Major-general (United Kingdom)
Major General (Maj Gen), is a 2 star rank in the British Army and Royal Marines. The rank was also briefly used by the Royal Air Force for a year and a half, to August 1919. In the British Army, a Major General is the customary rank for the appointment of Division commander. In the Royal Marines, the rank of Major General is held by the Commandant General.
A Major General is senior to a Brigadier but subordinate to Lieutenant General. The rank has a NATO rank code of OF-7, equivalent to a Rear Admiral in the Royal Navy or an Air Vice-Marshal in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many Commonwealth countries.
In terms of orthography, compound ranks were invariably hyphenated, prior to about 1980. Nowadays the rank is almost equally invariably non-hyphenated. To see the confusion in a source as definitive as the London Gazette, compare the entries in these two editions from 1979: firstly: from June, and then: from November. When written as a title, especially before a person's name, both words of the rank are always capitalised, whether using the 'traditional' hyphenated style of, say, the two World Wars, or the modern un-hyphenated style. When used as common nouns, they might be written in lower-case: 'Major-General Montgomery was one of several major-generals to be promoted at this time'.
British Army usage
In the British Army, a division is commanded by a Major General. However, other appointments may also be held by major generals. For example, the Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst is a Major General.
Until around the 1980s, the heads of each branch of service, such as the Royal Armoured Corps, the Royal Artillery and the Corps of Infantry were major-generals. Other, administrative, commands were also appointments for a Major-General. In addition, in wartime, the senior officer of the Royal Army Chaplains Department, the Chaplain-General, and similar appointments, were accorded 'the relative precedence' - that is to say the equivalence rather than the full powers and authority - of the rank of Major-General.
Royal Marines usage
The Commandant General Royal Marines has held the rank of Major General since 1996, when the post was downgraded from Lieutenant General. As in the British Army, a Royal Marine Major General ranks below Lieutenant General and above Brigadier.
Royal Air Force usage
From its foundation on 1 April 1918 to 31 July 1919, the Royal Air Force (RAF) briefly maintained the rank of Major-General. The service was a wartime amalgamation of the Army's Royal Flying Corps and the Navy's Royal Naval Air Service, so the Third Service ranks were a compromise between these two traditions. The insignia of the rank was derived from that of a Royal Navy Rear-Admiral and featured a broad gold stripe on the cuff below one narrow gold stripe. The two stripes were surmounted by an eagle (volant and affronty) under a king's crown. The RAF replaced the rank of Major-General with the rank of Air Vice-Marshal on the 1 August 1919.
Despite the short duration, the significance of the RAF to modern warfare was indicated by the number of senior officers who did wear the rank of Major-General in the RAF:
- Edward Ashmore
- Sefton Brancker
- George Cayley
- Edward Ellington
- Philip Game
- The Honorable Sir Frederick Gordon
- Frederick Heath-Caldwell
- John Higgins
- Mark Kerr
- Charles Lambe
- Charles Longcroft
- Godfrey Paine
- Geoffrey Salmond
- John Salmond
- Ernest Swinton
- Frederick Sykes
- Hugh Trenchard
|Commissioned officer ranks of the British Armed Forces|
|NATO rank code||Student officer||OF-1||OF-2||OF-3||OF-4||OF-5|| OF-6
|Royal Navy||O Cdt||Mid||SLt||Lt||Lt Cdr||Cdr||Capt||Cdre|| RAdm
|Adm of the Fleet|
|Royal Marines||2Lt||Lt||Capt||Maj||Lt Col||Col||Brig||Maj-Gen||Lt-Gen|| Gen|
|Army||O Cdt||2Lt||Lt||Capt||Maj||Lt Col||Col||Brig|| Maj-Gen
|Royal Air Force||Off Cdt / SO||APO / Plt Off||Fg Off||Flt Lt||Sqn Ldr||Wg Cdr||Gp Capt||Air Cdre||AVM||Air Mshl|| Air Chf Mshl