Ranks: Abbreviations, Explanations & Order (several merged threads)

Discussion in 'Service Records' started by pjs, Sep 18, 2006.

  1. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    It wasn't only W/Sgt ........ I was a W/Cpl as one of my Army Record sheets clearly shows

    We have actually discussed this W/Sgt business in detail on an earlier thread, perhaps one of the mods can give the link ?


    Attached Files:

  2. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

  3. op-ack

    op-ack Senior Member


    I agree, these prefixes couyld be used for any rank, including commissioned ranks.

  4. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Thanks gents. This maybe is the thread that was discussed: http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/general...eviations.html

    Ron, if you were a W/Cpl did you have to revert back at the end of the war?

    No Hugh...... not that one...... let's wait until someone finds the one that discussed W/Sgt.

    With regard to did I revert back, I will never know.
    Once I got out of the Forces in 1947 the matter was irrevalent and it would have taken a strong man to get me back :) :) :)
  5. AdrianB

    AdrianB Junior Member

    My first post here, having previously spent time with my relatives in The Great War. Now I'm gradually finding some WW2 relatives...

    Can anyone please explain the differences between the different types of ranks that someone could be recorded with, at the same time, in the Army List? The example I have is from the Army List, January 1942:
    "Royal Engineers
    "Regular Army Emergency Commissions contd
    "2nd Lieutenants contd
    "Bruce FL, AM Inst CE (W.S./Capt 14/2/41) (T/Maj. 14/2/41) s 14/11/40"

    It may (or may not) be relevant that he's recorded as a temporary 2nd Lieutenant in the Highland Light Infantry in WW1, though he comes out of the Army some time in 1920. (And AM Inst CE will be Associate Member of the Institute of Civil Engineers, I think.)

    Basically - what's (a) an Emergency Commission, (b) a WS Captain, (c) a T/Major? And (d) what's the "s" in front of 14/11/40 for?

    I could guess that WS might stand for War-something and a T/Major might be a Temporary Major - and I might even guess that the "s" in front of the date might mean substantive (he doesn't appear in the Feb 1940 list).

    But what are the proper meanings and what are the practical difference in "Terms and Conditions" between the different varieties of rank, i.e. between Emergency, WS, T, s and whatever?

  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hello and welcome.

    WS = War Substansive

    T = Temporary
  7. AdrianB

    AdrianB Junior Member

    Thanks Drew - I wouldn't have guessed WS was War Substantive. Which then leads me to the question - what's the difference between "Substantive" (presuming it's a meaningful word) and "War-Substantive" in terms of pay and conditions or whatever? For instance, would he revert to a 2nd Lt at the end of the war if he stayed on?

    I'm assuming (ouch!) that because he's on a page for 2nd Lieutenants, then that's what he is substantively, from 14/11/40. (Correct me if I'm wrong please!). And then on 14/2/41 he gets to be a Temporary Major. (Possibly because he's appointed Deputy Commander Royal Engineers, North Highland District). Am I right in saying that the temporary rank really goes with the job and that if he got another job - depending on its importance - he might revert to a lower rank?
  8. RosyRedd

    RosyRedd Senior Member

    Ann -
    starting of with the p/a/sgt - paid acting sergent -

    w/sgt - either war or warrant sergeant -

    w/s/sgt - is war substantive sergeant which means he is fuly paid - and accepted as a sergeant - he would - most likely have started off as an unpaid acting sergeant - from a war substantive corporal etc... the lowest up from private is the
    unpaid acting lance corporal...rank of course had it's privelege - once you got there !


    I know this post is old but it is relavent to something I'm looking at on my grandad's service record. If you were promoted to a war substantive staff sergeant and war ended would you lose the promotion (which is something I just read on a website) and also can promotions miss a rank?


  9. Philip of Lee

    Philip of Lee Active Member

    In my father's service record, it says he was appointed "W/Sgt": I suppose it means "War Sergeant", i.e. literally to the rank of Sergeant for the duration of the war, or would it mean "Warrant Sergeant" if there is (or was) such a thing?

    What puzzles me a bit is that he was already "P/A/Sgt", i.e. "Paid / Acting Sergeant".

    Insight welcome.

