The practices throughout the history of the Regiment come and go, and over time you see reference to “Lance” rank but only used in the Regiment as an Acting Corporal. During the Second World War you see the use of Lance Corporal on parade states and promotion list but you will not see a photo of the wearing of a one chevron on the uniforms of any QOR Rifleman. Simply they just wore the rank of Corporal since it is an Acting Corporal rank in a Rifle Regiment. Below is a write up of a Memo that was written for the Regiment in 1942 but rewritten in 1954.
MEMO: RE: LANCE CORPORALS
ARMY HISTORICAL RESEARCH, VOLUME V, 1926
This book contains quite a lengthy and comprehensive article entitled “The Lancespessade and the History of Lance Rank” in the British Army, and covers a period of several hundred years, giving quotations from many authoritative sources on the subject.
The following are several quotations taken from the article:
“The term lance as a qualifying prefix to non-commissioned ranks, is peculiar to the British Army today, and is an interesting link with that period which the Military Organization of the Middle Ages was being transferred into that which, in its essentials, is still current: that is to say, with the end of the 15th, and the beginning of the 16th centuries. The word is derived from the italian lancia spezzata, literally a broken or shattered lance, Lance Corporal usually defined as the title of that rank which was granted to the lowest officer that “hath any commandment” and “signifies Deputie Corporal.”
“By the beginning of the 17th century, in England at least, the Lancespessade had become and Infantryman only, and almost exactly the equivalent of the Lance Corporal of present day.”
“Lance the Corporal of the Cavalry unit is to supply and do all duties of the Corporals and Lancespessades of the Foote.” The definition of a Lancespessade is given as “he that commands over ten soldiers, the lowest officer in a foot company.”
The article makes it quite clear that the rank of Lance Corporal was peculiar to the Infantry alone in the British Army, until long after the organization of Rifle Regiments, and it contains no reference to this rank ever having been introduced into Rifle Regiments.
REGULATIONS FOR RIFLE CORPS.
These Regulations were originally issued in 1800, by Colonel Coote Manningham, who is usually referred to as the originator of rifle regiments, and has become the first Commanding Officer of the Rifle Corps, now the Rifle Brigade. They are reprinted in a book bearing the same title, published in 1890, with certain amendments added.
Article 11 dealing with the Formation of the Corps, in so far as it relates to Sergeants and Corporals states as follows:
“The four Sergeants are to command a half platoon or squad each. The senior Corporal of each company is to act as Sergeant in the first squad.
The four Corporals are to be divided to the four half platoons. One soldier of peculiar merit is to act in each company as Corporals, and to belong to the third squad.
The Acting Sergeant and Acting Corporal are to be the only non-commissioned officers transferable from squad to squad.
In every half platoon one soldier of merit will be selected and upon him the charge of the squad devolves in the absence of both non-commissioned officers of it. As from these four Chosen Men (As they are called) all Corporals and Acting Corporals are to be appointed, the best men alone are to be selected for this distinction.
The graduation of rank and responsibility, from the Colonel of the Regiment to the Chosen Man of a squad, has how been detailed, and on no instance to be varied by whatever officer may command it.”
STANDING ORDERS OF THE RIFLE BRIGADE
These Standing Orders issued in 1911, make no mention of Lance rank, wither in the text or in the various sample forms of parade states, reports, etc., in the back of the book. Acting Corporals are shown.
Article 11 – Formation of the Regiment, section 18 states:
“Corporals and Acting Corporals are responsible to the Sergeants of their respective sections.”
A copy of the Standing orders referred to above was received by me from the O.C. The Rifle Brigade in 1925, and he states at that time that they were the last published Standing Orders, and that no material changes or amendments had been made since date of issue.
THE KING’S ROYAL RIFLE CORPS
In several volumes of the above covering a period of from 1820 up to some time in the 1890’s. There are a number of parade states, casualty lists, awards of various kinds such as good conduct badges, marksmen’s badges, etc., I could not find in these volumes any reference to Lance rank, but Acting Corporals are mentioned.
