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A colour sergeant of the Coldstream Guards (right) speaking to a lance sergeant (left).

A lance sergeant (LSgt or L/Sgt) in the armies of the Commonwealth was a corporal acting in the rank of sergeant. The appointment is retained now only in the Foot Guards and Honourable Artillery Company. In these regiments, all corporals are automatically appointed lance sergeant on their promotion, so lance sergeants perform the same duties as corporals in other regiments and are not acting sergeants in anything but name.

The appointment originated in the British Army and Royal Marines, in which it could be removed by the soldier's commanding officer, unlike a full sergeant, who could only be demoted by court martial. Lance sergeants first appeared in the 19th century.[1] The appointment was abolished in 1946, except in the guards' regiments mentioned above. Some cadet units also retained the rank in addition to corporal into at least the 1980s.[citation needed] The Household Cavalry equivalent is lance-corporal of horse.

Lance sergeants wear three rank chevrons. In full dress, Foot Guards lance sergeants are distinguished from full sergeants by their white chevrons (full sergeants wearing gold); and in working dress, primarily by wearing an other ranks cap badge instead of a senior NCO variant.

Some sources claim that the use of the appointment of lance sergeant was introduced by Queen Victoria, who stated that her guards would not wear only one chevron when mounting guard outside the royal palaces. Guards lance-corporals therefore wore two chevrons. That left the problem of what the full corporal would wear, so the appointment of lance sergeant was introduced.[2] However, the Guards regiments still had corporals until after the First World War and the appointment of lance sergeant was used throughout the army (not just by the Guards) until 1946,[citation needed] so the veracity of the story is questionable.


  1. The earliest mentions of the appointment in the London Gazette and The Times are actually in connection with the Royal Marines in 1840. "No. 19904". 13 October 1840. ; "General Court-Martial at Woolwich", The Times, 2 June 1840.
  2. "The Irish Guards, Badges of Rank". Retrieved 2009-05-09. 

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