Lance corporal

Lance corporal is a military rank, used by many armed forces worldwide, and also by some police forces and other uniformed organisations. It is below the rank of corporal, and is typically the lowest non-commissioned officer, usually equivalent to the NATO Rank Grade OR3.


The presumed origin of the rank of lance corporal derives from an amalgamation of "corporal" from the Italian phrase capo corporale ("head of the body") with the now-archaic lancepesade, which in turn derives from the Italian lancia spezzata, which literally means "broken lance" or "broken spear", formerly a non-commissioned officer of the lowest rank. It can be translated as "one who has broken a lance in combat", and is therefore a leader.[1] "Lance" or "lances fournies" was also a term used in Medieval Europe to denote a unit of soldiers (usually 5 to 10 men strong).

Commonwealth of Nations

In Commonwealth forces, a lance corporal is usually the second-in-command of a section. Lance corporals are commonly addressed as "corporal", with "lance jack" or "half-screw" (with corporals being "full screws") being common colloquialisms for the rank. Much like the use of bombardier instead of corporal in artillery units, lance corporals are known as lance bombardiers in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.[2] The badge of rank is a single chevron worn on both sleeves or on an epaulette.

Australia and New Zealand

Lance corporal is the lowest of the non-commissioned officer ranks in the Australian Army and New Zealand Army, falling between private and corporal. It is the only appointed rank, and thus demotion is easier than with other ranks, a commanding officer can demote a lance corporal, whereas other ranks require a court martial for demotion. A lance corporal is usually the second in command of a section, and is in control of the gun group in an infantry section. There is no equivalent rank within the Royal Australian Air Force or Royal Australian Navy.

Second corporal was also formerly used in Australia in the same way that it was used in the British Army.


The Canadian Forces abolished the Canadian Army rank of lance corporal on their creation as a unified force in 1968. The rank of trained private equates to OR3 and wears the single chevron, but has no command authority. In terms of actual authority, the current rank of corporal equates most directly to the pre-unification appointment of lance corporal. In both cases, this rank was granted to the second-in-command of an infantry section.

United Kingdom

British Army and Royal Marines

British Army OR-3
British Army insignia

Lance corporal (LCpl or formerly L/Cpl) is the lowest ranking non-commissioned officer in the British Army and Royal Marines, between private and corporal (although officially they have a NATO grade of OR3, due to their having the same battlefield role of fire team commander as a sergeant in the U.S. Army they are often treated as OR5s when working with U.S. forces). The badge of rank is a single chevron worn on both sleeves, or on an epaulette on the front of the Combat Soldier 95 dress standard (although lance corporals in the Foot Guards, Honourable Artillery Company, 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards, and The Queen's Royal Hussars wear two chevrons and in the Household Cavalry two chevrons surmounted by the crown are worn). The Royal Artillery uses the term lance bombardier instead.

Corporal, East Surrey Regiment 1940
A lance corporal of the East Surrey Regiment equipped with a Thompson M1928 submachine gun (drum magazine), 25 November 1940

The designation "chosen man", used during the Napoleonic Wars, was a precursor to the rank. The date of introduction of lance corporals to the British Army is unclear. The first reference to a lance corporal in the London Gazette is in 1831.[3] However, the first mention of the rank in The Times is in 1819,[4] so it appears they existed at least from the second decade of the 19th century. The first mention in the London Gazette of a lance corporal in the Royal Marines is in 1838.[5]

Until 1 September 1961, lance corporal and lance bombardier were only appointments rather than substantive ranks, given to privates who were acting NCOs, and could be taken away by the soldier's commanding officer (whereas a full corporal or bombardier could only be demoted by court martial).[6] The Royal Engineers and Army Ordnance Corps also used the similar rank of second corporal, which was a substantive rank (also wearing one chevron), until 1920. Until 1920, bombardiers in the Royal Artillery were equivalent to second corporals and until 1918 (when the rank of lance bombardier replaced it), acting bombardiers were equivalent to lance corporals (both wearing one chevron).

In the infantry, a lance corporal usually serves as second-in-command of a section and commander of its delta fire team. It is also a rank commonly held by specialists such as clerks, drivers, signallers, machine-gunners, and mortarmen. In the Intelligence Corps and Royal Military Police, all other ranks are promoted to lance corporal on the completion of their training.

