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Listed in the table below are the insignia—emblems of authority—of the British Army. Badges for
field officer A field officer, field-grade officer, or senior officer is an Army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the br ...
s were first introduced in 1810 and the insignia was moved to the
epaulettes Epaulette (; also spelled epaulet) is a type of ornamental shoulder piece or decoration used as insignia of rank by armed forces and other organizations. In the French and other armies, epaulettes are also worn by all ranks of elite or ceremoni ...
in 1880. On ceremonial or parade uniforms these ranks continue to be worn on the epaulettes, either as cloth slides or as metal clips, although on the modern 'working dress' (daily uniform) they are usually worn as a cloth slide on the chest. Although these insignia apply across the British Army there is variation in the precise design and colours used and it can take some time to become familiar with them all. Officers in the ranks of lieutenant and second lieutenant are often referred to as subalterns and these and captains are also referred to as company officers. Brigadiers, colonels, lieutenant colonels and majors are
field officer A field officer, field-grade officer, or senior officer is an Army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the br ...
s. All above these are considered to be of
general officer A general officer is an Officer (armed forces), officer of highest military ranks, high rank in the army, armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines. In some usages the term "general officer" refers to a rank above colo ...
rank.


Ranks


General rank information


Notes


History of rank insignia


General officers

Before 1767, there were no definite badges for Field Marshals and
general officer A general officer is an Officer (armed forces), officer of highest military ranks, high rank in the army, armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines. In some usages the term "general officer" refers to a rank above colo ...
s. In 1767, the British Army issued an order to distinguish Field Marshals (once the rank was established in 1813) and different graded General officers by the combination of
chevron Chevron (often relating to V-shaped patterns) may refer to: Science and technology * Chevron (aerospace), sawtooth patterns on some jet engines * Chevron (anatomy), a bone * ''Eulithis testata'', a moth * Chevron (geology), a fold in rock laye ...
-shaped ess pattern laces on the sleeve. * Field Marshal: Evenly spaced six laces. * General: Evenly spaced four laces. * Lieutenant General: Six laces in threes. * Major General: Four laces in twos. * Brigadier General: Three laces. Upper twos were in pair. During the
Napoleonic wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major World war, global conflicts pitting the First French Empire, French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon, Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of Coalition forces of the Napoleonic W ...
, field marshals wore oak-leaf embroidered collar and cuff; and shoulder cord instead of previous pattern. It was continued until the end of 1830. At the beginning of 1831, new rank distinction was ordered for field marshals and general officers. * Field Marshal: Cross
baton Baton may refer to: Stick-like objects *Baton (conducting), a short thin stick used for directing a musical performance *Baton, a type of Club (weapon), club **Baton (law enforcement) **Baston (weapon), a type of baton used in Arnis and Filipino M ...
and wreath designed device was on epaulettes and buttons were evenly spaced . * General: Cross baton and sword with crown designed device on the epaulettes and buttons were evenly spaced. * Lieutenant General: Cross baton and sword with crown designed device on the epaulettes and buttons were in threes. * Major General: Cross baton and sword with crown designed device on the epaulettes and buttons were in twos. * Brigadier General: No device on the epaulettes and buttons were in two. After the
Crimean War The Crimean War, , was a military conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856 in which Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. ...
(30 January 1855), the
War Office The War Office This article contains text from this source, which is available under th Open Government Licence v3.0 © Crown copyright was a Department of the British Government responsible for the administration of the British Army The ...
ordered different rank badges for British general,
staff officer A military staff or general staff (also referred to as army staff, navy staff, or air staff within the individual services) is a group of officers, Enlisted rank, enlisted and civilian staff who serve the commanding officer, commander of a D ...
s and
regiment A regiment is a military unit Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed forces of a state so as to offer such military capability as a national defense policy may require. In some countries param ...
al officers. It was the first complete set of rank badges to be used by the British Army. * Field Marshal: Two rows of one inch wide oak-leaf designed lace on the collar with crossed baton above the wreath in silver. * General: Two rows of one inch wide oak-leaf designed lace on the collar with Crown and star in silver. * Lieutenant General: Two rows of one inch wide oak-leaf designed lace on the collar with Crown in silver. * Major General: Two rows of one inch wide oak-leaf designed lace on the collar with Star in silver. * Brigadier-general: Two rows of half inch wide staff pattern lace on the collar with Crown and star in silver. In 1868, brigadier-generals were ordered to wear the same collar as other General officers, but no device in the collar. In 1880, the War Office ordered to move rank badges from collar to shoulder. * Field Marshal: Crossed batons above the wreath of oak-leaf. On the top of the wreath a crown. * General: Crossed baton and sword with Crown and star. * Lieutenant General: Crossed baton and sword with Crown. * Major General: Crossed baton and sword with Star. * Brigadier General: Crossed baton and sword. In 1921, the War Office abolished the appointment of brigadier-general and introduced two appointments:
colonel commandant Colonel commandant is a military title used in the armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and mainta ...
(for an officer commanding a brigade) and "colonel on the staff" (for an officer not commanding a brigade, but staff officer). The rank badges of Colonel Commandant and Colonel on the staff were the same, consisting of a crown and three stars. In 1928, the appointment of brigadier was introduced and the appointments of Colonel Commandant and Colonel on the Staff ended. Since 1928, a brigadier has had the same rank badges as were displayed by a Colonel Commandant.


