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Guardsman or Private


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Having researched my uncle's army service and recently visited his grave at Lagincourt Hedge Cemetery, I am curious as to why all records including his death announcement in the local paper refers to him as a Private in the Welsh Guards, the head stone at the grave refers to him as a Guardsman in the Welsh Guards, could anyone shed any light on the difference. The same also applies to other Welsh Guards buried in the same cemetery.

A further query is in the local paper he was referred as being attached to the Welsh Guards, but no other regiment was mentioned, all letters we have refer to the Welsh Guards and photos show  him in the Welsh Guards Uniform.

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Not sure about the finer nuances of the rank but all WW1 medals I have seen to Guards units are named to Pte. or whatever & not to Guardsman. As to later use of the ranks, no idea.

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According to Wikipedia, the rank of Guardsman dates from 1920, when it was adopted in place of Private.  I'm not sure why the headstone ;in the cemetery would say Guardsman, however.  The stone may have dated from later than 1920 but I would have thought that the rank given would have been that held by the soldier at the time of his death rather than a retrospective rank.

 

I'm sure someone will be able to answer that.

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1 hour ago, 593jones said:

According to Wikipedia, the rank of Guardsman dates from 1920, when it was adopted in place of Private.  I'm not sure why the headstone ;in the cemetery would say Guardsman, however.  The stone may have dated from later than 1920 but I would have thought that the rank given would have been that held by the soldier at the time of his death rather than a retrospective rank.

 

I'm sure someone will be able to answer that.

 

These terms were 'regularised' in Army Order AO 222 of 1923 ....

5aea49463ebeb_RankofRifleman-AO2221923.jpg.7bce37e498599a02c6ad2883a250c14b.jpg

 

However all the CWGC headstones to the KRRC and Rifle Brigade of which I am aware use the term 'Rifleman' rather than 'Private' ... even though the designation was NOT official during the conflict.

 

See this topic for further info ...

 

 

 

Mark

 

 

 

 

Edited by MBrockway
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Not unusual to see guardsman on cwgc graves 

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44 minutes ago, Coldstreamer said:

Not unusual to see guardsman on cwgc graves 

How about medals Coldstreamer? 

 

All the rifles Great War campaign medals to rank Rifleman are inscribed 'Pte'.

 

The Star rolls for the 60th and the RB use 'Rfn', but the BWM and VM roll uses 'Pte'.

 

Are you seeing similar pattern in the Guards?

 

 

Incidentally, no Pal has so far turned up the exact wording of AO 160 of 1909 referred to above, but Craig found a reference suggesting it related to re-adoption of 'Trooper' for Cavalry of the Line.

 

The rifles QSA and KSA rolls all use 'Pte', so one assumes the different regimental traditions for the rank of Private were quoshed some time in the Victorian period.

 

Mark

 

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No medals I have  for ww1 say guardsman 

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1st LSGC medal awarded to rank of (coldstream) guardsman was Army order 305 of 1919

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Officialdom says one thing, certainly in the Rifle Brigade other ranks were and have always been called and known as Riflemen from the first day of the Regiment. The only time I have come across a soldier being called a Private was in 1807. So the officials might say one thing, but hey where would we be without officials eh!!

 

Andy

 

Attachment is from an old rifleman mobilised in August 1914, discharged March 1915 having served his term of engagement, on official papers.

 

miuk1914a_084118-02082.jpg

Edited by stiletto_33853
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The Rifle Brigade (formerly 95th Regiment of Foot) was taken out of the numbered line regiments in 1815 as an honour for their service during the Waterloo campaign.

"Private" RB soldiers were indeed referred to as "Rifleman" within the regiment as were those of the 60th Foot, The King's Royal Rifle Corps, although this was unofficial.  

However, what was "Official" and what the regiments did were not always the same. The KRRC kept the appointment of Colour Serjeant after they were styled as "Rifles" even though they no longer carried Colours and also maintained the spelling of Serjeant.

Many Territorial Force units that had previously been styled as Rifle Volunteers used the term "Rifleman" "Official" or not.

 

Edited by squirrel
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47 minutes ago, squirrel said:

The Rifle Brigade (formerly 95th Regiment of Foot) was taken out of the numbered line regiments in 1815 as an honour for their service during the Waterloo campaign.

