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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Addressing an Officer


dobbin

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I want to correctly describe the rank of an officer in this case Honorary Lt Quartermaster R L Masters R A M C MC whose retired rank was Captain. As I am writing about him I want to make sure that the heading with his name is correctly put ie what comes first and last or in other words in which order the items should be put. Thanks Colin

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Hello Colin

Judging by the Pay Warrant, the correct description seems to be:

Quartermaster and Honorary Lieutenant R L Masters RAMC.

In practice, the simple Lieutenant R L Masters would probably be sufficient, after the first reference, although once you start on his post-retirement career Captain Masters would be appropriate. It was not unusual for officers to be given retired rank one grade higher, as in this case, and I think it still happens today.

Ron

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Can you enlarge on the Honorary bit of this chaps rank. Assuming there was nothing special about RAMC QMs, I would have thought he started his service in the ranks and would have been appointed QM and been commissioned after some years of service. By the way, I think the fashion of granting higher rank on retirement stopped a long time ago.

Old Tom

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Thank you Ron and Tom for your replies. Tom to answer your question yes he started out a regular soldier enlisting in 1887 served in The Sudan and The Boer War and finished his service in 1909 with the rank of Staff Sergeant. He was either recalled which seems most likely or re enlisted in August 1914 when he became Honorary Lt Quartermaster in The RAMC in which he had served as a regular. I don't know when this awarding a higher rank on discharge ended but I served in The RAF and it existed there I seem to remember but it does not seem long ago to me but with advancing years the past does not seem so far back as I suppose it is. As I have written up his Military career I thought I should at least refer to him correctly. Of course everyone knew him as Captain Masters. The Honorary bit seems to be connected with the fact that medical types weren't actually engaged in fighting or perhaps it was because at the time to be seen to promote an Ordinary Rank to an officer was still not quite so acceptable in 1914 so perhaps it just meant he was being allowed into the club as it were as an honour I have never really known why. I was also thinking about the M C bit and wondering whether it was

R A M C., M.C. or M.C., R A M C. This honorary title I have seen elsewhere so if anyone can enlighten me please do. Colin

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Colin

Daggers is right. Decorations come immediately after the surname and before the regiment or corps.

The position as regards honorary rank is rather murky. Quartermasters of all corps, not just RAMC, were commissioned as such but granted an honorary rank alongside. This could advance according to length of service but was mainly to give the QM definite precedence within his unit and as a grading for allowances purposes. It also applied to riding-masters and directors of music.

Officers of some corps, other than quartermasters, were also given honorary rank for the same reason, Chaplains being the most obvious example, but it also applied to some of the old Commissariat and Ordnance branches, who were also promoted from the ranks. Even in the RAMC, the substantive rank of an officer above the rank of Colonel was Surgeon-General, although this was changed during the war and they were made Major-Generals.

Old Tom

My only evidence as to the survival of the practice of giving officers one rank higher on retirement was anecdotal, relating to a certain Major X who, I was told, had only been a captain in a certain regiment before he retired. It was said in a disparaging way so it may not have been strictly true! I also know of an officer who retired as Major Y although he had served in an appointment carrying the rank of lieutenant-colonel. If the practice had continued, I would have expected him to be granted Lt-Col (retired).

Ron

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Terry thanks for pointing out that I had asked questions about R L Masters in 2007 to which Stebie kindly replied. I do keep copies of all postings I don't think there was any mention on that one which would answer my question I am now asking about the order in which one places the MC ie before or after RAMC so please forgive me for asking this question if I am in error. Thank you Ron, Tom and Daggers for your replies. Colin

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