THE QUEEN’S OWN RIFLES OF CANADA
RE: LANCE RANK
Regimental Orders are complete from the first R.O. Issued in 1860 until the present date, and are on file in the records of the Regiment.
From the first R.O. Issued in April 26, 1860 until 1866, there is no mention of Lance rank in any form whatever. There were, however, appointments made as Acting Corporals.
R.O. May 19, 1865 states “The proper regulation chevrons for NCO’s of the QOR are as follows and will be worn on both arms:
For Corporals – 2 black stripes on a red ground.”
There is no mention of Lance Corporals, or the chevrons that they would wear.
In R.O. January 22, 1866, the promotion of a private to the rank of Lance Corporal appears for the first time. Further promotions to that rank appear in subsequent orders up to the year 1874, when they cease, and from that year on appointments to be Acting Corporals appear again, and continue to the present time. There has not been an appointment to Lance rank since 1874, a period of 68 years.
No R.O. Appears in 1865, 1866 or any subsequent year authorizing Lance rank, nor does any R.O. Appear in 1874 or subsequent years abolishing them.
NOMINAL ROLLS FOR ANNUAL MUSTER
The nominal rolls of all companies and units of the Regiment for the Annual Muster parade each year are complete from 1860 until the present time, and are on file in the records.
On these Muster Rolls Acting Corporals appear from 1860 until 1865 inclusive. In the years 1866 to 1874 Lance Corporals appear, and commencing with the year 1875 until the present time Acting Corporals are shown, but no Lance Corporals.
REGIMENTAL STANDING ORDERS
Regimental Standing Orders were issued only in the years 1862, 1872, 1880, 1883, and 1925. Copies of all these are on file in the records.
There is no mention in any of these Standing Orders of Lance rank, not even in those issued in 1872, a year in which some Lance Corporals existed in the Regiment. The lowest rank mentioned is that or Corporal, and the lowest rank badges provided for this is of Corporal.
Lance rank originated in the Foot Regiments, later Infantry, of the British Army, and was peculiar to that branch of the service for several hundred years. During the 19th century it was adopted by some other red-coated regiments of other branches of the service, but not by Rifle Regiments.
Lance rank was not in force in The Rifle Brigade in 1925, as will be seen by their Standing Orders issued in 1911, and the statement of the [Officer Commanding] that unit in 1925, and it is extremely unlikely that it now exists in that regiment.
Lance rank was not in force in The King’s Royal Rifle Corps as will be seen from their chronicle up to the South African War.
The Queen’s Own Rifles, when authorized as a rifle regiment, on organization in 1860, undoubtedly adopted the “Regulations for Rifle Corps” as was practised at the time by The Rifle Brigade and The King’s Royal Rifle Corps.
The deviation from Regulations for Rifle Corps and the Standing orders of the Regiment, in The Queen’s Own Rifles from 1866 to 1874 is hard to account for now.
It is possible that the Officer Commanding in 1866, through carelessness or otherwise, permitted this unauthorized deviation from the Regulations to creep in. It is quite clear, however, that he did not provide for the change in Regimental Orders, nor did he change the Standing Orders to provide for it.
By 1872, another Officer Commanding was in command of the Regiment. He revised Standing Orders in 1872, but again no provision was made for Lance rank.
By 1874, the late General Sir William Otter has assumed Command of the Regiment, and was, as is well known, a great stickler for regulations of the service and tradition. It is quite evident that it was he who abolished the unauthorized Lance rank in the Regiment no doubt to conform with the standing Orders of the Regiment which were based upon the “Regulations for Rifle Corps.”
He did not issue an order abolishing Lance rank, probably because there had never been a regimental order authorizing it, but just let it fade out.
With the exception, therefore, of the short period 1866-1874, when Lance rank was entirely unauthorized in The Queen’s Own Rifles, it has not existed in the Regiment. Nor has there been at any time during the Regiment’s 82 years of existence, and order authorizing it in the Regimental Standing orders.