 

Minor correction - the RB was taken out of the line in 1816, not 1815 ...

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/17115/page/405

 

Between 1816 and 1818 the title '95th Foot' was also used when the 96th Foot, a light infantry regiment raised in 1803, was "up-numbered" after the RB was honoured - see the LG linked above.  This new '95th Foot' was disbanded in 1818.

 

From 1823 the '95th Foot' was the newly raised Derbyshire Regt., which after 1881 was part of the Sherwood Foresters. 

 

Never simple eh?  :P

 

Mark

 

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True Mark, by an order from Horse Guards dated 16th February, 1816, the 95th was removed from the Regiments of the Line and styled "The Rifle Brigade"  The only time soldiers have been known as Privates was in 1807 and in 1800-01 when marksmen from other regiments joined from the 1st, 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th, 29th, 49th, 55th, 67th, 69th, 71st, 72nd, 79th, 85th & 92nd Regiments of the Line, those that were not sent back to their original Regiments (a majority) anyway for failing to meet the required standards after a stringent selection process overseen by Colonel Coote Manningham and Lt. - Col. The Hon. W. Stewart.:o

 

Colours what are they:D, isn't that a redcoat thing, to rally the troops on the battlefield.

 

Andy

Edited by stiletto_33853
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If you look at the "Grave Registration Reports" for the cemetery which are  dated August 1920 all those of the lowest rank from "Foot Guard" Regt's are listed as "Pte", that's also the same on the registers that include NOK entries and the online CWGC index.

 

This changes on the headstone register which lists them all as "Guardsman", sadly these aren't dated but I can only assume that the replacement of the original crosses with the headstones was post adoption of the rank of Guardsman.

 

Sam

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20 minutes ago, roughdiamond said:

If you look at the "Grave Registration Reports" for the cemetery which are  dated August 1920 all those of the lowest rank from "Foot Guard" Regt's are listed as "Pte", that's also the same on the registers that include NOK entries and the online CWGC index.

 

This changes on the headstone register which lists them all as "Guardsman", sadly these aren't dated but I can only assume that the replacement of the original crosses with the headstones was post adoption of the rank of Guardsman.

 

Sam

 

It was certainly my assumption that 'Rifleman' on rifles CWGC headstones was probably standardised as the crosses were gradually replaced during the 1920's onwards, but that's an assumption I have not investigated.

 

I have no evidence as to what was used on the original rifles grave markers etc. - the only photos I have of these are for officers - but the rifles regiments felt very strongly about this subject and I'd say it's likely that any markers erected at unit level during and immediately after the war would have used the designation 'Rifleman' in spite of officialdom!

 

Mark

 

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15 hours ago, MBrockway said:

 

It was certainly my assumption that 'Rifleman' on rifles CWGC headstones was probably standardised as the crosses were gradually replaced during the 1920's onwards, but that's an assumption I have not investigated.

 

I have no evidence as to what was used on the original rifles grave markers etc. - the only photos I have of these are for officers - but the rifles regiments felt very strongly about this subject and I'd say it's likely that any markers erected at unit level during and immediately after the war would have used the designation 'Rifleman' in spite of officialdom!

 

Mark

 

 

Mark 

Looking at Lagnicourt Hedge cemetery there are 2 X West Yorks, 1 X Rifle Bde and 1 X KRRC all listed on the 1920 Grave Registration Report as "Rfn", strangely there's another West Yorks man listed on the same report as "Pte", the 2 x Rfn are 2/8th, the Pte 12th, these ranks also carry over to the Headstone register, maybe the differentiation is the former are TF, the latter Service Bn's?

 

I also noticed a number of men from the SLI and KSLI who are listed as "Pte" on all Doc's, would I be right in saying these Regt's also adopted the Rfn rank post War?

 

Sam

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4 minutes ago, roughdiamond said:

 

Mark 

Looking at Lagnicourt Hedge cemetery there are 2 X West Yorks, 1 X Rifle Bde and 1 X KRRC all listed on the 1920 Grave Registration Report as "Rfn", strangely there's another West Yorks man listed on the same report as "Pte", the 2 x Rfn are 2/8th, the Pte 12th, these ranks also carry over to the Headstone register, maybe the differentiation is the former are TF, the latter Service Bn's?

