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Guest Chris Wallis

Why Serjeant?

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Guest Chris Wallis

Hello everyone;

Can anyone tell me why sometimes Serjeant (with J) is used as oposed to the more common Sergeant (with G)?

Regards

Chris W.

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burlington

Chris

This is the previous spelling of the rank.

There is a thread about this on the Forum. I suggest you do a search.

Martin

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sandyford

Hello Chris

I have previously seen the discussions about serjeant/sergeant on the forum but when I put the word serjeant into the search every post which contained the word serjeant came up, several pages of threads. So it was quite difficult to find the relevant discussion.

Martin - Thanks for that explanation of these two spellings.

Because I entered soldiers into my database, first from the War Diary monthly casualty lists (which lists the soldiers as 'Sgt.', and then from SDGW (which also lists the rank as 'Sgt.'), I have used the Sgt. form throughout.

I will be easily able to substitute Sjt. if this is more correct, but if a contemporary writing like the War Diary uses Sgt. would this form be correct.

Kate

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gem22

Chris

The use of a g or j when spelling 'sergeant' is quite confusing. The Oxford English Dictionary shows examples of "sergeant' dating back 800 years. It also shows examples where the letter 'i' is used.

In the book ' With Kitchener to Khartoum' the letter 'g' is used. Wellington in his despatches used 'j'. but Whittakers Almanac of 1901 uses 'g'.

I think it comes down to either personal preference or possibly even regimental history.

The use of the letter 'j' would appear to be more correctly used when referring to certain legal/judiciary positions, but it has been regularly used by the military.

Basically I don't think it matters; unless, of course, you are writing a book and it becomes a matter of style.

Garth

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sandyford

Garth

Like you I didn't think it mattered, which is why, even though I was aware of the Sjt./Sgt. issue, I didn't do anything about it.

But, lots of us are compiling information about various units, which we want to be accurate and correct, even if they are not for publication in print.

This forum seems to be a good place to ask for opinions about these matters, even if we find that there is not a definitive answer.

The regimental tradition and the fact that there might be differing practices, is an aspect I hadn't considered.

Kate

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dycer

Kate,

I'm not sure that Regimental tradition could always be the answer.

For example the CWGC records my Uncle's rank as Sjt but the Battalion use Sgt when referring to ranks.

George

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sandyford

George

Yes. The CWGC (usually the source I trust the most), records Sjt. and so does the MIC online.

I presume their medals were marked Serjeant or Sjt. I have not seen a medal to a sergeant/serjeant so cannot confirm this.

Quite an issue for pedants like me, but probably the least of the concerns of a person commemorated by the CWGC.

Kate

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gem22
Yes. The CWGC (usually the source I trust the most), records Sjt. and so does the MIC online.

Kate

The CWGC also uses the letter 'g'. Have a look at entries for Commonwealth troops. I found entries for Australian and Canadian troops using Sergeant. Then I was totally bemused by a Canadian Company Quartermaster Serjeant.

Garth

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dycer

Kate,

It so happens that said Uncle's Medals are in his "Princess Mary Box" at Home.

I'll check over the weekend and let you know.

Not sure who is right. Personally I would say Regiment takes precedence over CWGC when it comes to the spelling of Ranks.

We have discussed the spelling before and never came up with a definitive answer.Possibly there is some reason for the CWGC(and MIC) using Sjt but this has been lost over time.

George

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sandyford

The dictionaries are not much help to us.

Most of mine say 'serjeant see sergeant' They go on to say that sergeant is derived from the latin for 'to serve'. a bit like servant. ( I think the Latin verb was something like 'serviere') and the 'i' may have become 'j', which would go with Martin's 'previous spelling' explanation of serjeant.

They then say that the word sergeant is used for a non commissioned officer in the Army

but there can also be

Serjeant at law, who attends the Lord Chancellor, and various other legal definitions.

So - I will hold off on the 'Find & Replace' for the moment.

It will be really interesting to see which form is on your Uncle's medals, George.

Kate

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Guest

My dad's Soldier's Release Book issued January 1946 has "Sjt" in entries made in his last unit in East Africa and "Sgt" in the entry made in the Army Dispersal Unit in Guildford. So, this dual spelling continued well after WWI.

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sandyford

Sergeant angie999

That is interesting information from a much later date.

Curiouser and curiouser

Chris - I am glad you opened this topic.

Kate

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Arnie

Hi

The KOYLI used 'Serjeant' right up to 1968 and the custom was carried on until recently in the 2nd Light Infantry.

The regimental book on customs said some thing to the effect that Serjeant was from Serjeant at Arms and was in use through out the army until WW1 when some TF units used a 'g' and this custom was copied.

Arnie

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dycer

Kate,

Not a surprise.

Medals are stamped Sjt.

George

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Terry Denham

The convention used by CWGC in their 'style' manual approved by the military is as follows....

1) The spelling 'serjeant' is to be used for all UK and New Zealand casualties up to November 1953 (except for a small number of later Non-World War Graves in CWGC Care, this is, therefore, for most entries including all War Graves).

2) The spelling 'sergeant' is to be used for all other Commonwealth forces. Any use of 'serjeant' for these nations is an error.

The date change is obviously an 'official' one as members have cited later use of 'serjeant' by some units.

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dycer

Terry,

Thank you for the clarification.

It would be interesting to find out why the UK/NZ "Authorities" agreed on Sjt when the Regiments continued to record Sgt.

I assume,though, the reason was extremely valid and it seems pointless now to try and reverse a decision that was made many years ago.I won't mention the cost!

George

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Terry Denham

The decision would have been made for the sake of uniformity and (I am told) 'historical correctness'..

Also, use by a regiment may not indicate 'official' acceptance by the War Office/MoD. Regiments have their traditions and customs! I suspect that the spelling officially always should have been 'serjeant'.

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sandyford

Right.

'Find and replace' it is.

I'm going with the CWGC, MICs and George's Uncle's medals.

Thank you for persevering with Chris's question.

Kate

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Terry Denham

Just spoken to CWGC again about this and they are going to correct the many errors amongst the Canadian 'company quartermaster serjeants' etc - corrected to 'g'.

There is an explanation of how these occured but it is too long and uninteresting to repeat here!

Forgot to say - RAF should be with a 'j' for WW1 and 'g' for WW2.

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Guest Dewy

I was under the impression that the 2 forms of the word were just a spelling error although I am probable wrong.

My grandfather had 3 tankards, including his own, as he was the sole survivor of 3 sergeants in the 7th battalion Royal fusiliers.

These tankards had sergeant & serjeant engraved along with the names.

In my childhood I looked at the tankards and always wondered why they had different spellings on them.

My grandmother gave me all 3 tankards shortly before her death as I had always shown great respect for my grandfathers souvenirs.

Unfortunately many things disappeared when I moved to Soth Africa in the early 70s and the tankards were what I regretted losing more than anything else.

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Guest Recceman

The debate still goes on. Sandhurst has a Serjeants' Mess, full of Colour Sergeants! :)

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