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Category: Badges

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Badges of Rank

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Also see Glossary of Ranks

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  • The "pip" or rank indicator for Officers is based on the Star of the Military Division of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath.
    • 1 indicates 2nd Lieutenant (formerly Lieutenant, before rank of 2nd Lt was introduced) 
    • 2 indicates 1st Lieutenant (formerly Captain, before rank of 2nd Lt. was introduced)
    • 3 indicates Captain
    • 1 under a crown indicates Lieutenant Colonel
    • 2 under a crown indicates Colonel
    • 3 under a crown indicates Brigadier
    • 1 above a crossed baton & sword indicates Major General
    • 1 under crown and above a crossed baton & sword indicates General
  • Wording is "Tria Juncta In Uno" which translates to '3 join to become one', a reference to the 3 countries that became the United Kingdom.
Australian metal badge of rank for a WO1 in WW1. Worn on the right sleeve, below the elbow and just above the overseas service stripes (also shown).
  • Australian metal badge of rank for a WO1 in WW1. Worn on the right sleeve, below the elbow. In some cases it was worn on a leather band on the right wrist. Note there was a gold coloured backing plate inside the sleeve that was not seen.
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  • Rank badges worn on the cuff by British Officers in WW1. As Australians had to interact with the Brits they were required to recognise these badges.


Colour Sergeant

  • The rank of colour sergeant was introduced into the British Army in 1813 as the protector of the ensign and the Colour. 

There was/is no such rank in the Australian Army except at the Royal Military College Duntroon, where it was a rank within the Corps of Staff Cadets. 

The escorts in a Colour Party are often Staff Sergeants and for ceremonial occasions, when Colours are on parade, they are referred to as the colour sergeants.

The rank did exist in Colonial Units. The most famous Australian ever to hold the rank was General Sir John Monash who was Colour Sergeant of 4th Battalion Victorian Rifles. Details

Lance Sergeant (no longer used in Australia)

  • Strictly speaking the rank of Lance Sergeant was (should have been) used only in the context of the Australian Light Horse. He was normally a senior sergeant who literally held the lance bearing the Brigade pennant and was alongside the Brigade Commander during a campaign. 

The lance sergeant (by holding the raised lance) would indicate to the other men where the brigade commander was on the field. Remember this was a time when Brigade Commanders were in the front line, leading by example.

  • Regarding the Lance Sergeant in relation to Infantry Battalions it was used as a floating (appointment) rank between Corporal and Sergeant. It was and still is used in the British army as a definite rank, but in the Australian army it appears it was used in a semi-official way. A Lance Sergeant had the same pay as a Sergeant , same responsibilities and the same chevrons. 

    • I believe though that demotion for a Lance Sergeant was a matter of a stroke of the pen as the rank was not official. 

    • In some units the rank was referred to as the still used Temporary Sergeant or Acting Sergeant.

The Irish Guards (along with the rest of the Household Division) have a unique rank structure. Where the rest of the Army have Lance- Corporals who wear one chevron and Corporals who wear two chevrons, the Guards have Lance-Corporals who wear two chevrons and the rank of Lance-Sergeant who is a full Corporal but who wears three chevrons and is senior by appointment to a normal Corporal. 

The rank structure was appointed by Queen Victoria who stated that her Guards would not wear only one chevron when mounting guard outside the Royal Palaces so she stated that the Lance-Corporal would wear two chevrons. That left the problem of what the full Corporal would wear to show that he was a full Corporal so the rank of Lance-Sergeant was appointed. 

Even though the Lance-Sergeant is only a full Corporal to the eyes of outside Regiments and Corps, he still has full Sergeant's Mess privileges. 

Lance Sergeant
Lance Corporal
Sergeant Lance Sergeant Lance Corporal

Lance Corporal

The appointed rank of Lance Corporal is based on the old British rank of the same name that was originally called or referred to as 'chosen man'. In other words the one next to take control of the section if the Corporal was to be killed or wounded. In the Australian Army the rank is the only one for which a soldier does not have to pass a specified test or series of tests. It is the first rung on the ladder to Field Marshal. It is the only appointed rank and demotion is easy if the man does not measure up.

Another theory: The word 'Lance' means just that. In days past, mounted soldiers were considered superior to those on foot. When unhorsed in battle, the lance which the ex-mounted man carried indicated his superiority and gave him certain prestige. From 'lance-man-of-foot', as he was called, comes the modern 'lance' rank. (from the Dept of Defence site)

2nd Corporal (no longer used)

In WW1 in Engineer Units (particularly Railway Units) the rank of 2nd Corporal was used. It equates with Lance Corporal.

The pieces of fabric (shoulder straps) going from shoulder to neck on uniform shirts or jackets is called an epaulette. It is possible but unusual to put officer's badges of rank on them. More common is to put the badges on a slide or a board and slide the whole lot over the epaulette. These are some examples of both methods . . .
Captain (Chaplain) New Guinea WW2 1st Lieutenant 2RAR Malaysia 1952 Lt Col., ANGAU, WW2 (not an Army rank or layout)

Shoulder boards worn by members of Headquarters Staff Corps, which later became the Administrative and Instructional Staff. This pattern worn by officers until 1921.
Gorget worn by members of Headquarters Staff Corps, which later became the Administrative and Instructional Staff. This pattern worn by officers until 1921.
Pair of Australian Commonwealth Horse khaki drill epaulettes, each with brass rank insignia for Lieutenant Colonel, voided brass 'ACH' title and brass securing buttons bearing the badge of the Colony of New South Wales.

Desert pattern camo badges of rank (Army)

Sergeant's stripes for Battle dress uniform WO & Snr NCO rank badges of RAAF

Rank slides for General (DPCU)

 Army WO1 (often the RSM)


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