Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Rank of CO for infantry?


Muskoka

Recommended Posts

What rank of officer would an infantry private have considered his CO?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As Greenwoodman says, the battalion commander would normally be a Lt Col, though lower ranks, particularly major, could fill the role, usually on a temporary basis. I found that "CO" normally referred to the battalion commander and "OC" to the company commander. I don`t recall platoon commander being abbreviated at all. Phil B

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you both. Let me elaborate a bit on this as I want to get it right for the novel. If a private were being threatened with court martial by his superior officer, would it be his platoon commander?

Gabriele

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suppose, in theory, it could be anyone but more likely higher than platoon commander - say company commander? Phil B

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Phil. What would the company commander's rank normally be?

Gabriele

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks again, Phil. :)

Gabriele

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gabriele,

A soldier could, in effect, be charged of an offence by a number of individuals more senior to him - from SNCO to general. The nature of the offence would determine whether or not it was dealt with by a court martial. Less serious offences could be dealt with by the individuals chain of command - from platoon commander to CO.

Roxy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As Roxy says, a soldier could be threatened with court martial by anyone of higher rank. A soldier could be tried by a senior officer, generally a company commander or higher, without the case going to a court martial. A case can start in this way and end up as a court martial. The officer who tries the case may feel he has insufficient power to deal with it, i.e. sentencing power, or the soldier can refuse to accept the verdict of the officer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Viscount Slim in his book 'Unofficial History' when writing of his experiences as an infantry officer in the trenches suggests that in many regiments attempts were made ,as far as possible, to avoid courts martial and keep the dealing of the offence 'in the family'. This was partly a matter of regimental pride and partly the practical issue that a conviction by a court martial often meant the offender disappearing off to the harsh conditions but safety of a military prison leaving his comrades to face the enemy.

Slim has an account of one of his soldiers who, during the war had committed numerous offences when out of the line, that Slim had some how managed to save from the possibilty of many courts martial. After the war Slim was walking down a street in London when a car came roaring round a corner and then suddenly braked to a halt on seeing Slim. His old 'bat hat' soldier stuck his head out the window to say something like "Glad to see you're looking well Sir, Can't stop" before roaring off down the street. Just then two police cars bells clanging (it was the 1920s) came round the ame corner in hot pusuit of the man who had just done a smash and grab raid on a London jewelers. As one of Kipling's soldiers remarks "well single men in barracks aint no plaster saints"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No NCO or Officer would ever 'threaten' a Pte soldier with a court martial. You either do it or you don't.

Mick

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Although thats the British Army...absolutely no idea what goes on in the rest of the world.

Mick

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The system was like this:

Offence committed - soldier appears in front of his Company Commander, who held the rank of Major or Captain. If the offence was too serious for him to deal with, the case would be remitted to the Commanding Officer of the battalion who was normally a Lt Colonel

In front of the CO - The CO would review the charge and decide whether it was within his remit to deal with the case or if it would have to go to a higher court. In the case of the man's CO dealing with it, it was referred to as a Regimental Court Martial.

CO cannot deal with it - the case papers are sent to the Judge Advocate General. The JAG would then decide whether the case would be heard by a District Court Martial, or a General or a Field General Court Martial.

The Regimental and District CM's dealt with relatively minor matters whose powers of punishment were limited, whilst the General and Field General CM's dealt with serious matters such as desertion and murder ect. The latter two had wide ranging powers which included the death penalty.

Terry Reeves

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would have said that the Lt-Col commanding the battalion was seen as the CO.

'The Commanding Officer' was used for the man in charge of the unit, where 'unit' is battalion or cavalry regiment.

The man commanding a subset of a unit was an 'Officer Commanding' that subset.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

QUOTE (Phil_B @ May 6 2007, 02:40 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Major, though Captain wouldn`t be unusual in wartime. Phil B

Sorry, I have to disagree: occasionally a major commanded a company, but, as there were four companies and often only one or two majors [the senior to be 'senior major' or 2 i/c, there were few majors commanding companies even in peacetime.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was not unusual in the later stages of the war for companies to be commanded by Lieutenants, espeically once the battalion had been in action for a day or so.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Major, though Captain wouldn`t be unusual in wartime. Phil B

Sorry, I have to disagree: occasionally a major commanded a company, but, as there were four companies and often only one or two majors [the senior to be 'senior major' or 2 i/c, there were few majors commanding companies even in peacetime.

I go with Grumpy. A major would command a half battalion, if such a formation was acting together.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was not unusual in the later stages of the war for companies to be commanded by Lieutenants, espeically once the battalion had been in action for a day or so.

It was not unusual earlier in the war either. After First Ypres some the remnants of companies (and I recall reading even battalions) were commanded by serjeants. That is after battle though, not the 'normal' structure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you both. Let me elaborate a bit on this as I want to get it right for the novel. If a private were being threatened with court martial by his superior officer, would it be his platoon commander?

Gabriele

I can only repeat my point...the question isn't about the court martial process its about a private being threatened with a court martial. I Can only repeat my point...no nco or officer would threaten a private with court martial, you would either charge them or not charge them.

If the information is being used for a novel then lets get it right.

I can only repeat my point...the question isn't about the court martial process its about a private being threatened with a court martial....no nco or officer would threaten a private with court martial, you would either charge them or not charge them.

If the information is being used for a novel then lets get it right.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can only repeat my point...the question isn't about the court martial process its about a private being threatened with a court martial. I Can only repeat my point...no nco or officer would threaten a private with court martial, you would either charge them or not charge them.

If the information is being used for a novel then lets get it right.

Thank you all for your helpful replies. Specifically for the novel, a private is being "threatened" with court martial just before an advance, his captain saying that he had better prove himself or else. I know that in situations like this, one couldn't always go by the book. And my characters are Canadians. This should probably be started as a new thread, but I've discovered in my research, several references to Canadians being rather ruthless about taking prisoners. As this character shot his, you can probably see where I'm going with this.

Any other advice, comments would be greatly appreciated!

Gabriele

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thats ok then if its Canadians. They can fight their own battles.

Mick

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course you can threaten someone with a courts martial the same as you can threaten someone with a charge, firing squad etc.

If we're talking about the military it's still common practice to do that and I've seen officers, SNCOs and NCOs do just that, less the firing squad as we don't do that anymore. I.E. if you don't do that you're going on a charge. If someone is about to commit an offence, or is refusing to do something someone will have the potential to warn them of anything.

It's the same as pointing a pistol at them and threatening to shoot. It doesn't mean you're going to do it, it will certainly make them think.

Steve

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Then I'm afraid then that they are very poor leaders. Are you saying you have had to threaten a subordinate with a court martial to get them to do their job, I don't believe that for one minute?

lets be specific...this is about threatening with a court martial, not a good hiding because he's an idle sod or turning back a soldier or group of soldiers who have lost their bottle at the point of a gun (interestingly takes us back to Crozier).

Mick

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...