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The United States Army's enlisted rank insignia that was used during World War I differs from the current system. The color scheme used for the insignia's chevron was olive drab for field use uniforms or one of several colors depending on the corps on dress uniforms. The chevron system used by enlisted men during World War I came into being on July 17, 1902,[1] and was changed to a different system in 1919. Specification 760, which was dated May 31, 1905, contained 45 different enlisted insignia that varied designs and titles by different corps of the Army. General Order Number 169, which was enacted on August 14, 1907, created an even larger variety of enlisted rank insignia. Pay grades similar to the current system were not yet in use by the U.S. Army, and instead, the pay system reflected the job assignment of the soldier rather than their rank. By the end of World War I, the system contained 128 different insignia designs.[2]

Examples of pre war dress insignia

No insignia
Regimental sergeant major Infantry Hospital Sergeant Medical Department Battalion Sergeant Major Army Service School Detachment Sergeant First Class Corps of Engineers Ordnance Sergeant First Sergeant Infantry Sergeant Quartermaster Corps Sergeant Signal Corps Sergeant Cavalry CorporalArillery Private

Rank insignia used during the war

The ranks used by the army during the war (1917-1918), by branch, were:

Cavalry

Regimental Sergeant Major Band Leader Until December 1917 Band Leader December 1917 to May 1918 Band Leader After May 1918 Supply Sergeant, regimental Squadron Sergeant Major
First Sergeant First Sergeant (Drum Major) Assistant Band Leader until December 1917 Assistant Band Leader December 1917 to May 1918 Assistant Band Leader After May 1918 Sergeant Bugler Until December 1917
Sergeant Bugler December 1917 to May 1918 Sergeant Bugler After May 1918 Color Sergeant Sergeant Supply Sergeant Until May 1918 Supply Sergeant after May 1918
Mess Sergeant Until May 1918 Mess Sergeant After May 1918 Stable Sergeant until May 1918 Stable Sergeant After May 1918 Band Sergeant Until December 1917 Band Sergeant After December 1917
Corporal Corporal Bugler After July 1918 Band Corporal Until December 1917 Band Corporal After December 1917 Cook Horseshoer
No Insignia No Insignia No Insignia
Saddler Wagoner Mechanic Musician First Class Until May 1918 Musician Second Class Until May 1918 Musician Third Class Until May 1918
Musician First Class After May 1918[3] Musician Second Class After May 1918[4] Musician Third Class After May 1918[5] Bugler First Class After July 1918 Bugler After December 1917 Private First Class
No Insignia
Private

Infantry

Regimental Sergeant Major Band Leader Until December 1917 Band Leader December 1917 to May 1918 Band Leader After May 1918 Supply Sergeant, regimental Battalion Sergeant Major
First Sergeant First Sergeant (Drum Major) Assistant Band Leader until December 1917 Assistant Band Leader December 1917 to May 1918 Assistant Band Leader After May 1918 Sergeant Bugler Until December 1917
Sergeant Bugler December 1917 to May 1918 Sergeant Bugler After May 1918 Color Sergeant Sergeant Supply Sergeant Until May 1918 Supply Sergeant after May 1918
Mess Sergeant Until May 1918 Mess Sergeant After May 1918 Stable Sergeant until May 1918 Stable Sergeant After May 1918 Band Sergeant Until December 1917 Band Sergeant After December 1917
Corporal Corporal Bugler After July 1918 Band Corporal Until December 1917 Band Corporal After December 1917 Cook Saddler
No Insignia No Insignia No Insignia
Wagoner Musician First Class Until May 1918 Musician Second Class Until May 1918 Musician Third Class Until May 1918 Musician First Class After May 1918[6] Musician Second Class After May 1918[7]
No Insignia
Musician Third Class After May 1918[8] Bugler First Class After July 1918 Bugler After December 1917 Private First Class Private

