Lance corporal

Lance corporal

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", but which was used to denote a seasoned soldier, as the broken spear was a metaphor for combat experience, where such an occurrence was very likely.

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 (2IC), 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 appointment 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 appointment was granted to soldier second-in-command of an infantry section, for example. Although with the new Conservative majority currently in government, many changes have been happening in the Canadian Military, one of which is the move towards the traditional Canadian Army, keeping in line with other Commonwealth countries. This may result in the eventual bringing back of the rank of Lance-Corporal.


The equivalent of a Lance Corporal in the French Army is a Caporal or Brigadier.


The equivalent of a Lance Corporal in the Finnish Defence Forces is a Korpraali.

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) beeing 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 (PFC) and Corporal (CPL).[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).

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".

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 be used by other branches of the Royal Air Force.[3][4] The RAF sections of Combined Cadet Forces, seen in some British schools, have used the rank of Cadet Junior Corporal (also bearing one chevron) for many years in order that NCOs can be ranked on parity with the Cadet Lance Corporals in the Army Sections. 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]

United States

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. In the Marine Corps, to call a lance corporal "Corporal" is considered disrespectful to both ranks.

The USMC is the only component of the U.S. Armed Forces to currently have lance corporals. A lance corporal relies upon a composite score to be promoted to corporal.

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.[citation needed]


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

  • Comparative military ranks
  • Lance Sergeant


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  • Lance corporal — Corporal Cor po*ral (k[^o]r p[ o]*ral), n. [Corrupted fr. F. caporal, It. caporale, fr. capo head, chief, L. caput. See {Chief}, and cf. {Caporal}.] (Mil.) A noncommissioned officer, next below a sergeant. In the United States army he is the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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