    Many thanks.
  10. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

  11. Philip of Lee

    Philip of Lee Active Member

    Thank you: very helpful.
  12. Simon A

    Simon A Active Member

    Can someone help me to understand the following extract from my Grandfather's Service Record.

    No. of Part II Orderor other Authority


    Promotions, Reductions, Casualties &c.

    Army Rank



    22nd Dgns





    22nd Dgns

    Reduced to the rank of Corporal for : - 1) Absence from 27/06/1943 to 28/06/1943 2) Conduct to the prejudice of good order and military dicipline, made irregular use of a W.D. Vehicle



    22 Dragoons RAC

    K.I.A NWE (No Will) Next of kin informed 02/11/1944

    W/Cpl (L/Sgt)


    What does WS/Cpl mean? Is it equivalent to Sergeant? From a letter from his commanding officer after he was killed I know he was promoted to Sergeant a week before he died and letters sent home after October 1941 show him as Sergeant.
  13. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    WS/Corporal = War Substantive Corporal.
  14. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Agree with Owen.

    There appears to be a missing promotion to Sgt between the promotion to WS/Cpl in 1941 and his demotion to Cpl in 1943.


    Steve Y
  15. Simon A

    Simon A Active Member

    Sorry about the formating - it went wrong when I copied it from Excel.

    .....But according to his letters at the time he was promoted to Sergeant - and the last entry records him as W/Cpl (L/Sgt)?
  16. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    W/Cpl is likely same as WS/Cpl. L/Sgt likely local Sgt (could be Lance Sergeant in a Guards Regiment).

    Steve Y
  17. Simon A

    Simon A Active Member

    Thanks Steve

    Local Sgt - What does that mean? He was in the R.A.C. 22nd Dragoons.

    There does seem to be a very large time gap between 16/10/1941 when he was promoted to WS/Cpl and 30/06/1943 when he was demoted to WS/Cpl so Steve Y maybe right in saying that there is a missing entry promoting him to sergeant.

    The entry before 16/10/1941 says he was appointed unpaid A/Cpl and then Paid A/Cpl both on the same day - 18/07/1941.

  18. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    During WW2 there are many cases of officers being at a local rank, ie within their Regiment, two or three above their Substantive rank.

    So you had (war) substantive Major, acting Lt Col & Local Col or even Brigadier. It all came crashing down in peacetime.

    As a general rule similar rules applied to other ranks as well.


  19. Philip of Lee

    Philip of Lee Active Member

    I am going through my father's Service Record and here is a recap of his successive ranks in the Intelligence Corps during WWII and its immediate aftermath.

    My question is: was a Lance Sergeant lower than a War Corporal? I would have thought the progression was: Unpaid Lance Corporal/ Paid Lance Corporal/ Acting Corporal/ War Corporal/ Lance Sergeant/ Acting Sergeant/ War Sergeant.

    Can you confirm, please?

    Many thank.



    ▪“U/L/C 8.6.44”, i.e. Unpaid Lance Corporal on 8 June 1944;
    ▪“P/L/CPL 7.10.44”, i.e. Paid Lance Corporal on 7 Oct 1944;
    ▪“U & P/A/CPL 22.6.45”, i.e. Unpaid and Paid Acting Corporal on 22 June 1945;
    ▪“U & P /L/Sgt 22.6.45”, i.e. Unpaid and Paid Lance Sergeant on 22 June 1945;
    ▪“W/CPL 20.9.45”, i.e. War Corporal on 20 Sept 1945;
    ▪“U & P/A/Sgt 1-11-45”, i.e. Unpaid and Paid Acting Sergeant on 1 Nov 1945;
    ▪“W/Sgt 30-4-46”, i.e. War Sergeant on 30 April 1946.

    Archaepon likes this.
  20. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    According to my own records the War Sergeant to which you refer should properly be W/S Sergeant which refers to War Substantive,

    I reached the giddy rank of War Substantive Corporal before being demobbed in April '47 but was intrigued to find that somewhere in my records they describe me as Bombadier which relates to the fact that I started my military life in the RA :)

    The progression of ranks from Pte to Sgt is correct as you have shown.


    My own records are in the forum Gallery

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