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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Rates of pay


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Does anyone know or can anyone point me towards a reference giving British Army rates of pay 1914 - 1918? I am particularly interested in junior officers but comparisons with other ranks would also be valuable.

Many thanks,


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Hello Eric

The Pay Warrant for 1914 is your best starting point. Try the National Army Museum at Chelsea.

Pay for both officers and men is a very complex subject. As well as regimental (basic) pay, other ranks of cavalry, infantry and artillery could qualify for proficiency pay (3d or 6d per day) after two years, and men of other arms received corps (specialist_ pay as well as regimental pay.

Officers holding command and staff appointments received consolidated annual rates of pay: other officers, and other ranks, received pay at daily rates. In all cases, the regimental pay depended on the arm of service.

There were a number of amendments to the Pay Warrant during the war, mostly to accommodate new corps such as the Machine Gun Corps and the Tank Corps, and there was a general increase in pay scales, especially for other ranks, in the last quarter of 1917.

Here are some samples of regimental pay for the infantry in 1914:

Captain, on promotion to that rank: 12s 6d.

Lieutenant: 8s 6d.

Second Lieutenant: 7s 6d.

Regimental Sergeant-Major: 5s.

RQMS or CSM: 4s.

CQMS: 3s 6d.

Sergeant: 2s 4d.

Corporal:1s 8d.

Lance-Corporal: 1s 3d.

Private: 1s.

Sergeants and above were also entitled to Class I proficiency pay (6d a day), and Corporals to Class II (3d a day) by virtue of their rank.

For other arms, the basic pattern according to rank is very similar. Corps pay in addition could add up to 50% or so to some of the other ranks' rates.


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Thanks exceedingly! That's just what I wanted. I have a contemporary account of some young British officers sharing champagne cocktails at 1F [French Franc] a shot at the Cafe du Globe in Bethune, shortly before the battle of Loos. Contemporary information is that 1F = 10d. Meanwhile a pint of ordinary English beer, in England, cost Tommy about 4d. I wanted to know how all of that stacked up against rates of pay.

If the basic cocktail was then as now, a measure of brandy with a shot of bitters, topped up with champagne, 'Sir' was probably paying about twice as much as Tommy per unit of alcohol [but I'll bet the French landlord was ripping 'Sir' off something wicked!]

Good wishes, and thanks again!


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Ron flinched, I think, from describing some nuances ... one very historical, and one very recent [1914].

For completion:

Firstly, the drummer/bugler/fifer/piper was not counted in rank and file and attracted an extra 1d, ie. 1/1-.

Secondly, the 4-company organisation intro. 1914 vastly complicated the colour sergeant part of the pecking order. All CSM and CQMS remained as substantive CSgts for one year, and were badged as such, but the CSM did indeed get 4/- and the [junior] CQMS 3/6-. However, it was possible to be appointed neither, and a CSgt thus also got 3/6-, unless instructor in musketry, when he had to make do with 3/3- ! .

The Sgt Cook was paid more than the other sergeants, 2/10-

Lance-Sergeants got 2/0-.

Boys [under 18], paid 8d.

In 1915 the [R]QMS and the CSMs were moved into the new Warrant Officer II category.

And finally, Guards ranks and appointments were paid more.

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Ron flinched, I think, from describing some nuances ... one very historical, and one very recent [1914].

Quite right! I also missed out the higher rates of pay for officers commissioned from the ranks:

Captain on promotion 14s; Lieutenant or Second Lieutenant 10s, rising to 11s after six years.

Thanks for filling in the other gaps, Grumpy.

On your question about the colour-sergeant, I think I am right in saying that the infantry stuck to this title where other arms would use staff-sergeant, e.g. the transport-sergeant, signaller-serjeant, sergeant master tailor and other specialists at a battalion HQ. Presumably the sergeant-cook was not considered as much of a specialist!


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Thankyou kindly, one and all!

To put this into some kind of context, a pint of 'ordinary' beer at the start of the War cost 4d [that's 4 old pence for you youngsters, 4/240 of a £]. At the Cafe du Globe in Bethune, where the officers drank, a champagne cocktail, as enjoyed by Robert Graves and friends in October 1915 [see GTAT] cost 10d [1 Franc].

According to Horatio Bottomley, writing in John Bull, to train a soldier cost £200. Dependant on the basis of conversion , that's between about £165M and just over £1B per Division at modern values. Expensive business, war!

Eric Webb

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My father in law served with the Royal Warwickshire Regt, in his diary he wrote:

Pay from 19/11/17 to 14/5/18 £9.10s.10d Credit £6.0.0

and for some reason he wrote: 100 Francs 215 Lires (he did serve in Italy for a time)


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I found this amongst my Father in law's papers:



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Balance due to soldier on the date

of arrival at Dispersal Station 9. 15. 5 ¼

28 day’s furlough at …..1/9d…. 2. 9. 0

(net rate)

28 day’s ration allowance at ..2/1d 2. 18. 4

Allowance for plain clothes … 2. 12. 6

Family allowance including

Ration allowance …. …. …. --------------

*Pay Warrant, or gratuity, or Gratuity

under Army Order 283 of 1914 --------------

Balance of bounty under Army

Order 209 of 1916, or Army

Order 222 of 1918 …. …. --------------

War gratuity … … . . . …. . 19. 0. 0

Total 36. 15. 3 ¼


Balance due from soldier up to the

Date of arrival at Dispersal Station ----------------

Clothing, equipment, etc,

Deficient on dispersal … . .. … … ---------------

Advance at Dispersal Station … … 2. 0. 0

Deposited in Post Office Savings

Bank … … … … … … … … 19. 0. 0.

Paid by demobilization postal

Draft –

Date 24 / 1/ 1919 6. 10. 0

Date 31 / 1/ 1919 4. 10. 0

Date 7/ 2/ 1919 4. 15. 3

Fraction ¼

Total 36. 15. 3 ¼

*Less £1 payable on return of the military greatcoat (see Army Book 472)

To the Soldier – You will receive in a few days a communication from the Controller, Savings Bank, informing you at what office your Savings Bank book is ready for issue to you. If you should change your address before receipt of the notification you should immediately inform the Controller, Post Office Savings Bank, London W14. Of your new address and take any necessary action to secure that the notification if already despatched reaches you.

Sorry it hasn't quite come out like I typed it ( but I think you will get the gist).


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