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What rank is this WW1 soldier?

PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2016 7:34 pm
by ermin79
My great-aunt has recently taken an interest in family history and seems to like setting me challenges. I have attached a photograph of "Charlie" who was stepping out with my great-grandmother pre WW1. He died in the war and my great-aunt had some information about him but would like to identify him conclusively. Apparently had Charlie lived my great-grandfather (she married 6 years later) "wouldn't have stood a chance".
From the first name clues and location I have narrowed it down to two possibilities.
One was a Private in the Lincolnshire Regiment, the other was Lance Corporal in the Lincolnshire Regiment and later Lance Corporal then Corporal in the Machine Gun Corps.
Knowing nothing about army ranks, I wondered does the uniform give any clues? I didn't know if the Machine Gun Corps had a separate cap badge but the picture is too indistinct to make out anything other than a blob.
I intend to see if I can trace any living descendants of the soldiers' siblings to see if I can get final confirmation but if anyone can halve the amount of people I try and contact I would be most grateful.
Thank you

Re: What rank is this WW1 soldier?

PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2016 9:26 pm
by AdrianB38
The chap in question is an officer and appears to have one star on his cuff, making him a second lieutenant - see http://www.westernfrontassociation.com/the-great-war/great-war-on-land/weapons-equipment-uniform/340-rank-insignia.html. If you think that 1 of your 2 chaps is the answer then you need to check promotions to officers in the London Gazette (which is online https://www.thegazette.co.uk/) as if it's a promotion at the end of his career, it may not show up on his Medal Index Cards (I get lost a bit with what rank appears when...)

If he didn't survive then he will be in the CWGC data http://www.cwgc.org/.

Re: What rank is this WW1 soldier?

PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2016 7:59 am
by ermin79
Many thanks Adrian, this fact may have produced more questions than answers!
Having taken a look at Army ranks Second Lieutenant appears way above Corporal, let alone Private. I can find neither of my candidates in the London Gazette either so if promotion would definitely have been recorded in there, either memories are inaccurate (not the first time) or I am missing something (not the first time either!)
I am assuming that a soldier would need to rise up through each rank prior to becoming an officer? Or would it be theoretically possible for a soldier to have a rapid promotion over several ranks if they had stood out for their actions?
Many thanks

Re: What rank is this WW1 soldier?

PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2016 8:27 am
by JaneyH
I'll leave others (Adrian) to provide the technical detail, but certainly soldiers were "commissioned from the ranks", especially towards the end of WW1 as casualties mounted. This thread on the Great War Forum gives some background http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forum ... nt-1534543

As an example, my husband's great uncle originally enlisted as a corporal in the Liverpool Regiment before being commissioned into the North Staffordshire Regiment in early 1917. (Cadet officer, 2nd Lieutenant).


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Re: What rank is this WW1 soldier?

PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2016 9:16 am
by AdrianB38
As Janey says, soldiers could be commissioned directly from the ranks without going through all the other steps. This isn't a contest but one of my lot was wounded in France as a private, sent back to Blighty (Britain) and then commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. This wouldn't have been a reward - he'd only been in France a few weeks - but was probably the result of the Army expanding and looking for those with leadership potential.

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Re: What rank is this WW1 soldier?

PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2016 9:25 am
by AdrianB38
Because the Gazette search interface can be tricky and depends on machine driven OCR, it would be worth cross checking those 2 names against the CWGC. If Charlie didn't survive, his name will be there. If your 2 candidates aren't in the CWGC, then they survived and they won't be Charlie. Or at least it's 99.999% certain.

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Re: What rank is this WW1 soldier?

PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 6:58 pm
by ermin79
Thank you Adrian and Janey. The only details I had were a first name and the village he was assumed to have come from, so I got my two possibles from the war memorial in the village. Both men are on the CWGC and their ranks are shown respectively as Private and Corporal. I did also check the CWGC just using the village name (as I know its sometimes mentioned in additional detail) and the rank of Second Lieutenant. The only one I found seemed unlikely due to age and the fact that it was his parents, not he, who lived there.

There is also the need for me to consider that Charlie may have been a nickname for a man not neccessarily called Charles. I think in this instance I will try and identify relatives of the two men (if I can find any) and keep my fingers crossed.

Thanks again for your assistance