Coast Artillery Corps

Sergeant Major Senior Grade Master Electrician Band Leader Until December 1917 Band Leader December 1917 to May 1918 Band Leader After May 1918 Engineer
Supply Sergeant, Regimental Sergeant Major JuniorGrade First Sergeant Electrician Sergeant First Class Until May 1918 Electrician Sergeant First Class After May 1918 Assistant Engineer
Master Gunner Assistant Band Leader until December 1917 Assistant Band Leader December 1917 to May 1918 Assistant Band Leader After May 1918 Sergeant Bugler Until December 1917 Sergeant Bugler December 1917 to May 1918
No Insignia No Insignia
Sergeant Bugler After May 1918 Oiler, Mine Planter Service After July 1918 Steward, Mine Planter Service After July 1918 Electrician Sergeant Second Class Until May 1918 Electrician Sergeant Second Class After May 1918 Radio Sergeant Until May 1918
Radio Sergeant After May 1918 Sergeant Supply Sergeant Until May 1918 Supply Sergeant after May 1918 Mess Sergeant Until May 1918 Mess Sergeant After May 1918
Band Sergeant Until December 1917 Band Sergeant After December 1917 Fireman Until December 1917 Fireman After December 1917 Corporal Corporal Bugler After July 1918
No Insignia No Insignia
Band Corporal Until December 1917 Band Corporal After December 1917 Cook Mechanic Assistant Steward Mine Planter Service After July 1918 Musician First Class Until May 1918
No Insignia No Insignia
Musician Second Class Until May 1918 Musician Third Class Until May 1918 Musician First Class After May 1918[10] Musician Second Class After May 1918[11] Musician Third Class After May 1918[12] Bugler First Class After July 1918
No Insignia No Insignia
Bugler After December 1917 Deckhand Mine Planter Service After July 1918 Private First Class Private

Field Artillery

Regimental Sergeant Major Band Leader Until December 1917 Band Leader December 1917 to May 1918 Band Leader After May 1918 Supply Sergeant, regimental Battalion Sergeant Major
First Sergeant First Sergeant (Drum Major) Assistant Band Leader until December 1917 Assistant Band Leader December 1917 to May 1918 Assistant Band Leader After May 1918 Sergeant Bugler Until December 1917
Sergeant Bugler December 1917 to May 1918 Sergeant Bugler After May 1918 Color Sergeant Sergeant Supply Sergeant Until May 1918 Supply Sergeant after May 1918
Mess Sergeant Until May 1918 Mess Sergeant After May 1918 Band Sergeant Until December 1917 Band Sergeant After December 1917 Corporal Corporal Bugler After July 1918
Band Corporal Until December 1917 Band Corporal After December 1917 Cook Horseshoer Saddler Wagoner
No Insignia No Insignia No Insignia
Chief Mechanic Until May 1918 Chief Mechanic After May 1918 Mechanic Musician First Class Until May 1918 Musician Second Class Until May 1918 Musician Third Class Until May 1918
Musician First Class After May 1918[13] Musician Second Class After May 1918[14] Musician Third Class After May 1918[15] Bugler First Class After July 1918 Bugler After December 1917 Private First Class
No Insignia
Private

Signal Corps

Aviator Until creation of the Air Service in July 1918 Master Signal Electrician Until May 1918 Master Signal Electrician After May 1918 Sergeant First Class Until May 1918 Sergeant First Class After May 1918 Chauffeur First Class (Rank Created July 24, 1917)[16]
Sergeant Until May 1918 Sergeant After May 1918 Chauffeur (Rank Created July 24, 1917)[17] Corporal Until May 1918 Corporal After May 1918 Cook
No Insignia
Horseshoer Private First Class Private

Corps of Engineers

Regimental Sergeant Major Master Engineer Senior Grade Band Leader Until December 1917 Band Leader From December 1916 to May 1918 Band Leader After May 1918 Master Engineer Junior Grade
Supply Sergeant, regimental Battalion Sergeant Major Supply Sergeant, Battalion First Sergeant Sergeant First Class Until May 1918 Sergeant First Class After May 1918
Assistant Band Leader Until December 1917 Assistant Band Leader From December 1916 to May 1918 Assistant Band Leader After May 1918 Sergeant Bugler Until December 1917 Sergeant Bugler From December 1916 to May 1918 Sergeant Bugler After May 1918
Color Sergeant Sergeant Supply Sergeant Until May 1918 Supply Sergeant After May 1918 Mess Sergeant Until May 1918 Mess Sergeant After May 1918
Stable Sergeant Until May 1918 Stable Sergeant After May 1918 Band Sergeant Until December 1917 Band Sergeant After December 1917 Corporal Corporal Bugler After July 1918
Band Corporal Until December 1917 Band Corporal After December 1917 Cook Horseshoer Saddler Wagoner
No Insignia No Insignia No Insignia
Musician First Class Until May 1918 Musician Second Class Until May 1918 Musician Third Class Until May 1918 Musician First Class After May 1918[18] Musician Second Class After May 1918[19] Musician Third Class After May 1918[20]
No Insignia
Bugler First Class After July 1918 Bugler Private First Class Private

Medical Department

Master Hospital Sergeant Hospital Sergeant Until May 1918 Hospital Sergeant After May 1918 Sergeant First Class Until May 1918 Sergeant First Class After May 1918 Sergeant Until May 1918
Sergeant After May 1918 Corporal Until May 1918 Corporal After May 1918 Cook Farrier Horseshoer
No Insignia
Saddler Mechanic Private First Class Private