Regimental officers

Initially company and field rank insignia did not appear on officers' uniforms.Untangling British Army Ranks
/ref> In 1791 the War Office ordered officers to wear different graded epaulettes and wings to distinguish regimental officer ranks (Colonel to Ensign/ Cornet). This was ordered only for
line infantry Line infantry was the type of infantry Infantry is an army specialization whose military personnel, personnel engage in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and armored warfare, armored forces. Also known as ...
officers. According to the Army Order, * Field officers (Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel and Major) wore rich epaulettes with rich bullions on both shoulders. * Captains of Battalion company wore epaulettes with smaller bullions, * Subalterns (Lieutenant and Ensign/ Sub Lieutenant) of similar company wore same epaulette strap with fringes on right shoulder only. * Grenadier and Light companies Captain and Subalterns wore wings on both shoulders. In 1795, a special pattern of epaulettes was ordered for
Fusilier Fusilier is a name given to various kinds of soldiers; its meaning depends on the historical context. While fusilier is derived from the 17th-century French language, French word ''fusil'' – meaning a type of flintlock musket – the term has b ...
s and
Light Infantry Light infantry is a designation applied to certain types of foot soldiers (infantry) throughout history, typically having lighter equipment or Weapon, armament or a more mobile or fluid function than other types of infantry, such as heavy infa ...
officers. Field officers of those regiments wore epaulettes over wings. Company officers wore wings. In February 1810, an order was issued by the War Office to distinguish Field officer ranks. The following devices were introduced in the epaulettes: * Colonel: Crown and Garter star (
Order of the Garter (Shame on him who thinks evil of it) , eligibility = , criteria = At Her Majesty's pleasure , status = Currently constituted , founder = Edward III Edward III (13 November 131221 June 1377), also known as Edward ...
) * Lieutenant Colonel: Crown * Major: Garter star These badges were issued for all infantry regiments except the Foot Guards. In 1815, badges for Foot Guards were ordered. In Foot Guards regiments, all Field Officers were equivalent to the Colonels of line infantry regiments. Captains were equivalent to Lieutenant Colonels, Lieutenants were equivalent to Majors and Ensigns were equivalent to Captains of Battalion companies. * Field Officers: Crown and star (
Grenadier Guards "Evil be to him who evil thinks" , colors = , colors_label = , march = Quick: "The British Grenadiers "The British Grenadiers" is a traditional marching song of British, Australian and Canadian military units whose badge of identificatio ...

Grenadier Guards
and
Coldstream Guards The Coldstream Guards is the oldest continuously serving regular regiment A regiment is a military unit Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed force A military, also known collectivel ...
used the Garter star, and
Scots Fusilier Guards The Scots Guards (SG) is one of the Foot Guards regiment A regiment is a military unit. Its role and size varies markedly, depending on the country, military service, service and/or a administrative corps, specialisation. In Middle Ages ...
used the Thistle star). * Captain: Crown * Lieutenant: Star * Ensign: No device. (Ensigns of the Grenadier Guards wore epaulettes on both shoulders, but the Ensigns of the other two regiments wore a single epaulette on the right shoulder.) 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. The epaulettes over wings system was abolished. Different graded officer wore different sized bullion to distinguish themselves from other. * Colonel: Epaulette bullions were three and half inches in length. Insignia was Crown and Bath star (
Order of the Bath The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry An order of chivalry, order of knighthood, chivalric order, or equestrian order is an order of knights typically founded during or inspired by the original Catholic mili ...

Order of the Bath
). * Lieutenant Colonel: Epaulette bullions were three and half inches in length. Insignia was a Crown. * Major: Epaulette bullions were three inches were length. Insignia was a Bath star. * Captain of Battalion company: Epaulette bullion were two and half inches in length, No insignia device. * Subaltern of Battalion company: Epaulette bullion were two inches in length. No insignia device. * Captain of
Flank companiesA ''flank company'' was a former military designation for two elite In political theory, political and sociology, sociological theory, the elite (French ''élite'', from Latin ''eligere'', to select or to sort out) are a small group of powerful pe ...
: Wings bullions were one and quarter inches in length and half inches in wide. * Subalterns of Flank companies: Wings bullions were one and quarter inches in length and quarter inches in wide. 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 that a complete set of rank badges was used by the British Army. * Colonel: Two rows of half inch laces in collar with Crown and Bath star. * Lieutenant Colonel: Two rows of half inch laces in collar with Crown. * Major: Two rows of half inch laces in collar with Bath star. * Captain: One row of half inch lace on the top of collar with Crown and Bath star. * Lieutenant: One row of half inch lace on the top of collar with Crown. * Ensign/Sub Lieutenant: One row of half inch lace on the top of collar with Bath star. The above rank badges were issued to all regiments except the Foot Guards regiments. 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 the following rank badges. * Colonel: Crown and two Bath stars. * Lieutenant Colonel: Crown and one Bath star. * Major: Crown. * Captain: Two Bath stars. * Lieutenant: One Bath star. * Second Lieutenant: No device. In May 1902, the rank badges issued in 1880 were slightly modified. * Captain: Three Bath stars. * Lieutenant: Two Bath stars. * Second Lieutenant: One Bath star. In 1919, a new order was issued by the Horse Guards office—all Guards officers would wear special star badges. * Grenadier Guards: Garter star. * Coldstream Guards: Garter star. * Scot Guards: Thistle star. * Irish Guards: Shamrock star * Welsh Guards: Garter star. During
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

