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Paul L Murphy

Badges For Some Scary People .... The RSM!

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The rank RSM for the regular infantry actually only appeared on the advent of the Great War, which is when the 'Royal Arms' badge was adopted prior to that the rank was simply 'Sergeant Major', the badge of rank being a large crown worn on the lower right cuff in both bullion with full dress or khaki worsted with SD. On the introduction of the rank 'RSM', in compliance with the introduction of the four company system, the eight Colour Sergeants within the infantry were also re-ranked - the four senior 'Colours' then became 'Company Sgt Majors', they adopted the crown of the former Sgt Major, but slightly smaller as their badge of rank. The four junior 'Colours' then became 'Company Quartermaster Sgt's'. Their badge of rank was the crown worn above the three sgt's stripes.

The Colour Sgt's had their own bullion badge of rank for full dress, which was the crossed union flags above which was a crown above three chevrons, but there was no equivalent for SD and a compromise was adopted where a large crown was worn above the three chevrons. As stated above this was to become the badge of the CQMS the restructuring of the infantry ranks.

The RQMS retained his rank and badge which was four inverted chevrons on the lower cuff above which was a small star.

The system gets even more complicated when looking at the rank and badges of those serving with the Volunteers/Territorials

Graham, a few points of detail:

RSM, as you will recall, was not a rank, but an appointment. It became necessary to change the title of the appointment of the senior soldier in the battalion from 'Sergeant Major' as soon as Company Sergeant Majors were appointed. This was first described in AO323/1913 October ...... "these duties [CSM and CQMS] will be carried out by the existing Colour Sergeants".

No longer could the senior soldier be the SM, with four other SMs about [who were at that time two ranks junior to him, with all [R]QMSs in between].

The new CSMs retained their SD rank badge of three chevrons and crown [see CSM Barter VC, always badged thus] [i have no evidence that Colour Sergeants changed the size of the crown when appointed CSM, and can see no good reason for it in time of war] until order was restored and a second grade of Warrant Officer was created [AOs 70, 168 and 174 of 1915]. Until then, a RSM wore the crown, a RQMS continued with four chevrons and star, a QMS not appointed as RQMS just the chevrons, and a CQMS as CSgt badges.

With the creation of WO II, CSgts appointed CSM took the crown, and WO I appointed RSM took the Royal Arms. The poor old QMSs were lumped in with the CSMs [they had hitherto been their seniors] and were to wear the crown also.

Finally, AO 309 of 1918 gave the RQMS WO II back his dignity of a new usage of the crown within a wreath, thus showing the senior appointment.

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Hi David - the crown size is based purely on observations from my collection of NF photo's and I should have been a bit more precise i.e. the worsted crown worn pre-1915 by Clr Sgts on SD/KD is large in comparison to the later brass ones often seen above the chevrons of a CQMS. It actually appears to be of the same dimensions as the crown worn by former Sergeant Majors, as worn on their lower arm, and this is reflected in the size of crown worn by CSM's etc today.

Oddly enought the NF seem to abandon the worsted crown altogether, as part of rank in favour of metal post 1915, but I would have to check through all of my photo's.

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Yes, I have absolutely no doubt that regimental practice varied. Even today, the Household Cavalry use a worsted crown versus a metal crown to distinguish [this from memory] LCpl of Horse from Cpl of Horse in SD

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At last if found a thread on the web for people with the same interest. My main collection is Warrant Officer badges of Southern Africa with a sub collection of SA Navy mustering and qualification badges. A large part of my collection can be viewed at: http://community.web...ser/seadog73021. I will over the next couple of posts list some of the more interesting badges I have.

Neville

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First up SA Defence Force most senior Sgt Maj. Please note all the badges changed in 2002. Will add the new ones later.

Neville

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This is the Sgt Maj: SA Air Force badge, my father was the 2nd SM:AF from 1982 to 1988, thus the interest in WO badges.

Neville

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Next up is the Master at Arms: SA Navy, up until 1985 he wore 2 badges (white for summer and black for winter) but after 1985 they standerdised and only had the one (black background).

Neville

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Next up is the Master at Arms: SA Navy, up until 1985 he wore 2 badges (white for summer and black for winter) but after 1985 they standerdised and only had the one (black background).

Neville

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The SM:Medical Health Service, this badges also changed in 1985, the first was with a maroon bachgroun and the next with black background.

Neville

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The SM:Medical Health Service, this badges also changed in 1985, the first was with a maroon bachgroun and the next with black background.

Neville

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The next 3 badges were not arms of service but divisions reporting directly to the Chief of the Defence Force and as such also had there own "Senior" Sgt Maj. All these were appointments so the rank stayed WO1, only in 2008 were the 5 levels of WO made ranks and I will show those rank badges later. This is the SM: Inspector General.

Neville

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The last one for this session is the SM:Special Forces, this I dont have in my collection as they are very scarce. Only one person wore this badge and for only 3 years, so only about 5 pairs were made. I have a copy in my collection and if anyone has a spare available please let me know.

Neville

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The cloth one (top) was a WW2 badge for the RSM of the Durban Light Infantry.

The one below - I'm not sure - but, with the enamel I would think for mess dress - and Army.

Hi,

The bottom is SA Prison Service, also now discontinued.

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SA Brigade Sergeant-Major or Group Sgt Maj (for the Commando Groups) c. 1980s to 2000s.

While Citizen Force Regiments/Battallions/Batteries were "Brigaded" together, the Commando Forces (ie. territorial reserve) units were formed into "Groups" consisting of a few "Commandoes" each.

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In my previous post I forgot to mention the obvious - the BSM/GSM had a green backing. RSMs in the Army / MWAA in the Navy had a red backing.

Also worth noting is that prior to 1958, South African WOIs wore the Coat-of-Arms with or without wreath depending on appointment. WOIIs wore the crown with or without wreath depending on appointment (Company/Battery/Squadron SMs wore the crown only, pretty much everybody else wore the wreath around the crown). In 1958 the crown was dropped altogether and the wrethed arms (formerly worn by Garrison Sgt Maj, Conductors etc) became the badge for all WOIs. The arms without wreath, previously worn by RSMs and most other WOIs, became the badge for all WOIIs in 1958.

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New Zealand Army WOII & WOI. In NZ all WOII wear the wreathed crown. The NZ coat of arms replaced the Royal Arms for Army WOI in the 1970s. The Air Force and Navy have only one class of Warrant Officer, each wearing the Royal Arms, presumably because the Air Force and Navy have the "Royal" prefix.

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