A Major, abbreviated to Maj., is a military rank which is used by both the British Army and Royal Marines. The rank is superior to Captain, and subordinate to Lieutenant Colonel. The insignia for a Major is a crown. The equivalent rank in the Royal Navy is Lieutenant Commander, and Squadron Leader in the Royal Air Force. During the First World War, some officers took to wearing similar jackets to the men, with the rank badges on the shoulder, as the cuff badges made them conspicuous to snipers. This practice was frowned on outside the trenches but was given official sanction in 1917 as an alternative, being made permanent in 1920 when the cuff badges were abolished.
From 1 April 1918 to 31 July 1919, the Royal Air Force maintained the rank of major. It was superseded by the rank of squadron leader on the following day. Majors were often commanding independent companies, squadrons and batteries, but those that were organically part of a regiment or battalion were still usually commanded by captains. After the Second World War, major became the usual rank held by officers commanding all companies, squadrons and batteries. In the 21st century British Army, officers normally attain the rank after around eight to ten years of commissioned service. A common job for a major is the command of a sub-unit of 120 or fewer junior officers and soldiers.
References / notes
- Major (United Kingdom). Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia. Accessed 22 April, 2017.
Glossary of terms and customs
This page forms part of our glossary of words and phrases of the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom of Great Britain during the Great War, which also includes: technicalities, trench slang, expressions in everyday use, nicknames, sobriquets, the titles and origins of British and Commonwealth Regiments, and warfare in general. Please feel free to help expand and improve this content.
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