It is quite clear from the foregoing, that The Queen’s Own Rifles, in having Acting Corporals instead of lance Corporals, is following not only a Regimental custom, but a Rifle custom which was duly authorized on the organization of Rifle regiments in the British Service, and is still the practice in two of the best known Rifle regiments in the British Army.
I hope you enjoyed this article as it shows reflection into the history and traditions of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and our sister regiment’s in England. Throughout my research and studying of photos of The Queen’s Own Rifles throughout the history I have only found one photo (pictured below) that shows the wearing of one chevron and this photo was taken when the Regiment was deployed to Korea in 1955. After the above article was written you will see in photos the addition of a QOR Collar Dog above the Corporal Chevron (pictured below) which would be the present “Master Corporal” or meaning the Section Commander.
Here is a visual of what a Rifleman would have looked like on D-Day.
Field Service Marching Order with respirator slung. Gas cape rolled on Belt. Veil camouflage around neck. Shell dressing under netting of helmet. Emergency rations in hip pocket.
A.V. Battle dress will be worn, patches, (Canada & QOR), sewn on, when other collected.
The A.V. Battle dress will be worn for a minimum of 48 hrs, as soon as possible. If any effects on body are noticed, they will be reported immediately.
Holdall (towel, soap, razor, etc.)
Knife, fork and spoon
24 hour rations
4 x 2
Pair of socks
Boots (anklets if required)
Boot brush, dubbin & polish
3 pairs socks
Greatcoat packed on outside of pack, held on by kicking straps
Respirator of Assault marching personnel only attached to pack.
G-1018 blanket, folded as for kit layout rolled in ground sheet, strongly lied and properly labelled. (This makes a roll about 2 ½ feet long.)
All packs, Haversacks, Greatcoats (inside belt), ground sheet, to be marked with Rank, Name, Number and Coy mark.
Assault troops are all that land on “D” day.
1 suit of denim to be collected at a later date.
Serge suit for all assault personnel, both riding & marching, less those with coys, will be turned in when notified to coy stores. They will be marked as laid down. They will be returned after “D” day.
Serge suit for those on follow up vehicles will be put in their Blanket rolls.
Here are some Pre Invasion photos from our Archives:
To see the War Diaries for Pre and Invasion visit the link below
The Queen’s Own mobilized for the Second World War on 24 May 1940. The Regiment’s first assignment was the defence of the two strategic airfields of Botwood and Gander, Newfoundland then a posting to New Brunswick for additional training and integration into 8th Brigade. Eventually, the Regiment was posted to England, in July 1941, as a part of the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade of the 3rd Canadian Division. During the Regiment’s training in the UK, the Colonel-in-Chief, Queen Mary, visited the battalion in Aldershot.
The Queen’s Own’s first action came forming part of the assault wave of the D-Day invasion, 6 June 1944. The Dalton brothers — Majors Charles O. and H. Elliott– were the assault company commanders in the landing. The Regiment hit the beach at the small Normandy seaside resort of Bernieres-sur-Mer, shortly after 0800 hours, on 6 June 1944. They fought through Normandy, Northern France, and into Belgium and Holland, where they liberated the crucial channel ports. In capturing the tiny farming hamlet of Mooshof, Germany, Sergeant Aubrey Cosens was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
The last action of the war for The Queen’s Own Rifles came at 1200 hours on 4 May, when C Company attacked a cross roads just east of Ostersander, Germany. It was taken by 1500 hours, and the order came to discontinue fire on the enemy unless fired upon. Unfortunately, two members of The Queen’s Own lost their lives on this the last day of the war in Europe. The official cease-fire came at 0800 hours on 5 May 1945 followed by VE Day on 8 May. The battalion paraded to a church at Mitte Grossefehn and Major H.E. Dalton, now the acting Commanding Officer, addressed the Regiment. During the war 463 Queen’s Own were killed in action and are buried in graves in Europe and almost 900 were wounded, many two or three times. Sixty more QOR personnel were killed serving with other units in Hong Kong, Italy and Northwest Europe.
