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Thread: Question for Brit/Commenwealth Soldiers

  1. #1
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    Default Question for Brit/Commenwealth Soldiers

    In the US Army Warrent Officers are rendered salutes by lower ranks, Command Sergeants Major and Sereants Major are not (usually). I know that Regemental Sergeants Major in the Brit. Army are Warrent Officers, are they saluted by lower ranks?

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    Default Re: Question for Brit/Commenwealth Soldiers

    Quote Originally Posted by muscogeemike View Post
    In the US Army Warrent Officers are rendered salutes by lower ranks, Command Sergeants Major and Sereants Major are not (usually). I know that Regemental Sergeants Major in the Brit. Army are Warrent Officers, are they saluted by lower ranks?
    The Australian position. But maybe forty years out of date.

    If I recall correctly, the theory was that all non-commissioned soldiers (i.e. not officers) saluted all commissioned soldiers (i.e. officers) because the officers held a commission from the monarch (British Queen at the time, and she's still there) and the salute was honouring the monarch rather than the officer personally. Or something along those lines.

    So, if you weren't an officer you didn't salute anyone but an officer. Officers saluted higher ranks of officers, but what goes on between officers is their own business.

    My understanding is that a Warrant Officer in the US is something between a non-commissioned soldier and a commissioned officer. I think that during the Vietnam War some US Army helicopter pilots held that rank, and presumably others held it.

    In my ancient time, and maybe now, there was no equivalent in the Australian Army to a US Warrant Officer. Our ranks below commisioned ranks were WO1 (Warrant Officer 1), WO2, Staff Sergeant, Sergeant, Corporal, Lance Corporal, and Private. Different arms and corps had the same levels of ranks but some designated them differently, such as trooper in armour = private in infantry and (I think) bombardier in artillery = corporal in infantry.

    My recollection is that our warrant officers held the Queen's warrant, as distinct from her (Uh Oh - I should have said Her!) commission, but that a warrant remained a non-commissioned rank.
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    Default Re: Question for Brit/Commenwealth Soldiers

    P.S.

    In my day, one of the digger's phrases for saluting an officer was "throw him a boxer". I've never been able to work out where that came from.

    In WWI Australian soldiers drove the British to distraction with their refusal to salute in accordance with British regulations and protocol. Endless instructions were issued by various British commanders in various theatres, and all to very little effect. What pissed the Brits off even more was that Australian officers, who were supposed to be enforcing saluting by Australian troops, were frequently derelict in observing saluting protocols towards British officers.

    The attitude of some Australian soldiers towards British demands for proper military conduct may be gleaned from an instruction by Gen Birdwood, the British commander of Australian forces in France in WWI. Birdwood issued an instruction that Australian officers should stop the appalling language of Australian soldiers and in particular stop the frequency of **** and its derivatives and bastard. Birdwood added a comment along the lines that he did not think such language was used in Australia (a country he had never visited). When Birdwood's instruction and his injunction against using ****, its derivatives, bastard and them not being used in Australia was read out by an Australian officer to a large parade of Australian troops, a voice from the ranks yelled "The ****ing bastard's never been there!"
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    Default Re: Question for Brit/Commenwealth Soldiers

    Back in the later Bronze age when I was in the Army, we did have some W.O.'s on post. They were heli pilots, (we had an airfield, same one used to fly those executed in Nurnberg to Berlin) Some were also supervisory types in the different battalion maint sheds. As I recall, they were addressed as Mister, and not saluted. Though they were usually in company with commissioned gentlemen, so got saluted by association. On occasion we would have cadets from West Point come across to dip their toes into the real Army, they were also addressed as Mister,never Sir, and not saluted. (as they had not earned that right as yet.)

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    Default Re: Question for Brit/Commenwealth Soldiers

    I did salute the RSM of the camp I was on a while back, his response was to show me his rank slide with a "don't worry about that mate, I work for a living". RSMs, unfortunately, have the same cap badge as officers so unless you can see the rank slide they're frequently very hard to tell apart.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

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    Default Re: Question for Brit/Commenwealth Soldiers

    Thanks for the input gentlemen. I started my service in the mid 1960’s and US Warrant Officers were common. As tankgeezer said they were addressed as Mister or Chief, and ,as in the Australian and British Army, they are appointed instead of commissioned. Warrant Officers (W.O.) are between NCO and Officer rank (heavily leaning to the Officer side) and in the US Army they are considered among most experienced men in their respective fields.
    In the Seventies I spent a some time with a Brit. Army Unit in Germany as part of an exchange program and among our detachment was a U.S. Army Engineer Warrant Officer. When we arrived we were greeted in the Sergeants Mess (I was an NCO) and when the Brits. learned we considered our Chief to be an officer there was some confusion. Apparently billeting him in the Sgt’s. Mess was a breach of protocol.
    Some time later I (and two other NCO’s) were invited back to attend the Units Queens Birthday Ball. I made the mistake of having a U.S. Female Lieutenant as my date, again a serious breach to the Brits. Though not such a big thing in the US Army.