Ordnance Department

Ordnance Sergeant Until October 1917 Ordnance Sergeant From October 1917 to May 1918 Ordnance Sergeant After May 1918 Sergeant First Class August 1917 to May 1918 Sergeant First Class After May 1918 Sergeant Until May 1918 Sergeant After May 1918 Corporal Until May 1918
No Insignia
Corporal After May 1918 Private First Class Private Second Class


Quartermaster Corps

Quartermaster Sergeant, Senior Grade Quartermaster Sergeant, Quartermaster Corps Until May 1918 Quartermaster Sergeant, Quartermaster Corps After May 1918 Sergeant First Class Until May 1918 Sergeant First Class Until After 1918 Sergeant Until May 1918
No Insignia
Sergeant After May 1918 Corporal Until May 1918 Corporal After May 1918 Cook Private First Class Private

Air Service (Created May 24, 1918)

Aviator Master Signal Electrician Sergeant First Class Chauffeur First Class Sergeant Chauffeur
No Insignia
Corporal Cook Horseshoer Assistant Chauffeur Private First Class Private

Gas Service Created on July 5, 1917 then changed to Chemical Warfare Service on June 28, 1918

The organization of the Gas/Chemical Warfare service is based on a table in a report by the director of the service, Major General William Sibert to the Adjutant General of the Army,[21] Dated September 26, 1918. One column of the table does show the service’s organization as of October 30, 1918, despite the date of the report.

The complex enlisted organization starting in July 1918 is confirmed by War Department General Order 62, dated June 28, 1918, that states “The rank, pay, and allowances of the enlisted men of the Chemical Warfare Service, National Army, shall be the same as now authorized for the corresponding grades in the Corps of Engineers.”

Insignia for the service was prescribed by Change No. 3 to Special Regulation 42 on February 19, 1918. Prior to that engineer insignia was probably used.


Master Engineer Senior Grade After July 1918 Master Engineer Junior Grade After July 1918 Regimental Sergeant Major After July 1918 Regimental Supply Sergeant After July 1918 Battalion Sergeant Major After July 1918 Battalion Supply Sergeant After July 1918
First Sergeant After April of 1918 Sergeant First Class Until May 1918 Sergeant First Class Until After May 1918 Mess Sergeant After July 1918 Supply Sergeant after July 1918 Stable Sergeant After October 1918
Sergeant Until May 1918 Sergeant After May 1918 Corporal Until May 1918 Corporal After May 1918 Bugler After July 1918 Cook After July 1918
No Insignia
Mechanic After July 1918 Wagoner After July 1918 Horseshoer After October 1918 Saddler After October 1918 Private First Class Private

Tank Corps (Created in late 1917)

Master Engineer Senior Grade February to May 1918 Master Engineer Senior Grade After May 1918 Master Engineer Senior Grade After May 1918 Alternate Version Sergeant First Class Sergeant Corporal
No Insignia
Private First Class February to May 1918 Private First ClassAfter May 1918 Private

Motor Transport Corps (Created August 15, 1918)

Master Engineer Senior Grade After September 1918 First Sergeant[23] Sergeant First Class Sergeant Corporal Cook[24]
No Insignia
Private First Class After September 1918 Private

Judge Advocate General’s Department (Enlisted Men Added July 12, 1918)

Regimental Sergeant Major Battalion Sergeant Major Sergeant Corporal

Corps of Intelligence Police created August 13, 1917

As far as can be determined, the only enlisted men in the Corps of Intelligence Police were sergeants.

Sergeant Until May 1918 Sergeant After May 1918

Corps of Interpreters Created July 14, 1917

As far as can be determined the only enlisted men in the Corps of Interpreters were sergeants

Sergeant Until May 1918 Sergeant After May 1918

U.S.Military Academy Detachment

Band Sergeant and Assistant Leader Until May 1918 Band Sergeant and Assistant Leader After May 1918 First Sergeant Field music Sergeant Until May 1918 Field music Sergeant After May 1918 Sergeant
No Insignia No Insignia No Insignia
Corporal Cook Musician First Class Until May 1918 Musician Second Class Until May 1918 Musician Third Class Until May 1918 Musician First Class After May 1918
No Insignia No Insignia
Musician Second Class After May 1918[19] Musician Third Class After May 1918[20] Private First Class After June 27, 1918[27] Private Second Class After June 27, 1918[28] Private

Service School Detachments

Service school detachments wore the same insignia as other branches with privates first class using the same insignia as privates first class at West Point.

Other rank insignia

In 1918 the army added insignia for privates first class serving at army of corps headquarters and with the general recruiting service.

