Conductors and Schoolmasters

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Conductors and Schoolmasters

Postby grumpy » 04 Jan 2018 21:42

The First Warrant Officers were not Conductors

Recent research on the Great War Forum has revealed that the oft-heard claim by Conductors that they were and are primus inter pares cannot be upheld. It is true that warrants were granted to some Conductors in 1879, some two years before a more general upgrading of status for other Staff-sergeants 1st class such as Sergeant-Majors.
It is also true that the Royal Navy had warranted officers in Nelson’s time and continuously thereafter, such as Sailing Master, Gunner, Carpenter, Boatswain.
There is now available at ... -officers/

firm evidence that some Army Schoolmasters held warrant rank as early as 1854. They lost this status temporarily in 1863, and regained it in 1881, but they were not placed in the highest seniority sub-section of warrant officers, which included Conductors and Master Gunners 1st class. The Queen’s or King’s Regulations were at pains from time to time to point out that the members of all four groups were placed alphabetically, thus denying Conductors any primacy except alphabetical. Although the list contents have varied over the years, this top group always included titles such as:
Master Gunners 1st Class
Staff sergeant-major 1st class.

When in 1899 a rank of Schoolmaster 1st Class Warrant Officer was introduced, it was added to this elite list, an indication of how far the army had progressed in attempting to improve and educate its soldiers. Schoolmaster Warrant Officers remained and were on an inferior list of course.

Among the Warrant Officers the Schoolmaster’s pay was usually at the top end of the scale which, together with his sometimes grand officer-style uniform, emphasised his status. This uniform and his rank badges varied greatly over the years.

Seniority within groups was ordered to be by date of promotion or appointment, although clearly in the exercise of their normal duties there would be no doubt who would command: nobody would dispute artillery with a Master-Gunner, or argue the toss with a Master-at-Arms RN at sea, or an RAF Station Warrant Officer on his station.

As with many other things, the Great War changed everything, and by 1923 Schoolmasters as such are missing from the precedence table of Warrant Officers, except as Warrant Officer Instructors, Class II [Education].

As a footnote, there was a brief flurry of order/ counter order in 1881 which did indeed place Conductors above all others [perhaps inspired by the Conductors themselves]!. This was very quickly rescinded, so that although they retained certain unique privileges, they were placed within a peer group which the schoolmasters eventually had climbed back up to after a lapse of many years.
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Re: Conductors and Schoolmasters

Postby grumpy » 11 Jan 2018 16:15

I am bumping this up just the once ......... the subject spans our period nicely and there is a lot of new information available to shine a new light on a somewhat controversial subject.
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Re: Conductors and Schoolmasters

Postby Frogsmile » 12 Jan 2018 09:55

Significant new information there, Grumpy. Many thanks to Maureen, yourself and other contributors to the research.
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