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Lance corporal is a military rank, used by many armed forces worldwide, and also by some police forces and other uniformed organizations. It is below the rank of corporal, and is typically the lowest non-commissioned officer, usually equivalent to the NATO Rank Grade OR-3.


The presumed origin of the rank of lance corporal derives from an amalgamation of corporal with the now-archaic lancepesade, formerly a non-commissioned officer of the lowest rank. This in turn derives from the Italian lancia spezzata, which literally means "broken lance" or "broken spear", which was used to denote a seasoned soldier or mercenary, who was not a part of a "lance". "Lance" or "lances fournies" was a term used in Medieval Europe to denote a unit of soldiers (usually 5 to 10 men strong).

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 lance corporal is usually the second in command of a section, and is in control of the gun group in an infantry section. The same rank within artillery units is known as lance-bombardier (lance bombardier in New Zealand[1]). There is no equivalent rank within the Royal Australian Air Force or Royal Australian Navy. The badge of rank is a 1-bar chevron worn on both sleeves or on an epaulette.

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

A common nickname for a lance corporal in Australia is a "lance jack".


The Canadian Forces abolished the rank of lance corporal on their creation as a unified force in 1968. The rank of trained private equates to OR-3 and wears the single chevron, but has no command authority. In terms of actual authority, the current appointment of Master Corporal equates most directly to the pre-unification appointment of lance corporal as in both cases, this rank was granted to soldier second-in-command of an infantry section, for example. The current rank of Sergeant equates most directly to the pre-unification appointment of corporal.


The equivalent of a lance corporal in the Finnish Defence Forces is a korpraali (literally, corporal). Korpraali is not considered an NCO rank.

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[]

Until the end of the 19th century, in the Portuguese Army, the equivalent of a lance corporal rank was that of anspeçada. The rank of anspeçada was replaced, in 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 Polices and in the Military Firefighters Corps. The rank of anspeçada was discontinued in Brazil in the first half of the 20th century.


The rank of lance-corporal (LCP) in the Singapore Armed Forces ranks between private first class and corporal.[2]

Like the rank of corporal, it is not considered a specialist rank, and the lance-corporal has absolutely no command authority by virtue of his rank. However, lance-corporals who are appointed second-in-command of a section (military unit) do have the authority to command the rest of the section. National Servicemen in such appointments are usually promoted to this rank in the middle of their two-year enlistment.

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


Sweden has vicekorpral (previously vicekonstapel, "vice constable", in the artillery and anti-aircraft artillery) as a rank intermediate between private and korpral. It was primarily a school degree discontinued in 1972 but reinstated in 2008 or 2009.

United Kingdom[]

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 (and with a NATO grade of OR3). The badge of rank is a one-bar 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-bar chevrons and in the Household Cavalry a two-bar chevron surmounted by the crown is worn). The Royal Artillery uses the term lance-bombardier instead. The designation "chosen man", used during the Napoleonic Wars, was a precursor to the rank. A common nickname for a lance corporal is "lance jack". Lance corporals are commonly addressed as "corporal".


British Army insignia

Junior corporal was a rank in the Royal Air Force Section of the Combined Cadet Force (CCF). The insignia was a single chevron and the rank is the cadet equivalent of a Lance Corporal in the RAF Regiment. The rank was introduced in the CCF, long before the equivalent RAF Regiment rank (2010). This was in order to create a level of rank parity between cadet NCOs in the Army and RAF Sections. From 2012 it was replaced by the rank of Cadet Lance Corporal with the same insignia.

Corporal, East Surrey Regiment 1940

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

Until 1961, lance corporal was only an appointment rather than a rank, given to privates who were acting NCOs, and could be taken away by the soldier's commanding officer (whereas a full corporal could only be demoted by court martial). 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 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 Royal Military Police all other ranks are promoted to lance corporal on the completion of their training.

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.[3][4] RAF Regiment lance corporals have powers of charge over Aircraftmen, Leading Aircraftmen and senior aircraftmen, but not junior technicians and senior aircraftmen technicians, who, despite being OR2s, require a corporal or above to charge if required.[5] The RAF sections of Combined Cadet Forces, seen in some British schools, use the rank of cadet lance corporal (cadet junior corporal pre-2012) for many years in order that NCOs can be ranked on parity with the cadet lance corporals in the army sections.

United States[]

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Lance Corporal's arm badge (USMC)

Marine Corps[]

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

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. 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 rank of lance corporal serving in the Corps into the 1930s, but this unofficial rank became redundant when the rank of private first class was established in 1917. The lance corporal fell out of usage prior to World War II, before it was permanently established in the sweeping rank restructuring of 1958.[6]


The United States Army had the rank of lance corporal from 1965 to 1968 signified by one chevron with a rocker underneath. The insignia later became private first class in 1968 with the former one chevron of a PFC, becoming private E-2.

See also[]


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