War Diaries Talk

Odd Ranks - What should we be doing with them?

  • f0rbe5 by f0rbe5

    Ral104 suggested this should be a new discussion, so here goes...

    I came across an MSM Rigby in the IV Division Artillery Collumn in September 1914 (https://talk.operationwardiary.org/#/subjects/AWD0003up4).

    Searching around the interweb I came across a useful(!) WIkipedia page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrant_officer_(United_Kingdom)) which records a (now-obsolete) Mechanist Sergeant Major, which would fit as he's in a just-mechanised unit. But more importantly the article also lists a wide range of other specialist Army WOIs and WOIIs, several of which I seem to remember featuring in diary pages I worked on some time ago (and had to ask for guidance each time I came across them).

    Would it be useful to have all/part of that list available here to help guide all?

    I think recording these odd ranks as WOI or WOII would help sweep up all these rare specialist ranks that seem to feature primarily in support units. For analysis of senior NCOs, could this be of significant benefit, rather than lots of odd ranks being dealt with incoherently as at present (is that a fair description? - I've sometimes not felt comfortable about some of the comparing with other ranks and losing detail).

    I appreciate this is all rather late in the day, considering the work already done, but there seems to be plenty of these specialist units appearing in the lists of diaries to be worked on...


  • ral104 by ral104 moderator, scientist

    Thanks, @f0rbe5. I'll pin this so people can find it easily.

    There's a key difference here between ranks (Warrant Officer is a rank) and appointments (these are job or unit-specific, like Mechanist Sergeant Major). In general, a Warrant Officer won't be referred to by their rank, but you're right that many of these appointments should be tagged as Warrant Officers.

    Of course, there's the added confusion that during the First World War, some of the appointments were actually ranks, but we won't get into that...