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 insignia


Historical ranks

*
Captain-general Captain general (and its literal equivalent in several languages) is a high military rank Military ranks are a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily arme ...
(c. 17th century): a full
general A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate on Littoral Zone, littoral zone in suppo ...

general
. * Sergeant-major-general (c. 17th century): shortened to
major general Major general (abbreviated MG, maj. gen. and similar) is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. The disappearance of the "sergeant" in the title explains the apparent confusion of a lie ...

major general
. * Brigadier-general: replaced by colonel-commandant in 1921. * Colonel-commandant: replaced by
brigadier Brigadier is a military rank, the seniority of which depends on the country. In some countries, it is a senior rank above colonel, equivalent to a brigadier general or commodore (rank), commodore, typically commanding a brigade of several thous ...

brigadier
in 1928. *
Captain-lieutenant Captain lieutenant or captain-lieutenant is a military rank, used in a number of navies worldwide and formerly in the British Army. It is generally equivalent to the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth or United States, US naval rank of Lieutenan ...
(c. 17th & 18th century): the lieutenant of the first company in a regiment, whose captaincy was held by the regimental colonel. On promotion to full captain, the period in this rank was treated as having been a full captain for pay and pension purposes, since he effectively commanded the company. *
Ensign An ensign is the national flag flown on a vessel to indicate nationality. The ensign is the largest flag, generally flown at the stern (rear) of the ship while in port. The naval ensign (also known as war ensign), used on warships, may be differ ...
: lowest subaltern rank in infantry regiments; replaced in 1871 by
second lieutenant Second lieutenant is a junior Officer (armed forces), commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces, comparable to NATO OF-1a rank. Australia The rank of second lieutenant existed in the Colonial forces of Australia, military forces of ...
, but still used to refer to second lieutenants in some Guards regiments. *
Cornet The cornet (, ) is a brass instrument similar to the trumpet but distinguished from it by its conical Bore (wind instruments), bore, more compact shape, and mellower tone quality. The most common cornet is a transposing instrument in B, thoug ...
: cavalry equivalent of ensign replaced in 1871 by
second lieutenant Second lieutenant is a junior Officer (armed forces), commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces, comparable to NATO OF-1a rank. Australia The rank of second lieutenant existed in the Colonial forces of Australia, military forces of ...
, but still used to refer to second lieutenants in some cavalry regiments, including the Blues and Royals and
The Queen's Royal Hussars The Queen's Royal Hussars (The Queen's Own and Royal Irish) (QRH) is a United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' ...
.


See also

*
British Army other ranks rank insignia The term used to refer to all ranks below British Army officer rank insignia, officers in the British Army and the Royal Marines is "Other ranks (UK), other ranks" (abbreviated "ORs"). It includes warrant officers, non-commissioned officers (" ...
* British Army uniform *
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' us ...
*
Comparative military ranks of World War IThe following table shows comparative officer ranks of several Allies of World War I, Allied and Central Powers, Central powers during World War I. Not all combatant countries are shown in the table, only the central and entente powers. For modern ra ...
*
Comparative military ranks In general linguistics, the comparative is a syntactic construction that serves to express a comparison between two (or more) entities or groups of entities in quality or degree - see also comparison (grammar) Comparison is a feature in the morp ...
* Comparative officer ranks of World War II *
Military rank Military ranks are a system of hierarchy, hierarchical relationships, within an armed forces, police, intelligence agencies or other institutions organized along military lines. The military rank system defines dominance, authority, and respon ...
*
RAF officer ranks The officer ranks of the Royal Air Force The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' a ...
* Ranks and insignia of NATO Armies * Ranks of the cadet forces of the United Kingdom *
Royal Navy officer rank insignia These are the official Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's Navy, naval warfare force. Although warships were used by English and Scottish kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought ...
* United Kingdom and United States military ranks compared


References


External links


British Army rank structure and insignia (British Army website)

SaBRE



Napoleonic Era British Military ranks at ArmchairGeneral.com
{{Military ranks by country British military insignia