During the mobilization of the Regiment in 1940 the regiment was sent straight to Camp Borden (CFB Borden). There, the Regiment got its first issue of uniforms which consisted of; Canadian Battle Dress trousers and blouse, shirt, ammo boots, Anklets, and the pre-war QOR wedge cap. The QOR has been using the Rifleman green wedge cap ever since roughly the 1870s. The cap is a green melton wool with a scarlet Pom-pom attached to the front as well as two Rifleman small buttons. Scarlet piping is added along the top seam of the cap as well the QOR cap badge mounted on the left side.
Request for approval of the wearing of Coloured F.S. Cap NDHQ 14 October 1940
Coloured F.S. Cap
Reg H.200-1-17 of 7 Sept.
The coloured F.S. Cap worn by this Regiment, both 1st and 2nd battalions, is described below. It has been in use for many years but it is not known whether or not details are in possession of N.D.H.Q.
The pattern of the cap is slightly different from the issue cap, being more rounded in front.
Colour of cap, flaps and crown – Black
Piping top, front and back seems – Black
No piping on flaps.
Scarlet grenade 1″ in diameter attached at front of top where two top seams meet.
Height of flap at back……………….. 2 1/4″
Height of crown seam, midway….. 4″
Height of crown seam, 1/4 way back
from front seam……………… 3 3/4″
Height of junction of top seams
at front…………………………2 1/2″
Colour of cap, glaps and crown – Rifle Green.
Piping top, front and back seams – Scarlet.
No piping on flaps.
Scarlet wool ball 1″ in diameter attached at front of top where two top seams meet.
The collar of the battle dress may be worn open on all occasions during the summer season.
The regulation Khaki shirt will be worn with battle dress. The wearing of various coloured shirts and collars is not permitted.
Other ranks will not wear ties
The collar of the blouse may be lined to protect the neck.
The ribands of orders, decorations, and medals will be worn in undress, service dress and battle dress in the prescribed manner.
7 August 1940 Botwood and Gander, Newfoundland
6 December 1940 Sessex, New Brunswick
Before leaving Borden in August 1940 the Regiments dress was fresh new stocks of the new Canadian made battle dress uniform. Consisting of ankle boots, ankle gators, wool trousers, suspenders, wool tunic, and wool greatcoat. As well, Canadian-made Pattern 37 webbing which consisted of basic front pouches, web belt, cross straps, canteen and holder, entrenching tool and sheath, bayonet frog, and the chest respirator were included. Additionally, Canadian-made denim working uniforms were adopted for use in training and work around camp. The headdress was the QOR pre-war Rifleman green field service cap, the Mk1 helmet, or a wool winter toque. Shoulder insignia was a black pin-on QOR title or a worsted black QOR on a wool slip-on worn on the epaulette of the battledress. The standard rifle was the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield No. 1 Mk. III* with the long bayonet (termed a ‘sword’ in Rifle regiments) which had been in use since the First World War. Transferring from Newfoundland to Sussex, New Brunswick several changes occurred with the exchange of the Mk1 helmet to the new Mk2 helmet, and the adoption of a winter wool cap. This was worn squarely on the head with the Regimental cap badge fixed centre on the front of the front flap of the cap.
Wearing of Chevrons on Greatcoats; Chevrons will be worn on both arms of greatcoats in the following manner: – above the elbow, the points of the 1 bar chevrons 9 inches, the 2 bar 9 ½ inches, and the 3 bar 10 ½ inches from the top of the sleeve, point downwards.
Attention is drawn by the Brigade Major to the following Brigade Orders.
(a) Winter caps will be brought into wear for all purposes with effect from 27 Nov. 1940
(b) Greatcoats and/or overshoes may be worn in camp and on training parades at the discretion of Officers Commanding units.
(c) Until further orders greatcoats and overshoes will be worn on all parades, both training and ceremonia,l at which more than one unit is present.