 

I also noticed a number of men from the SLI and KSLI who are listed as "Pte" on all Doc's, would I be right in saying these Regt's also adopted the Rfn rank post War?

 

Sam

 

8/West Yorks were the old Leeds Rifles and were one of the TF formations that carried forward rifles traditions (wore rifle green in full dress, blackened buttons, rifles drill etc.) into their TF incarnations.

 

Compare the Robin Hoods Rifles, the Isle of Wight Rifles, the Liverpool Rifles, some of the London Regt battalions, etc.

 

12/West Yorks were a vanilla line infantry battalion.

 

However the vast majority of the TF battalions attached to county line regiments went into redcoats after the Cardwell/Childers reforms and did not carry rifles traditions forward.

 

SLI and KSLI are Light Infantry rather than Rifles, so would not have used 'Rifleman'.  Ironically most of the modern descendants of the LI regiments are now in The Rifles, where of course the private soldiers are designated as 'Rifleman'.

 

To further muddy the waters, there were some individual TF battalions in the Light Infantry regiments who did carry forward rifles traditions from their Rifle Volunteer origins in the manner described above and I suspect would have used the designation 'Rifleman' - e.g. 6th Bn, Durham LI.  6/DLI certainly used blackened rifles buttons and a blackened version of the DLI cap badge.

 

AFAIK, the SLI and KSLI had no such battalions, but a Light Bobs specialist would be needed to confirm this.

 

With Rifles, nothing is ever straightforward!  :D

 

Mark

 

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Using the case of the Pte/GDSM example in my post #13, It seems to suggest the 4 men listed as Rfn on the Grave Registration Report from 1920 would have been shown as that rank on their original wooden crosses.

 

Sam

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A cursory, and I stress 'cursory', skip through the registers for Guards cemeteries is not furTher illuminating.  There are Privates and Guardsman, all killed on the same day/in the same engagement.  I can see how a drip feed of Guardsman onto headstones, during replacement, might work.  I am a bit no plus though as to why the CWGC Di not, at the stroke of a few keys, turn Privates of the Guards into Guardsmen?  Or did they consider the power of such a move to distract and confuse us??

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On a similar note I have come across the ranks of GNR (Gunner), BDR (Bombardier) and DVR (Driver)in the RFA plus RFN (Rifleman) in the NZ Rifle Brigade. All these are equivalent to rank of Private with the exception of Bombardier which is equivalent to Corporal.

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A lot of ground covered in this old topic may be of interest.

 

 

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Whilst drifting onto the subject of what happens when a replacement headstone is erected is the matter of the RFC/RAF - I have seen a not inconsiderable number of headstones that have an RAF cap badge when the man concerned was dead prior to 1 April 1918.

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Not to mention 'Royal' Army Service Corps for ASC chaps who died prior to that outfit's ennoblement. I also, some years ago, saw a King's Regiment grave from 1916 on the Somme marked with the post-war badge with the Olde English script on the scroll.

 

Oh, and can we bring 'Private' and 'Trooper' in Line cavalry into the discussion?

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1 hour ago, Steven Broomfield said:

Not to mention 'Royal' Army Service Corps for ASC chaps who died prior to that outfit's ennoblement. I also, some years ago, saw a King's Regiment grave from 1916 on the Somme marked with the post-war badge with the Olde English script on the scroll.

 

Oh, and can we bring 'Private' and 'Trooper' in Line cavalry into the discussion?

 

By all means!

 

'Trooper' was included in Army Order AO 222 of 1923 ....

5aea49463ebeb_RankofRifleman-AO2221923.j

In the topic I linked out to above, we speculated that AO 160 of 1909 related specifically to the use of 'Trooper'.

 

If anyone can get hold of this AO and post it here, it could be very useful to Steven's query.

 

Mark

 

 

Edited by MBrockway
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1 hour ago, MBrockway said:

 

 

 

If anyone can get hold of this AO and post it here, it could be very useful to Steven's query.

 

Mark

 

 

 

Thanks, Mark. I was actually being a little ironic, as the Trooper/Private debate rumbles on and on, despite having been cleared-up several times. I suspect part of the problem was with the Yeomanry, who appeared to use 'Trooper' in the same way the TF appear to have used 'Rifleman'. Because they could!

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AO 222 of 1923 refersr to cavalry of the line, what, then, would a private in the Household Cavalry be known as?

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