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    Default Re: Question for Brit/Commenwealth Soldiers

    After some consideration I realize my comment about a Female Lieutenant as my “date” suggest something I did not intend. In fact she was in my unit and knew of my invitation and wanted to attend the function. She also had a car and was willing to drive. Out relationship was absolutely professional and plutonic.

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    Default Re: Question for Brit/Commenwealth Soldiers

    Quote Originally Posted by muscogeemike View Post
    As tankgeezer said they were addressed as Mister or Chief, and ,as in the Australian and British Army,
    For us, they're "Mr" whatever if you're senior to them, and "Sir" if you're junior to them. Staff/Colour sergeants and below are addressed by rank.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

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    Default Re: Question for Brit/Commenwealth Soldiers

    Quote Originally Posted by muscogeemike View Post
    Warrant Officers (W.O.) are between NCO and Officer rank (heavily leaning to the Officer side) and in the US Army they are considered among most experienced men in their respective fields.
    In Australia they were, and I gather from serving members still are, considered the senior NCOs without any leaning to the officer side (similar to pdf's earlier comment about an RSM saying "I work for a living" to distinguish him from commissioned officers) , and are respected for that by the troops and by any sensible officer above them.

    A halfway good WO as RSM or CSM runs the unit on a day to day basis, and a sensible officer lets them do it.
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    Default Re: Question for Brit/Commenwealth Soldiers

    Quote Originally Posted by muscogeemike View Post
    In the Seventies I spent a some time with a Brit. Army Unit in Germany as part of an exchange program and among our detachment was a U.S. Army Engineer Warrant Officer. When we arrived we were greeted in the Sergeants Mess (I was an NCO) and when the Brits. learned we considered our Chief to be an officer there was some confusion. Apparently billeting him in the Sgt’s. Mess was a breach of protocol.
    Australian warrant officers mess with the sergeants, as they're not considered to be commissioned officers, by themselves or anyone else.

    But upon retirement of a WO1 it was customary to upgrade them to a Lieutenant so they got better retirement benefits. That's going back to the late Bronze Age. I don't know if they do it now.
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    Default Re: Question for Brit/Commenwealth Soldiers

    Probably not - late entry officers (former WO's) are usually commissioned as Captains, at least in the British Army - anything else would mean a pay/responsibility cut.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

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    Default Re: Question for Brit/Commenwealth Soldiers

    Quote Originally Posted by pdf27 View Post
    Probably not - late entry officers (former WO's) are usually commissioned as Captains, at least in the British Army - anything else would mean a pay/responsibility cut.
    You may be correct for Australia as well.

    I had it in mind that they were commissioned as captains, but logical override said that they couldn't jump a rank. If I think of it I'll ask someone who knows in a couple of days.
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    Default Re: Question for Brit/Commenwealth Soldiers

    I have seen WOs who've been commissioned wear Lieutenant's pips for a week before wearing Captain's.
    "There is no country on the face of the earth to which the principle of citizen-soldiership is so well adapted as our own, for the freedom possessed by Britons is of so general and real a character as to cause the humblest in the land to feel deeply the neccessity of preserving the safety and independence of the nation of which he is a part"

    The Volunteer's book of facts 1863

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    Default Re: Question for Brit/Commenwealth Soldiers

    Quote Originally Posted by Iron Yeoman View Post
    I have seen WOs who've been commissioned wear Lieutenant's pips for a week before wearing Captain's.
    I bet they're seriously embarrassed for a week! And a bit less so afterwards, still with much less real authority and power compared with an RSM etc.

    Then again, they'd still be treated warily by sensible junior officers in the officers' mess.
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    Default Re: Question for Brit/Commenwealth Soldiers

    Whether a Warrant Officer is promoted to Captain or Lieutenant depends on the Corps they serve in in the British Army, or at least it did 3 years ago when I got out. Some can also go for promotion from Warrant Officer to Officer in a different Corps.

    No matter whether promoted to Lieutenant or Captain (Both ranks basic pay is lower than a Warrant Officer class 1 basic rate) the Warrant Officer will not have a cut in pay.

    They tend to be treated as above a Captain in seniority and experience (in the R.E's at least) and be given the QM type roles mostly.

    As a little note we had a WO who was a real B'stard as an SSM and RSM , when he got promoted to Captain and we were told he was coming back to our Squadron as our AO we were dreading it to say the least. First exercise we went on while expecting the usual tirade of shouting and general kak from him he turned up at my 432 with a cuppa for us all. We were a little taken back. After a week of him being nice polite and helpful (Camming the wagons, cooking meals and even doing the odd stag when we were bushed on tasks as examples) curiosity got the better of me and half expecting to be figuratively killed I asked him why the change.
    The reply 'as a WO I was expected to be a B'stard it went with the job, now you see the real me'
    Last edited by leccy; 01-31-2011 at 11:53 AM.
    IN the days of lace-ruffles, perukes and brocade
    Brown Bess was a partner whom none could despise
    An out-spoken, flinty-lipped, brazen-faced jade,
    With a habit of looking men straight in the eyes
    At Blenheim and Ramillies fops would confess
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