Colonel (United Kingdom)

Last updated

Colonel
British Army OF-5.svg British Royal Marines OF-5.svg
Army and Royal Marines insignia
CountryFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Service branchFlag of the British Army.svg  British Army
Flag of the Royal Marines.svg  Corps of Royal Marines
AbbreviationCol
NATO rank OF-5
FormationMid-16th century
Next higher rank Brigadier
Next lower rank Lieutenant colonel
Equivalent ranks

Colonel (Col) is a rank of the British Army and Royal Marines, ranking below brigadier, and above lieutenant colonel. British colonels are not usually field commanders; typically they serve as staff officers between field commands at battalion and brigade level. The insignia is two diamond-shaped pips (properly called "Bath Stars") below a crown. The crown has varied in the past with different monarchs; the current Queen's reign has used St Edward's Crown. The rank is equivalent to captain in the Royal Navy and group captain in the Royal Air Force.

Contents

Etymology

The rank of colonel was popularized by the tercios that were employed in the Spanish Army during the 16th and 17th centuries. General Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba divided his troops in to coronelías (meaning "column of soldiers" from the Latin, columnella or "small column" [1] ). These units were led by a coronel. [2] This command structure and its titles were soon adopted as colonello in early modern Italian and in Middle French as coronel.

The rank title entered the English language from French in the mid-16th century and so the modern English pronunciation of the word is derived from the French variant. [3]

History

The use of the rank of colonel pre-dates the establishment of the United Kingdom. In the mid-17th century, the regiments of the New Model Army were commanded by colonels.

The British Army has historically been organized around the regiment, with each regiment being raised, uniformed, and equipped either directly by the crown or by a nobleman. The colonels nominally commanding these regiments often had little to do with the regiment's actual activities, either because they contemporaneously served as general officers or because they were essentially mere financiers.

By the end of 17th century in Great Britain, the "colonel of a regiment" was often a titled person who had been given Royal Assent to raise it for service and command it in battle. As such, he was required to cover all costs of the regiment's equipment, uniforms and wages as well select its officers. [4] Until the late 18th century most British regiments were commonly known by the name of the colonelcy, for example Lord Churchill's Dragoons (16831685) or Elliot's Light Horse (175966).

By the start of the American Revolutionary War most English and Welsh regiments in the standing army of Great Britain were named numerically, although some independent Highland regiments such as MacLeod's Highlanders were raised in the name of their colonel for service in West Africa and India. The change from a colonelcy based on patronage was because the British Army's administration had been reformed into three administrative bodies:

The reforms meant that the British government was now financially responsible for the pay, clothing and equipment of the troops in the service of the British Crown. Colonels were also no longer permitted to profit directly from the sale of officer commissions in their regiments. [4] A lieutenant-colonel commanded the regiment in battle. [4]

By the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars, the title "colonel of the regiment" had become a sinecure appointment for distinguished generals and members of the royal family or British nobility. Despite an individual only being permitted to hold one colonelcy, it was a profitable position as they were in financial charge of their regiment's allowance from the government. This meant they could hope to make a profit on the funds allocated for equipment, supplies and uniforms. As generals were mostly on half-pay, a colonelcy was a method of providing them with extra income. Many colonels spent large sums of their own money on their regiments.

By the end of the 19th century, the reorganisation of the British Army through the Cardwell and Childers Reforms had established a colonel as a professional rank with senior administrative responsibilities in regiment or brigade.

Ceremonial usage

Colonel-in-Chief

Another title employed by the British Army is "Colonel-in-Chief" which is distinct from the ceremonial title "Colonel of the Regiment". The position is usually held by a member of the Royal Family who acts as a patron to the unit, as Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, did for the Bermuda Regiment. Although they do not have an operational role, they are kept informed of all important activities undertaken by the regiment and pay occasional visits to its operational units. The chief purpose of a colonel-in-chief is to maintain a direct link between a given regiment and the British Royal Family.

Colonel of the Regiment

Some of the historic duties associated with the title Colonel of the Regiment (to distinguish it from the military rank of colonel) continue to be used in the modern British Army. The ceremonial position is often conferred on retired general officers, brigadiers or colonels who have a close link to a particular regiment. Non-military personnel, usually for positions within the Army Reserve, may also be appointed to the ceremonial position. When attending functions as "Colonel of the Regiment", the titleholder wears the regimental uniform with rank insignia of (full) colonel, regardless of their official rank. A member of the Royal Family is known as a Royal Colonel. A Colonel of the Regiment is expected to work closely with a regiment and its regimental association.