Royal Air Force

On 1 April 2010, the rank of lance corporal was introduced into the RAF Regiment, although it is not used by other branches of the Royal Air Force.[7][8] RAF Regiment lance corporals have powers of charge over aircraftmen, leading aircraftmen and senior aircraftmen, but not junior technicians or senior aircraftmen technicians, who, despite being OR2s, require a corporal or above to charge if required.[9]

Cadet Forces

The British cadet forces reflect the ranks of their parent services, so the Army Cadet Force, Army and RAF sections of the Combined Cadet Force (CCF), and the various marine cadet organisations have cadet lance corporals as their first NCO rank. In the CCF (RAF), the rank was called junior corporal until 2010. The Air Training Corps does not use the rank of lance corporal.


The equivalent of lance corporal in the Finnish Defence Forces Army and Air Forces is korpraali (Finnish) or korpral (Swedish). Although it translates as "corporal", this is not considered an NCO rank.

Typically, the promotion is given to rank-and-file conscripts who perform exceptionally well.[10] Conscripts attending the NCO course are promoted to the rank during the first half of the NCO course, prior to promotion to corporal (Finnish: alikersantti) or to being detailed to the Reserve Officer School.

Reservists in the rank of private may be promoted to the rank if they distinguish themselves during a refresher exercise or in international deployment.[11]


Kopda pdh ad
The lance corporal rank insignia of the Indonesian Army

In the Indonesian Armed Forces, the rank is known as second corporal (kopral dua or kopda) and is below the rank of first corporal and above the rank of master private.

India and Pakistan

The equivalent to lance-corporal in the British Indian Army was acting lance-daffadar in cavalry regiments and lance-naik in other units. These ranks are still used in the Indian Army and Pakistan Army.

Portugal and Brazil

In the Portuguese Army, the equivalent of a lance corporal rank used to be that of anspeçada. This rank was replaced at the end of the 19th century by the present rank of segundo-cabo (second corporal), the former rank of cabo (corporal) being renamed primeiro-cabo (first corporal).

After the independence of Brazil in 1822, the new Brazilian Army followed the Portuguese system of ranks, having also the rank of anspeçada. The rank existed also in the Brazilian States' Military Police Forces and in the Military Firefighters Corps. The rank of anspeçada was discontinued in Brazil in the first half of the 20th century.


Singapore Armed Forces

Singapore Armed Forces' insignia

The Lance Corporal (LCP) rank in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is between the rank of Private (PTE) and Corporal (CPL).[12]

Lance-corporals who are appointed second-in-command/third-in-command of a section can give commands to the rest of the section. National servicemen are usually promoted to this rank after completing their respective vocational courses and within the first year of service. Servicemen who fail to pass their Individual physical proficiency test (IPPT) during their active service will have their rank capped at LCP regardless of vocation.

A lance-corporal wears rank insignia of a single point-down chevron with an arc above it (similar to an inverted US Army PFC rank insignia).

Insignia No
Army-SGP-OR-2 Army-SGP-OR-3 Army-SGP-OR-4a Army-SGP-OR-4b
Rank Recruit Private Private
first class
Corporal Corporal
First Class

Uniformed youth organisations

In the National Cadet Corps (NCC), the National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC) and the National Civil Defence Cadet Corps (NCDCC), the rank of lance corporal is below the rank of corporal.[13][14][15] Generally, the rank is awarded to cadets in secondary two. NCC, NPCC and NCDCC lance corporals rarely, if not never, have the chance to command a squad.

NCC lance corporals wear the same rank insignia as that of the SAF, except that the letters 'NCC' are below the insignia so as to differentiate NCC cadets from SAF personnel. NPCC and NCDCC lance corporals wear the same rank insignia as that of an SPF lance corporal, except that the letters 'NPCC' and 'NCDCC' are below the insignia so as to differentiate NPCC and NCDCC cadets from Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force personnel respectively.


Sweden uses the rank of vicekorpral (previously vicekonstapel, or "vice constable", in the artillery and anti-aircraft artillery) between private and korpral. It was primarily a training grade discontinued in 1972 but reinstated in 2009.

United States


Lance corporal was a title used in the United States Army to denote privates serving as temporary non-commissioned officers. The title of lance corporal existed in the US Army since at least 1802, as the US Army Institute of Heraldry documents its first occurrence in an "unofficial journal" dated in that year. The first official use of the title of lance corporal is documented in the General Regulations for the Army, or, Military Institutes (Articles 18 and 20), authorised by an Act of Congress on 2 March 1821 and published by the War Department in July 1821 and again on 1 March 1825.