Private First Class General Headquarters Private First Class General Recruiting Service

Change number 4 to Special Regulation 42 dated May 7, 1918, prescribes insignia for the rank of motor sergeant. It, along with the insignia for chauffeurs is listed under general application for all branches. An article in the Army and Navy Register from July 4, 1918[29] states that the rank of motor sergeant had been created under authority granted to the president to reorganize the army as needed during the war. The article goes on the state that there was a law before congress that would create the rank of motor sergeant in all branches and expand the chauffeur ranks also to all branches. This law did not pass.

Various general orders from the American Expeditionary Force do show chauffeurs in various organizations, but as a rank, only in the Signal Corps. However the title of motor sergeant is never mentioned. Nor is it used in army order from the War Department itself. Assistant chauffeurs are listed on tables of organization as privates with duty as chauffeurs in division trains and various organizations in the Coast Artillery Corps.

Motor Sergeant Assistant Chauffeur

Order of Precedence

Article III, paragraph 9 of the Regulations for Army of the United States 1913, Corrected to April 15, 1917, gives the order of precedence for officers and noncommissioned officers as:

  • Sergeant Major, Senior Grade, Coast Artillery Corps
  • Master Hospital Sergeant, Medical Department
  • Master Engineer Senior Grade, Corps of Engineers
  • Master Electrician, Coast Artillery Corps
  • Master Signal Electrician
  • Band Leader
  • Master Engineer Junior Grade, Corps of Engineers
  • Engineer, Coast Artillery Corps
  • Quartermaster Sergeant, Quartermaster Corps
  • Supply Sergeant Regimental
  • Sergeant Major Junior Grade, Coast Artillery Corps
  • Supply Sergeant, Battalion, Corps of Engineers
  • Sergeant First Class, Quartermaster Corps
  • Sergeant First Class, Corps of Engineers
  • Sergeant First Class, Signal Corps
  • Electrician Sergeant First Class, Coast Artillery Corps
  • Electrician Sergeant, Artillery Detachment, United States Military Academy
  • Assistant Engineer, Coast Artillery Corps
  • Master Gunner, Coast Artillery Corps
  • Master Gunner, Artillery Detachment, United States Military Academy
  • Band Sergeant and Assistant Leader, United States Military Academy Band
  • Assistant Band Leader
  • Sergeant Bugler
  • Electrician Sergeant Second Class, Coast Artillery Corps
  • Electrician Sergeant Second Class, Artillery Detachment, United States Military Academy
  • Radio Sergeant
  • Supply Sergeant Company
  • Mess Sergeant
  • Stable Sergeant
  • Fireman, Coast Artillery Corps

See also

References

  1. ^ General Order 81, July 17, 1902
  2. ^ "U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry-History of Enlisted Ranks". Archived from the original on 2010-06-29. Retrieved 2017-04-30.
  3. ^ Special Regulations 42, Change 4, May 7, 1918
  4. ^ Special Regulations 42, Change 4, May 7, 1918
  5. ^ Special Regulations 42, Change 4, May 7, 1918
  6. ^ Special Regulations 42, Change 4, May 7, 1918
  7. ^ Special Regulations 42, Change 4, May 7, 1918
  8. ^ Special Regulations 42, Change 4, May 7, 1918
  9. ^ Berhow, Mark. Insignia of the Coast Artillery Corps (PDF). Coast Defense Study Group Reprint. pp. 11–12. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  10. ^ Special Regulations 42, Change 4, May 7, 1918
  11. ^ Special Regulations 42, Change 4, May 7, 1918
  12. ^ Special Regulations 42, Change 4, May 7, 1918
  13. ^ Special Regulations 42, Change 4, May 7, 1918
  14. ^ Special Regulations 42, Change 4, May 7, 1918
  15. ^ Special Regulations 42, Change 4, May 7, 1918
  16. ^ 40Stat244
  17. ^ 40Stat244
  18. ^ Special Regulations 42, Change 4, May 7, 1918
  19. ^ a b Special Regulations 42, Change 4, May 7, 1918
  20. ^ a b Special Regulations 42, Change 4, May 7, 1918
  21. ^ Service, Chemical Warfare (1918). "Annual Report of the Chief".
  22. ^ "Table 256 Tank Brigade, Tank Corps" (PDF). www.militaryresearch.org. 23 September 1918. Retrieved 12 October 2023.
  23. ^ Corps, Motor Transport (1919). "Report of the Chief of the Motor Transport Corps to the Secretary of War".
  24. ^ Corps, Motor Transport (1919). "Report of the Chief of the Motor Transport Corps to the Secretary of War".
  25. ^ General Order 66, July 12, 1918
  26. ^ General Order 93, July 14, 1917
  27. ^ 40 Stat621
  28. ^ 40 Stat621
  29. ^ Army-Navy-Air Force register and defense times, v.64 1918, July 4, 1918, p. 2