Honorary Colonel

Regiments or units may have an Honorary Colonel; which is solely a Ceremonial rank, that can also be held by a civilian, with no military service. If the appointment is held by a member of the Royal Family it is known as Royal Honorary Colonel . Certain units may have one or more Deputy Colonels. [8]

Colonel of Marines

The Royal Navy once conveyed the honorific title "Colonel of Marines" to post-captains as a reward for highly distinguished service. It was a salaried sinecure position with no additional obligations outside a captain's normal naval duties. He would lose this title and its additional pay upon reaching flag rank. Horatio Nelson was given such a colonelcy in 1795, two years before he reached flag rank. [9]

Royal Air Force

From 1 April 1918 to 31 July 1919, the Royal Air Force maintained the rank of colonel. During this period, groups were often commanded by RAF colonels. The rank of colonel was superseded by that of group captain on 1 August 1919.

Historical insignia

When badges of rank were introduced for field officers in 1810, full colonels were designated with a crown and star worn on shoulder epaulettes. In 1855, after the Crimean War, new dress regulations were published which specified changes where rank would be worn. Thereafter full colonels wore half-inch regimental pattern laces on upper and lower collar, with one crown and one star. In 1880 the insignia was moved to the shoulder boards when in full dress, and full colonels were given an extra star. The pattern of a crown above two stars has remained the identifying insignia from 1880 to the present day although it has variously been worn on the shoulder, cuff and chest.

During World War I, colonels wore the following cuff badges:

Current insignia

A colonel's gorget patches Gorget Col Brig British Service Dress.jpg
A colonel's gorget patches

The insignia is two diamond-shaped pips (properly called "Bath Stars") below a crown. Gorget patches, colloquially known as red tabs, with crimson lace and a brass button are also worn. [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

Colonel is a senior military officer rank below the general officer ranks. However, in some small military forces, such as those of Monaco or the Vatican, colonel is the highest rank. It is also used in some police forces and paramilitary organizations.

<i>Aide-de-camp</i> Personal assistant or secretary to a person of high rank

An aide-de-camp is a personal assistant or secretary to a person of high rank, usually a senior military, police or government officer, or to a member of a royal family or a head of state.

Sergeant major is a senior non-commissioned rank or appointment in many militaries around the world. In Commonwealth countries, the various degrees of sergeant major are appointments held by warrant officers. In the United States, there are also various grades of sergeant major, all of the same pay grade of E-9; however, the Sergeant Major of the Army and the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, as their respective service's Senior Enlisted Advisor, receive a special rate of basic pay that is higher than all other sergeants major.

Epaulette Military rank insignia

Epaulette 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 ceremonial units when on parade. It may bear rank or other insignia, and should not be confused with a shoulder mark - also called a shoulder board, rank slide, or slip-on - a flat cloth sleeve worn on the shoulder strap of a uniform.

This is a table of the ranks and insignia of the Canadian Armed Forces. As the Canadian Armed Forces is officially bilingual, the French language ranks are presented following the English.

British Army officer rank insignia Wikimedia list article

Listed in the table below are the insignia—emblems of authority—of the British Army. Badges for field officers were first introduced in 1810 and the insignia was moved to the epaulettes 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' 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.

British Army other ranks rank insignia

The term used to refer to all ranks below officers is "other ranks". It includes warrant officers, non-commissioned officers ("NCOs") and ordinary soldiers with the rank of private or regimental equivalent. Officers may, in speaking, distinguish themselves from those "in the ranks".

Colonel commandant is a military title used in the armed forces of some English-speaking countries. The title, not a substantive military rank, could denote a senior colonel with authority over fellow colonels. Today, the holder often has an honorary role outside the executive military structure, such as advocacy for the troops.

Colonel (Canada) officer rank of the Canadian Armed Forces

In the Canadian Forces, the rank of colonel (Col) is a rank for officers who wear army or air force uniform, equal to a captain for officers who wear navy uniform. A colonel is the highest rank of senior officer. A colonel is senior to a lieutenant-colonel or naval commander, and junior to a brigadier-general or commodore.

Colonel (United States) Military rank of the United States

In the United States Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force, colonel is the most senior field grade military officer rank, immediately above the rank of lieutenant colonel and just below the rank of brigadier general. It is equivalent to the naval rank of captain in the other uniformed services. By law, a colonel must have at least 22 years of cumulative service and a minimum of three years as a lieutenant colonel before being promoted. The pay grade for colonel is O-6.

