1. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    British army ranks

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Tenderiser, Sep 6, 2015.

    I have been trying to research this but I'm not finding the information I need. Does anybody know what is the highest soldier rank feasible for a 21 year old to hold in the British army? I found a newspaper article about a 23 year old woman who was a corporal, but the British army website said this rank is achieved after 6-8 years AND after certain training. It sounds like she did very well to achieve that by 23 and it wouldn't be feasible at 21?

    This character is supposed to have been an unusually good soldier so he should have achieved the highest rank possible, but it must be possible.

    It's not a huge plot point, at all, but it's important to me to get it right.

    Any help gratefully received!
     
  2. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    There can definitely be exceptions in wartime, when more promotions occur.
     
  3. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Thank you, that's good to know.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    During war they are called "field promotions". They happen for many reasons, not least of which is when a vital position that requires a certain rank to hold is suddenly vacated because of a casualty. Form is very important in the military and if the position calls for a corporal or a sergeant, and there is no one of that rank at hand, then someone's getting a promotion on the spot.
     
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  5. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    So if I refer to him as a corporal, and make it clear that he was engaged in actual fighting rather than just training, that will probably be realistic?
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    If you're after good realism, please note that field promotions are actually more rare than my description may make sound. There are other dynamics in play that make certain groupings of individuals rather perfunctory and one casualty is not likely to create an event where a field promotion happens because there should be at least a few others of the given rank at hand. Hollywood loves the field promotion as a device because it's dramatic and creates tension and emotive connection for/with the person getting the promotion. Field promotions during war become more likely the further up the ranks one looks because there are fewer and fewer of a given rank the higher you go. Corporals aren't that rare on the front line. I'm not saying it can't happen, but those are the dynamics in play.

    ETA: For a field promotion to happen solely based on merit, and not because a slot needs filling (this does also happen), the soldier's performance would need to be pretty darned meritorious. It certainly has happened, and we're talking about the kind of meritorious service that could form the basis of a novel all by itself, not just as a side-note. ;)
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    BTW, can't you just have the character be a bit older? You mention finding a reference to someone of 23 years of age having achieved it in real life but your character is 21. I'm a bit older than that and to me 21 and 23 years of age are identical. :bigoops:
     
  8. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Ah ha. I don't think he was THAT amazing. He has to be good enough to be noticed by his superiors and singled out as someone worth a "special project" but he's not some kind of superhero. Would Lance Corporal be more realistic?

    Promotion to Lance Corporal may follow after Phase 2 Training or after about 3 years as a private. Lance Corporals are required to supervise a small team of up to four soldiers called a section. They also have opportunities to specialise and undertake specialist military training

    Unfortunately not. He has to leave the army at 21 to be at the right age when the novel starts. I would have to then alter a bunch of other characters' ages to make things make sense and create myself a real headache!
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, perhaps. Army ranks in the U.S. are wee bit different. For us a Lance Corporal is equivalent to a Private First Class, and a PFC of 21 years of age would be pretty normative. You'll want to research, also, if there are factors for the British Army that can have someone come in to service already at a higher rank than normally would happen. I was in JROTC my entire high school career and also in a few other youth paramilitary groups. This got me into the USAF directly as an A1C (Airman First Class), which is the U.S. Air Force's equivalent of a British Corporal. And that was from day one for me. I'm not sure if the British military has any similar dynamic, but if it does, this would be an easy fix. :)
     
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  10. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It's so complicated! I bow down to the "write what you know" rule.
     
  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Or.... don't let a small detail like this stop you from writing a good story. :) Few people are going to even know this information, much less bother to research it.

    Example:

    In the film ALIENS, every single actor (save for Al Matthews who played Sgt. Apone) is way, way, waaaaaayyyyy too old for the rank they hold in the storyline. Most of them are privates and all of them are clearly in their mid 30's. This is supposed to be an elite special forces group of Marines. Special Ops. These are supposed to be the baddest of the badasses. A private is an 18 or 19 year-old person. A 30 year-old private in the Marine Corp doesn't exist. That marine would have been given walking papers long ago for not achieving promotion to the next rank. ;)
     
  12. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I know, I know, you're totally right. I'm just a perfectionist about some things. The rank is actually mentioned in Chapter 8 so I haven't let it hold me back, but it keeps bugging me.

    I think I'm going to leave it as Corporal for now. I messaged a friend whose brother is in the British army so he might have a definite answer for me. If not, I'll try not to let this single word among 111,434 bring me down ;)
     
  13. Iain Wood
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    Iain Wood Member

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    Hi Tenderiser...

    I was a Lance Corporal at the age of 21 and although I have never thought about it before, I’m sure there were others who were promoted younger than that.
    If someone is extremely proficient at something and you ‘get on’ with the right people, then the rank will be provided.., especially if they see they are about to loose you.

    Quote “highest soldier rank”?
    Officers leaving Sandhurst join a battalion about this age and they’ll obviously start off as 2nd Lieutenant. (one pip) And if that Officer is in the Guards and has a Major General as a father, rest assured that he’ll soon have more pips than a lemon. Lol...


    Kind Regards..., Iain.

    http://img138.imageshack.us/img138/3994/scotsguards.jpg

     
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  14. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Thank you Iain, that is really useful!
     
  15. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    I don't really know a whole lot about this stuff, but one of my old high school friends was in the British army for a few years and he left as a Corporal. He did spend time in Iraq and Afghanistan, though. So as far as I know, it's pretty feasible for someone to get promoted from Private to Corporal even after a couple years.
     
  16. Iain Wood
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    Iain Wood Member

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    Anecdote relative to rank in the Guards:

    Queen Victoria looked out of a window while her Guard was being changed. Looking carefully, she suddenly took a dislike to Lance Corporals with one chevron.
    “Provide them all with two” she ruled, “looks better”! Then sauntered off !

    As such and ever since, all non-commissioned officers in the Guards, (NCO’s) start off as Lance Corporal but they have two chevrons.
    A Corporal will have 3 while presenting him/herself to the public as a Sergeant. A Sergeant, (third rank) he’ll have three plus a red diagonal sash.
    Their pay remains the same and is not in relation to the additional stripe !

    This situation is not appreciated outside the Guards Division, because three-chevron Corporals are allowed into all Sergeant Messes throughout the British Army.

    But then again..., why not..., we are after all the best ! Lol...
     
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  17. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is difficult to get too far by 21, but I imagine you might reach at least Crazy-Anchor or Billy-Bob Frontline status. If not, maybe Sergeant.
     
  18. Iain Wood
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    Iain Wood Member

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    Lol... 'Quite true'!

    Nonetheless, don't forget that at the age of 15, a Guardsman can start climbing the ranks. (Junior Soldier) Before the age of 18, he can attain the rank of Company Sergeant Major..., and his pay is relative to his rank !!

    ..., Iain.
     

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