In the General Regulations for the Army of the United States (Article XVI, Paragraph 64), published on 25 January 1841, and again in the 1847 edition (Article XIII, Paragraph 121; Article XIV, Paragraph 134; and Article XLIX Paragraph 818), the title of lance corporal is authorised. (Lance corporals were to serve as assistant squad leaders.) Again, in the Revised Army Regulations of 1861 published on 10 August 1861 and in the 1863 edition "With An Appendix Containing the Changes and Laws Affecting Army Regulations And Articles Of War To June 25, 1863" (Article 40, Paragraph 971), lance corporal is authorised. Lance corporal is again authorised in Regulations of the Army of the United States and General Orders In Force on the 17th of February 1881 (Article LV, Paragraph 812) and in Regulations of the Army of the United States 1895 (Article XXXII, Paragraph 257).

In the edition of 1901 "With Appendix Separately Indexed And Showing Changes to January 1, 1901", in the Appendix, page 331, in Headquarters of the Army, General Orders, No. 42, June 30, 1897, Part II, the lance corporal is authorised to wear "...a chevron having one bar..." In Regulations for the Army of the United States 1904 (Article XXX, Paragraph 263), " company shall have more than one lance corporal at a time, unless there are noncommissioned officers absent by authority, during which absences there may be one for each absentee." This proscription appears again in Article XXX, Paragraph 272 of Regulations for the Army of the United States 1910, and the editions of 1913, and 1917 "Corrected to April 15, 1917 (Changes, Nos. 1 to 55)".

In 1920, the former lance corporal insignia of rank was assigned to private first class in War Department Circular No. 303, dated 3 August 1920. However, the Institute of Heraldry states that some US Army Tables of Organization and Equipment (TOEs) still authorised lance corporals until c.1940.

In February 1965, the US Army announced that effective from 1 September 1965, pay grade E-3 would be redesignated as lance corporal.[16] The rank insignia was to be the pre-World War II specialist grade 6 insignia of one chevron above one arc, or "rocker". However, by September 1965 the plan was cancelled.[17]

Marine Corps

Lance Corporal's arm badge (USMC)

Lance corporal (LCpl) is the third enlisted rank in order of seniority in the United States Marine Corps, just above private first class and below corporal. It is not a non-commissioned officer rank. It is the most common rank in the USMC.

The USMC is the only component of the U.S. Armed Forces to currently have lance corporals. Promotion to lance corporal is based on time in grade, time in service, and the conduct of the marine. Further promotion to the NCO ranks (corporal and above) is competitive and takes into account the individual service record of the marine. There can only be a certain number of corporals and sergeants in each MOS, so even with a qualifying score, promotions may be delayed due to an excessive number of corporals occupying billets in a certain MOS.

From the earliest years of the Corps, the ranks of lance corporal and lance sergeant were in common usage. The rank of lance corporal has been in the Marine Corps since the 1830s. Marines were appointed temporarily from the next lower rank to the higher grade but were still paid at the lower rank. As the rank structure became more firmly defined, the rank of lance sergeant fell out of use, with the rank of lance corporal remaining in the Corps into the 1930s, but this unofficial rank became redundant when the rank of private first class was established in 1917. The rank of lance corporal fell out of usage prior to World War II, before it was permanently established in the sweeping rank restructuring of 1958.[18]

See also


  1. ^ "Lance Corporal: What it means to be an E3 in the Corps". Hi-Desert Star. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  2. ^ NZ Army "Ranks in the New Zealand Army". Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  3. ^ "No. 18858". The London Gazette. 9 October 1831. p. 2068.
  4. ^ "Ceylon Government Gazette", The Times, 4 January 1819
  5. ^ "No. 19689". The London Gazette. 25 December 1838. p. 2975.
  6. ^ "Lance Corporal to Become Army Rank", The Times, 26 August 1961
  7. ^ Federation, RAF Families. "RAF Families Federation, Royal Air Force, RAF – RAF Families Federation". Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  8. ^ "New Rank for the RAF Regiment". Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  9. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-04. Retrieved 2011-06-27.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Ylennyksiä Archived 2015-07-17 at the Wayback Machine. Finnish Defence Forces. 2010-11-21. Retrieved 2015-07-16. (in Finnish) The reference gives an example of a field promotion of a private to lance corporal.
  11. ^ Reservin ylennykset Archived 2015-07-17 at the Wayback Machine. Finnish Defence Forces. 2013-10-07. (in Finnish). Retrieved 2015-07-16.
  12. ^ "SAF Military Ranks – Enlistees". Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  13. ^ "NCC Ranks and Badges". Anglo Chinese School (Independent). Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  14. ^ "National Police Cadet Corps". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  15. ^ "National Civil Defence Cadet Corps (NCDCC) / National Civil Defence Cadet Corps (NCDCC)". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  16. ^ Army Information Digest, April 1965, Page 39
  17. ^ Army Information Digest, September 1965, Page 2
  18. ^ "World War II era Marine Corps enlisted ranks". Retrieved 26 February 2015.
1915 Birthday Honours