Full dress uniform Uniform for wear on formal occasions

Full dress uniform or parade dress uniform is the most formal type of uniforms used by military, police, fire and other public uniformed services for official parades, ceremonies, and receptions, including private ones such as marriages and funerals. Full dress uniforms typically include full-size orders and medals insignia. Styles tend to trace back to uniforms used during the 19th century, although the 20th century saw the adoption of mess-dress styled full-dress uniforms. Designs may depend on regiment or service branch. In Western dress codes, full dress uniform is a permitted supplementary alternative equivalent to the civilian white tie for evening wear or morning dress for day wear – sometimes collectively called full dress – although military uniforms are the same for day and evening wear. As such, full dress uniform is the most formal uniform, followed by the mess dress uniform.

Australian Army officers receive a commission from the Monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II, of Australia, signed by the Governor-General of Australia, acting on her behalf. Rank insignia for commissioned officers is identical to that of the British Army, with the addition of a band containing the word "Australia" beneath the insignia.

Major (Maj) is a military rank which is used by both the British Army and Royal Marines. The rank is superior to captain, and subordinate to lieutenant colonel. The insignia for a major is a crown. The equivalent rank in the Royal Navy is lieutenant commander, and squadron leader in the Royal Air Force.

Major (United States) rank in the United States uniformed services, O-4

In the United States Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force, major is a field grade military officer rank above the rank of captain and below the rank of lieutenant colonel. It is equivalent to the naval rank of lieutenant commander in the other uniformed services. Although lieutenant commanders are considered junior officers by their respective services, the rank of major is that of a senior officer in the United States Army, the United States Marine Corps, and the United States Air Force.

Lieutenant colonel, is a rank in the British Army and Royal Marines which is also used in many Commonwealth countries. The rank is superior to major, and subordinate to colonel. The comparable Royal Navy rank is commander, and the comparable rank in the Royal Air Force and many Commonwealth air forces is wing commander.

Uniforms of the British Army

The uniforms of the British Army currently exist in twelve categories ranging from ceremonial uniforms to combat dress. Uniforms in the British Army are specific to the regiment to which a soldier belongs. Full dress presents the most differentiation between units, and there are fewer regimental distinctions between ceremonial dress, service dress, barrack dress and combat dress, though a level of regimental distinction runs throughout.

Gorget patches Kragenspiegel

Gorget patches are an insignia, paired patches of cloth or metal on the collar (gorget) of the uniform, that is used in the military and civil service in some countries. Collar tabs sign the military rank, the rank of civil service, the military unit, the office (department) or the branch of the armed forces and the arm of service.

Captain (Capt) is a junior officer rank of the British Army and Royal Marines and in both services it ranks above lieutenant and below major with a NATO ranking code of OF-2. The rank is equivalent to a lieutenant in the Royal Navy and to a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force. The rank of captain in the Royal Navy is considerably more senior and the two ranks should not be confused.

Lieutenant is a junior officer rank in the British Army and Royal Marines. It ranks above second lieutenant and below captain and has a NATO ranking code of OF-1 and it is the senior subaltern rank. Unlike some armed forces which use first lieutenant, the British rank is simply lieutenant, with no ordinal attached. The rank is equivalent to that of a flying officer in the Royal Air Force (RAF). Although formerly considered senior to a Royal Navy (RN) sub-lieutenant, the British Army and Royal Navy ranks of lieutenant and sub-lieutenant are now considered to be of equivalent status. The Army rank of lieutenant has always been junior to the Navy's rank of lieutenant.

Uniforms of the Royal Marines

The Royal Marines uniform is the standardised military dress worn by members of the Royal Marines.

References

  1. O.E.D.
  2. Los tercios españoles. La batalla de Pavía at militar.org.ua (in Spanish, unspecified authorship)
  3. "How Did "Colonel" Become "Ker-nul"? - Teachinghistory.org". teachinghistory.org. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  4. 1 2 3 George Usher, Dictionary of British Military History, A & C Black, London 2006 ISBN   978 0 7136 7507 8
  5. Mallinson 2009, p. 40.
  6. Mallinson 2009, p. 43.
  7. Le Mesurier, Havilland (1801). The British Commissary: in two parts. A system for the British Commissariat on Foreign Service. C Roworth. p. 50.
  8. List of Honorary Colonels in the British Army
  9. The life of Nelson: the embodiment of the sea power of Great Britain, Volume 1 - Alfred Thayer Mahan, 1897
  10. Smith, D. G.; Smith, Digby George (15 June 1977). "The British Army 1965-80". Bloomsbury USA. Retrieved 26 March 2018 via Google Books.