British Army officer rank insignia

The following are the insignia—emblems of authority—of the British Army. Badges for field officers were first introduced in 1810 and the insignia was moved to the epaulettes in 1880 for all officers in full dress.

NATO Code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student Officer
United Kingdom United Kingdom
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Field Marshal1 General Lieutenant-General Major-General Brigadier Colonel Lieutenant-Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second Lieutenant Officer Cadet
Abbreviation:FMGenLt GenMaj GenBrigColLt ColMajCaptLt2LtOCdt
Typical Command Size or Appointment:[1]In abeyancemost senior appointmentscorpsdivisionbrigade or director of operation capability on staffRarely a Field Command except in RAMC. Usually lowest staff officer as principal operational advisersbattalioncompany/battery/ squadroncompany/battery/ squadron (second in command) or leader of smaller specialised teamplatoonplatoon
Typical promotion to after:[2] 8–10 years5 years (university graduates 3 years)12–24 months44 weeks officer training

General officers

Before 1767, there were no definite badges for Field Marshals and General officers. In 1767, British army issued an order to distinguish Field Marshals and different graded General officers by the combination of chevron-shaped ess pattern laces on the sleeve.

During the Napoleonic wars, Field Marshals wore oak-leaf embroidered collar and cuff; and shoulder cord instead of previous pattern. It was continued till the end of 1830.

At the beginning of 1831, new rank distinction was ordered for Field Marshals and General officers.

After the Crimean War (30 January 1855), War Office ordered different rank badges for British General, staff and Regimental officers. It was the first complete rank badges of British Army.

In 1868, Brigadier General were ordered to wear same collar like other General officers, but no device in the collar.

In 1880, War Office ordered to move rank badges from collar to shoulder.

In 1920, War Office abolished Brigadier General rank and introduced new rank called: Colonel Commandant (Officer commanding a Brigade) or Colonel on the staff (Officer not commanding a Brigade, but staff officer). The badges of Colonel Commandant and Colonel on the staff were same which is crown and three stars. In 1928, Brigadier rank was introduced by abolishing Colonel Commandant and Colonel on the Staff. Since 1928, Brigadier has been maintaining same rank badges of Colonel Commandant.

Regimental Officers

1791 War Office ordered to wear different graded epaulettes and wings to distinguish regimental officers (Colonel to Ensign/ Cornet). It was ordered for only line Infantry officers. According to the Army Order,

In 1795, special pattern of epaulettes was ordered for Fusiliers and Light Infantry officers. Field officers of those regiments wore epaulettes over wings. Company officers wore wings.

In February 1810, an order was issued by War Office to distinguish Field officers. In this order, device was introduced in each epaulettes.

Aforesaid badges were issued for all infantry regiments except Foot Guards. In 1815, badges for Foot guards were ordered. In Foot guards regiments, all Field Officers were equivalent to the Colonel of line Infantry regiments. Captains were Lieutenant Colonel, Lieutenants were Major and Ensigns were Captains of Battalion company of line Infantry.

In 1829, epaulettes and wings were standardised by maintaining the badges of rank issued in 1810 and 1815. According to the order, epaulettes of all regular infantry regiments and foot guards regiments would be in gold and other regiments were in silver. All officers including field and company officers wore epaulettes and wings on both shoulders. Epaulettes over wings system was abolished. Different graded officer wore different sized bullion to distinguish themselves from other.

In January 1855, at the end of the Crimean War, the War Office abolished all epaulette and wing rank badges. New rank badges were introduced in the collar. It was first time, complete rank badges were introduced for the British Army.

Aforesaid rank badges were issued for all regiments except Foot Guards.

Field officers: Two rows of half inch laces with Crown and Bath star. Captain: Two rows of half inch laces with Crown. Lieutenant: One row of half inch lace on the top of collar with Crown and Bath star. Ensign: One row of half inch lace on the top of collar with Crown.

In April 1880, rank badges were moved from collar to shoulder. Officers of all regiments including Foot Guards wore following rank badges.

In May 1902, rank badges issued in 1880 was slightly modified.

Officer insignia of rank as worn on the sleeves in the World War I period.

In 1919, a new order was issued by the Horse Guards office—all Guards officers would wear special star badges.

During World War I, some officers took to wearing tunics with the rank badges on the shoulder, as the cuff badges made them too conspicuous to snipers. This practice was frowned on outside the trenches but was given official sanction in 1917 as an optional alternative, being made permanent in 1920, when the cuff badges were abolished.

Historical ranks

See also

Notes and references

  1. "British Army Website: Ranks". Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  2. "British Army Website: Officer careers". Retrieved 3 November 2013.
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