(d) Greatcoats will be worn on all occasions in “Walking-Out Order” on duty in the town of Sussex and on leave or pass until further orders. Overshoes may be worn at discretion of Officers Commanding units in “Walking-Out Order”.
Wearing of Winter Caps; Winter caps will be worn squarely on the head. (Bde. Order 176)
With the transfer of the Regiment to England in July 1941, a number of changes to the accoutrement of the Regiment occurred. The change from the QOR pin-on or worsted QOR slip-on to a red stitched “QUEEN’S OWN RIFLES” on a rifle green backing occurred. Since the shoulder title didn’t include “CANADA”, the QOR adopted the white-stitched “CANADA” title – either curved or straight – which was stitched below the Regimental shoulder title. Also, we see the addition of a QOR Decal on the Mk II helmet which consisted of a red, green, red, green, and red. At this time, each Regiment in the Canadian military was permitted to adopt a lanyard colour. The QOR retained their red lanyard, which differs from the the black lanyard worn by today’s Rifle regiments. This red lanyard was worn until the end of the war.
22 May 1925 Standing Orders and Instructions
204. WHISTLE CORD shall be of red cord worn around left arm under shoulder strap.
15 Dec. 1942 Standing Orders and Instructions
(b) Officers will wear black anklets and boots and black ties with battledress, in field service dress, black shoes and socks, black tie and F.S.Green.
(e) A red whistle cord will be worn on the left shoulder by all officers, warrant officers and sergeants.
(i) Some of the irregularities noticed in the dress of the Cdn. Corps are as follows:
The wearing of canvas shoes when walking out. The battle dress blouse undone at neck, except when marching easy. Men either without F.S. Cap or carrying it under shoulder strap.
(j) Badges – On joining the unit each man will be provided free with regt. Badges, cap, shoulder badges Q.O.R., Canada and Div. Patch also cap F.S. Green. From then on he will be held responsible that he is always in possession of these articles.
(k) The F.S. Cap green will not be worn when on duty with troops, but will be only worn off duty, church parades or when walking out.
(o) Chin straps and regimental flashes will be worn on the left side of the helmet.
(p) Good conduct Stripes are awarded after two years good service and are worn on the left arm below the elbow.
Order of dress
Uniformity of dress is to be stressed at all times.
(a) Battle Order
Battle Dress – anklets
Steel Helmet (With of without net as ordered)
Web Equipment (braces to be worn)
Respirator (slung over right shoulder under waistbelt. Mounted personnel will wear respirator at alert)
Water Bottle (on right side)
Haversack (with ground sheet or gas cape as ordered)
Sword under left arm
Gas cape (on shoulder if ordered)
(b) Marching Order
As above except – pack carried in place of haversack.
Haversack slung at left side.
Respirator at “Alert Position”.
(c) Fatigue Order
Battle dress, denim and boots.
Other equipment as ordered
(d) Church Parade Order
Battle Dress and anklets.
F.S. Green Cap.
Respirator and helmet (if ordered)
(e) Guard and Picket Order
Battle Dress and anklets
Respirator at “alert position”
Gase Cape (rolled on shoulder)
(f) Walking Out Order
F.S. Green Cap
Anklets – (may or may not be worn).
Black shoes and socks may be worn by those in possession of them in lieu of boots.
(g) Drill Order with Pouches
Web braces, belts & pouches
Sword at left side of the belt
Battledress and anklets
(h) Piquet Order
F.S. Khaki cap
Waistbelt and sidearm
Battledress and anklet
With the formation of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, the QOR was place in its 8th Brigade with Le Regiment de la Chaudiere and the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment. The Divisional formation patch was of French Grey Melton wool fabric which measured 3 inches by 2 inches. A number of shades of this French Grey were seen throughout the war.
Starting in 1941, the headdress of the Canadians changed from the pre-war QOR Rifleman Green Wedge to a Khaki wool “Field Service Cap”. This was worn with a slight angle to the right and centred on the head. The location in which the QOR cap badge was mounted was on the left side similar to the QOR rifle green wedge cap.