The 1915 Birthday Honours were appointments by King George V to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by citizens of the British Empire. The appointments were made to celebrate the official birthday of The King, and were published in The London Gazette and in The Times on 3 June 1915.Many of the honours were awarded for efforts in the war. The Times noted, "The lists of Honours conferred on the occasion of the King's Birthday reflect the mood of the time, and contain, for the most part, the names of those who have been engaged in forwarding the national cause, in one way or another." A second list of birthday honours "for services rendered in connection with military operations in the field" was released on 23 June, with appointments to date from 3 June. The list included nine recipients of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Four of the recipients of the Victoria Cross were killed in actions and received the honour posthumously.The recipients of honours are displayed here as they were styled before their new honour, and arranged by honour, with classes (Knight, Knight Grand Cross, etc.) and then divisions (Military, Civil, etc.) as appropriate.

1978 Lisnamuck shoot-out

On the night of 17 March 1978 at around 21:20 a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) unit and a Special Air Service (SAS) unit became engaged in a shoot out in a field in Lisnamuck, near Maghera, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The leader of the IRA unit was Francis Hughes who was from Bellaghy, County Londonderry, who at that time was the "most wanted man" in Northern Ireland when a year earlier on 18 April 1977, Hughes, Dominic McGlinchey and Ian Milne were travelling in a car near the town of Moneymore when an RUC patrol car carrying four officers signalled them to stop. The IRA members attempted to escape by performing a u-turn, but lost control of the car which ended up in a ditch. They abandoned the car and opened fire on the RUC patrol car, killing two officers and wounding another, before running off through fields. A second RUC patrol came under fire while attempting to prevent the men fleeing, and despite a search operation by the RUC and British Army (BA) the IRA members escaped.The shoot-out occurred on St. Patricks night 1978. Lance Corporal David Jones and another soldier were in an OP near the Glenshane Pass area. At around 21:15 the troops saw two IRA volunteers wearing military style camouflage style clothing. One of the British troops apparently saw the word "Ireland" sewn on to one of the IRA volunteers clothing. Lance Corporal Jones stood up believing they might be a unit of the Ulster Defence Regiment and shouted at the men asking them what they were doing. The two IRA volunteers opened fire on the British troops. In the gun battle that ensued, Lance Corporal Jones was killed and another SAS man wounded, while Francis Hughes was badly injured and captured in a nearby field the next morning, the other IRA volunteer escaped.

Bombardier (rank)

Bombardier () is a military rank that has existed since the 16th century in artillery regiments of various armies, such as in the British Army and the Royal Prussian Army. It is today equivalent to the rank of corporal in other branches. The rank of lance-bombardier is the artillery counterpart of lance-corporal.

British Army other ranks rank insignia

The term used to refer to all ranks below officers is "other ranks" (abbreviated "ORs"). 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".

Comparative air force enlisted ranks of Africa

Rank comparison chart of enlisted rank for Air Forces of African states.

Comparative air force enlisted ranks of the Commonwealth

Rank comparison chart of air forces of Commonwealth of Nations states.

Comparative army enlisted ranks of Africa

Rank comparison chart of enlisted rank for armies/ land forces of African states.

Comparative army enlisted ranks of Asia

Rank comparison chart of armies/ land forces of Asian states.

Comparative army enlisted ranks of Europe

Rank comparison chart of all armies and land forces of European states.

Comparative army enlisted ranks of Oceania

Rank comparison chart of armies/ land forces of Oceania states.

Comparative army enlisted ranks of the Americas

Rank comparison chart of armies/ land forces of North and South American states.

Comparative army enlisted ranks of the Commonwealth

Rank comparison chart of armies/ land forces of Commonwealth of Nations states.


Corporal is a military rank in use in some form by many militaries and by some police forces or other uniformed organizations. Within NATO, each member nation's corresponding military rank of corporal is combined under the NATO-standard rank scale code OR-3 or OR-4. However, there are often differences in how each nation (or service in each nation) employs corporals. Some militaries don't have corporals, but may instead have a Junior Sergeant.

In some militaries, the rank of corporal nominally corresponds to commanding a section or squad of soldiers. However, in the United States Army, the rank of corporal is considered a "lateral promotion" from E-4 Specialist and usually only occurs when the soldier has been selected by a promotion board to become an E-5 Sergeant and is serving in an E-5 billet such as a fireteam leader in a rifle squad. The lateral promotion is used to make the soldier a non-commissioned officer without changing the soldier's pay. As the Table of Organization & Equipment (TO&E) rank of a fire team leader is sergeant and that of squad leader is staff sergeant. In the United States Marine Corps, corporal is the Table of Organization (TO) rank for a rifle fire team leader, machine gun team leader, light mortar squad leader, and assault weapon squad leader, as well as gunner on most larger crew served weapons (i.e. medium mortars, heavy machine guns, and anti-tank missiles), armored vehicles (e.g. tanks, light armored vehicles, and armored assault vehicles), and the two assistant gunners on a howitzer (the gunner is a sergeant).

