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  #1  
Old 06-04-21, 03:21 PM
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Padre Padre is offline
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Default Very Early Royal Air Force Ranks

Hi

I am looking for some help with very early Royal Air Force ranks, which so far I have not been able to find official explanation or sanction for.

The first is featured in the photo below of two RAF Airmen on a motorcycle circa 1918/19. Both are wearing the first pattern khaki uniform with caps, button fastening belt, brass buttons, shoulder eagles and clearly, the RAF Airmans brass cap badge. But the puzzling thing is that both are wearing a single Lance Corporal chevron, a rank not part of the RAF until a couple of years ago when the rank was introduced for the RAF Regiment. Wearing the RAF cap badge and shoulder eagles they are clearly not Army seconded to RFC or RAF, or even Army jokingly wearing RAF caps for the photo. Any explanation?

The second refers to a Warrant Officer rank, as displayed by Sam Kydd in the film 'Reach For The Sky'. The RAF had two Warrant Officer ranks from its formation - 1st Class, wearing the Royal Coat of Arms, and 2nd Class, wearing the large crown, both badges in brass or cloth form, the latter discontinued in late 1939. This scene from the film relates to about 1930 and shows 'Mr Blake (Sam Kydd as Warrant Officer Blake) wearing the large crown within a wreath, usually worn by an Army CQMS. Yes, I know its a film, but other aspects are very accurate, and it seems strange to show a badge that was 'never' part of RAF uniform. Also, I have seen other references to the badge as being RAF, but I have never seen an official order authorising it, nor period photos etc. Can anyone give an explanation, or details? Many thanks
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File Type: jpg Royal Air Force 1918 (2).jpg (39.3 KB, 64 views)
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  #2  
Old 07-04-21, 02:51 PM
grumpy grumpy is offline
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Sorry cannot help directly but crown in wreath had three iterations:

first: for the very most senior tranche of army warrant officers as then was: Conductor c. 1899, then staggered over a few years for his equals, the First Class Staff Sergeant Majors and the Master Gunner First class [all by 1915],

then with the major revision of October 1918, when those at RQMS level adopted the badge to distinguish them from other WO Class IIs,

and finally from 1938/9 for WO Class IIs during the period when the short-lived rank of WO III existed [crown only] until it quietly withered away during/ after the 2nd World War.

NB during 1915 to 1918 the badge structure had crown and wreath senior to the Royal Arms, very odd-looking to modern eyes. The 1918 sequence has seen little change, in essence, to this day, although several levels have been added at the top.

But RAF: not as far as I know.
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  #3  
Old 07-04-21, 03:20 PM
grumpy grumpy is offline
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Sam Kidd is not wearing eagles ..... is he actually meant to be RAF?
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Old 07-04-21, 03:38 PM
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Thanks Grumpy

(In October 1918, wouldn't that be CQMS (IE Warrant Officer 2nd Class Quartermaster) as opposed to RQMS (Warrant Officer 1st Class Quartermaster)?

Sam K is in the uniform of a Warrant Officer. The Warrant Officer (2nd Class) wore Airman pattern serge uniform and cap badge to 1939, but the Warrant Officer (1st Class) wore officer pattern barathea uniform (without shoulder eagles) and the Warrant officer cap badge.
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Old 07-04-21, 06:04 PM
grumpy grumpy is offline
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[QUOTE=Padre;545234]Thanks Grumpy

(In October 1918, wouldn't that be CQMS (IE Warrant Officer 2nd Class Quartermaster) as opposed to RQMS (Warrant Officer 1st Class Quartermaster)?

Keeping matters simple, for infantry:
Definitely RQMS crown and wreath.
The history is thus: until the 1913/14 change from 8 companies to 4 companies, the senior other rank in the rifle company was a colour sergeant, 3 chevrons and crown. At unit HQ those with rank above him were the QMS 4 chevrons and star, and possibly the Orderly Room Clerk, 4 chevrons only. Their "rank" was QMS. Above them were warrant officers, SM with crown, bandmaster with special band badge, and schoolmaster [not on active service].

With 4 companies, the 4 senior colour sergeants were given an extra 6d, kept the same badge for a few months, and became CSM. The 4 juniors had no change and became CQMS.

In Jan 1915 a whole raft of soldiers became the new WO Class II, including the QMS level, and the colour sergeants appointed CSMs. The badges were promulgated in May 1915, but the [R]QMS was lumped in with the CSMs to wear the crown only. In October 1918 the RQMS added the wreath.

Thus, between losing the four chevrons and star 1915, and gaining the wreath 1918, there was no distinction for the RQMS, except he probably was a bit older and better fed.

In 1915 Class II comprised:
Master Gunner 3rd Class
Army Schoolmaster if not a warrant officer
Garrison Quartermaster Sergeant
Quartermaster Corporal-Major
Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant (RQMS)
Squadron Corporal-Major
Squadron Sergeant-Major (SSM)
Battery Sergeant-Major
Troop Sergeant-Major
Company Sergeant-Major (CSM)
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  #6  
Old 08-04-21, 10:17 AM
RAY WALKLING RAY WALKLING is offline
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Default REACH FOR THE SKY

After a quick look at film on YouTube. First and second appearances of Sam Kydd, suggest to me that he is incorrected badged as a WO2 (should have been wearing shoulder eagles and gilt crown on sleeve) without surrounding wreath. Third appearance (War had broken out), he is badged, as far as I can make out as a WO1 (in theory, in view of the current events of the time this would have been par for the course)
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