1943 In mid 1943, the headdress of the Canadians changed once again with the adoption of the beret. In keeping with rifleman tradition, the wearing of a rifle green backing behind the cap badge was authorized. The backing was of Melton Rifle Green wool and roughly measured 25cm by 25 cm with the Cap Badge centred within the patch. The wearer would have the leather band of the beret two fingers over the eye brows with the Cap badge over the middle of the left eye. The excess material was draped over the right side and pulled back.
In 1943-44, a different QOR cap badge was introduced. Mainly seen on replacements of this time period, the cap badge contains less detail and the Arabic number “2” less defined.
1944 With the coming invasion of France, the 3rd Division was issue additional kit and equipment. The most noticeable was the Mk III “turtle shell” helmet which offered more protection for the wearer than the Mk II helmet.
The second most noticeable change was the adoption of the high-top buckle boots which were tried in Italy and widely issued to the 3rd Division. This lead to the term “3rd Div boots” or “Invasion boots”. Constructed with 9 eyelets and a buckle at the top of the boot, these boots put on a more modern look and were sought-after boots.
“Invasion boots” – QOR Musuem’s Collection
Introduced around mid-1944 was the British-made canvas insignia. Examples of this come in the 3rd Division French Grey flashes, Canada titles, and “QUEEN’S OWN RIFLES” shoulder titles. These had a tendency to fade and fray. This characteristic was not desireable.
1945 Introduced to all Companies of the Battalion on March 19 1945 was the “Windproof Smock” which is know as today. “Coys issued with sniper jackets which beside being good camouflage are quite serviceable and waterproof” (War Diary March 19 1945 Reichswald Forest, Germany)
With the war coming to a close, the QOR was put onto occupation duty in 1945-46. To display that they were an occupation force, a single 2 cm wide occupation bar was added at the base of the 3rd Division patch. With the QOR being the senior Regiment in this Brigade, a green occupation bar was added on top of the 3rd Division patch as well.
Battledress number A is a 1945-46 occupation blouse. Notice the addition of the occupation stripe and the tailored collar with black cloth.
Battledress number B is the Battledress of the Commanding Officer of the Occupation force, Lt. Col. J. N. Medhurst OBE ED 4th Bn, QOR of C (CAOF) 8 June 1945 – 25 December 1945.
As well, a new QOR shoulder title was introduced with a more foliage green backing and hand-embroidered “QUEEN’S-OWN-RIFLES”. As well the custom of blackening web gear is seen again during 1945-46 period mainly walking out belts, pistol, pistol ammunition pouches and ankle gators.
Thank you for reading! Any additional information, questions or correction please send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested how the Enlisted men of the Regiment looked during the trip to England in 1910? Well we have the answer for you!
1910 Prior to the departure of the QOR contingent to England Sir Henry Pellatt outfitted the Regiment in a Khaki wool uniform. The construction of this tunic had a stiff rifle green collar, seven small silver buttons that had a blacken tinge to them, two on the upper pockets yet none on the bottom slack pockets and rifle green epaulettes that have brass/silver QOR title. The use of normal QOR rank with Black Braid on Red was not used but the regular White braid on Khaki was as well as the standard QOR collar dogs on the collar. 1905 model Khaki high waisted pants were worn with Puttees wrapped around the calf and ankles. At this time Oliver Pattern Webbing was used as well the Canadian made Ross Rifle 1905 model and bayonet. This was in use by the Regiment up until the out break of world war one which saw the uniforms used until Valcartier and replaced before shipping to England with the 3rd Battalion CEF.
The headdress of the time was the new model 1905 Khaki Service dress peaked cap . The overall construction of the cap is made out of a Khaki Wool including the peak. As with Rifle Regiment tradition a Wool Green band was added around the upper part of the base of the headdress. The Regimental Cap Badge would be fixed centre of the Peaked cap.