In most countries that derive their military structure from the British military system, corporal is a more senior rank than that of private. However, in several other countries, such as Canada, Italy and Norway, corporal is a junior rank, indicating a more experienced soldier than a private, and also on a higher pay scale, but having no particular command appointment corresponding to the rank, similar to specialist in the U.S. Army.

Lance-corporal of horse

Lance Corporal of Horse (LCoH) is an appointment unique to the Household Cavalry of the British Army, equivalent to Lance Sergeant in the Foot Guards. It was introduced in 1971. On promotion to Corporal, an NCO is automatically appointed Lance Corporal of Horse, so that the rank structure effectively goes straight from Lance Corporal to Lance Corporal of Horse, and then to Corporal of Horse. However, Lance Corporals of horse are still addressed as "Corporal".

A Lance Corporal of Horse wears three rank chevrons surmounted by a cloth crown (as opposed to the metal crowns worn by full Corporals of Horse).

The rank was introduced to fall in line with Lance Sergeants in the Foot Guards allowing them to use the Sergeants' mess.

Lance Corporal Jones

Lance Corporal Jack Jones is a fictional Home Guard platoon lance corporal, veteran of the British Empire and butcher, portrayed by Clive Dunn in the BBC television sitcom Dad's Army. His catchphrases are "Don't panic!", "Permission to speak, sir?" and "They don't like it up 'em!". Jones also often recounts his past military experiences particularly those in Sudan and India and gives a glimpse to the military traditions and events in the concluding years of the 19th century.

Ranks in the French Air Force

Rank insignia in the French air force are worn on the sleeve or on shoulder marks of uniforms

The Armoured Might of Lance Corporal Jones

The Armoured Might of Lance Corporal Jones is the first episode of the third series of the British comedy series Dad's Army. It was originally transmitted on Thursday 11 September 1969.

The Desperate Drive of Corporal Jones

The Desperate Drive of Corporal Jones is the fifth episode of the fifth series of the British comedy series Dad's Army. It was originally transmitted on 3 November 1972.

United States Army enlisted rank insignia of World War I

The United States Army's enlisted rank insignia that was used during World War I differs from the current system. The color scheme used for the insignia's chevron was olive drab for field use uniforms or one of several colors (depending on the corps) on dress uniforms. The chevron system used by enlisted men during World War I came into being in 1895, and was changed to a different system in 1919. Specification 760, which was dated May 31, 1905 contained 45 different enlisted insignia that varied designs and titles by different corps of the army. General Order Number 169, which was enacted on August 14, 1907, created an even larger variety of enlisted rank insignia. Pay grades were not yet in use by the U.S. Army. The pay system identified the job assignment of the soldier. By the end of World War I, the system contained 128 different insignia designs.

United States enlisted ranks
Pay grade
Branch of service
E-1 E-2 E-3 E-4 E-5 E-6 E-7 E-8 E-9
Private 2
Private first class
Specialist Corporal
Staff Sergeant
Sergeant first class
Master Sergeant First Sergeant
Sergeant Major Command Sergeant Major Sergeant Major of the Army
Private first class
Lance Corporal
Staff Sergeant
Gunnery Sergeant
Master Sergeant First sergeant
Master Gunnery Sergeant Sergeant Major Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Seaman recruit
Seaman apprentice
Petty Officer Third Class
Petty Officer Second Class
Petty Officer first class
Chief Petty Officer
Senior Chief Petty Officer Command Senior Chief Petty Officer
Master Chief Petty Officer Command Master Chief Petty Officer Fleet Master Chief Petty Officer / Force Master Chief Petty Officer Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
Airman basic
Airman first class
Senior Airman
Staff Sergeant
Technical sergeant
Master Sergeant Master Sergeant
MSgt1st Sgt
Senior Master Sergeant Senior Master Sergeant
SMSgt1st Sgt
Chief Master Sergeant Chief Master Sergeant Command Chief Master Sergeant Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force
Seaman Recruit
Petty Officer Third Class
Petty Officer Second Class
Petty Officer first class
Chief Petty Officer
Senior Chief Petty Officer
Master Chief Petty Officer Command Master Chief Petty Officer Area Command Master Chief Petty Officer, CMC Reserve Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard


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