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Remembered Today:

What rank is this?


shinglma
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I'm researching some soldiers and came across one HJ Dowthwaite whose rank is given on

CWGC as sub-conductor.

He is a member of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. Can anyone point me in the right direction for a definition of this rank?

Mike S

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Both Conductor & Sub-Conductor A.O.C. are Warrant ranks within that Corps, but the rank of Sub-Conductor was open to appointment to Warrant Officers and N.C.O.'s of all arms, but not below the rank of staff sergeant, and not just from the A.O.C..

The Conductor is listed as the Senior Warrant Officer in the British Army, ranking above the Master Gunner 1st Class. The Sub-Conducor is ranked below a Staff Sergeant Major, but above a Submarine-mining Storekeeper Sergeant Major.

Graham.

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See John McKenzie, 'The Honourable & Ancient Appointment Of Conductor' in Crown Imperial (March 1998):

"The earliest record of the office of Conductor is contained in the Statute of Westminster of 1327 whereby King Edward III decreed that the wages of Conductors (conveyors) of soldiers from the Shires to the place of Assembly, would no longer be a charge upon the Shire. ...

"When the Land Transport Corps was re-organised in 1856, Conductors were included in the establishment. When expeditions were formed for China and New Zealand in 1860, Sergeants were appointed from the Royal Artillery (RA) and other Regiments as Conductors under the Military Stores Officer. However, these were found to be untrained and inexperienced in the duties required of them. Because of this, it was decided in 1862 to send five Sergeants of the RA and two Sergeants of the Royal Engineers (RE) to the Tower and Pimlico to learn the work. They were to be held as supernumerary there for from three to five years before being relieved, so that a skilled nucleus of staff might be built up ready for war.

"Conductors became a recognised military rank, when in 1879 a Royal Warrant decreed that Conductors of Supplies be appointed to the Commissariat and Transport Corps and Conductors of Stores be appointed to the Ordnance Store Corps (OSC). Their position in the Army was to be as junior officers, 'inferior to that of all commissioned officers and superior to that of all non-commissioned officers'. From 1881 to 1888 both Corps also had 1st Class Staff Sergeants who were next junior to Conductor.

"In 1889 The Commissariat and Transport Corps was re-titled the Army Service Corps and Conductors of Supplies and of Stores were re-titled Conductors ASC and Conductors OSC respectively. Henceforth they were to be Regimental WO's senior to all other WO's and NCO's. At the same time the title of 1st Class Staff Sergeant was changed to Staff Sergeant Major (SSM) for both the ASC and OSC. In 1892 the title Conductor ASC was abolished and replaced by SSM 1st Class ASC, leaving only the Conductor OSC.

"In 1896 the OSC was re-titled Army Ordnance Corps (AOC), the title of SSM OSC was altered to Sub-Conductor AOC. Thus the appointment of Conductor was originally used by both the ASC and OSC and was the senior Warrant rank in the Army."

Useful stuff, you'll agree ...

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Both Conductor & Sub-Conductor A.O.C. are Warrant ranks within that Corps, but the rank of Sub-Conductor was open to appointment to Warrant Officers and N.C.O.'s of all arms, but not below the rank of staff sergeant, and not just from the A.O.C..

The Conductor is listed as the Senior Warrant Officer in the British Army, ranking above the Master Gunner 1st Class. The Sub-Conducor is ranked below a Staff Sergeant Major, but above a Submarine-mining Storekeeper Sergeant Major.

Graham.

I think you will find the appointments in the most senior category are bracketed, and 'conductor' is alphabetically at the top. For example, see KR 1912 amended to 1914. The group bracketed within (i) is clearly alphabetical. The existence of the bracket can surely only mean equality. There has long been a dispute about the absolute seniority of conductors but, certainly in period, I regard it as 'not proven'. Jumping back [although as you know I have interim KR and QVR] to 1889 the three bracketed as category 1. are explained thus: 'those bracketed together rank with one another according to the dates of promotion or appointment'.

The conductor controversy rumbles alive from time to time even now!

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Thanks to you all for the replies and apologies for not having responded sooner. My computer hard drive died a couple of days ago and I have been out of action ever since.

The soldier in question can be found here.

Regards

Mike Shingleton

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  • 1 month later...

I have the impression that the claim that Conductors have precedence over all other WO I is historically spurious. I may be adding petrol to the fire, but here goes.

QR 1881 [the first that I have after 1879] does not give a precedence table, but para 70 says Conductors are senior to 'all non commissioned officers not being warrant officers' [in these early days, as para 68 says, NCO included warrant officers].

QR 1883 makes no comment on precedence of WO, but does so in detail for NCO, now defined as Master Gunner 3rd class and below.

QR 1885 para 116A gives precedence for all WO and NCO, brackets Conductors ASC and OSC with Master Gunner 1st class, and specifically says 'those bracketed together rank with one another according to dates of promotion or appointment'. The order of the three is alphabetical, of course.

QR 1889 para 18 repeats the above.

QR 1892 para 26 repeats the above

QR 1896 is even more specific: para 34 says those bracketed together rank with one another according to dates of promotion and appointment, and, as if to underline the fact, bracket Conductor AOC, Master Gunner 1st class, and Staff Sgt Major 1st class together with a note 'arranged alphabetically'.

QR 1898 and 1899 make the same point, and the only change by 1914 is that a schoolmaster, when a 1st class WO, has been added to the list, still with a note about ranking and alphabetical order.

My collection then peters out , but KR 1923 para 248 and KR 1940, whilst dropping the 'schooly', maintain the same point about precedence.

If it is generally accepted currently that the Conductor is 'first among equals', it is probably because it has been said so often that people believe it, despite all the historical evidence.

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