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Long Service and Good Conduct Stripes
Rob Dumelow


Joined: 10 Apr 2006
Posts: 24
Location: Staffordshire, UK
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Does anyone know the requirements for receiving a Long Service and Good conduct stripe at the time of the AZW? These are the upside down ("American style") chevrons worn on the lower right cuff of a soldier or NCO.

I presume a requirement would be not to have been up on a charge for a crime or military offence but how long did a soldier have to serve for before being awarded one?

The most I have ever seen on one man is 4, and I think the longest time a soldier could be in the ranks for at the time was 21 years (without permission from the war office for exceptional circumstances) so I am guessing one for every 5 years service. But this is just a guess.

I would be very grateful if someone could verify this or correct me.

Cheers,
Rob.
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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
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Don't take it as gospel, but my undertsading is 3 years. Somebody more expert than me will know for sure.

Regards

Mike
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Good Conduct Stripes
Sapper Mason


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 333
Location: ANGLESEY
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Very Happy ,
The award of GOOD CONDUCT STRIPES were awarded after TWO YEARS GOOD CONDUCT,or service, they were not so much LONG SERVICE AWARDS but an indicator a man had completed TWO years service without falling foul of strict rules , there was also an award of 1 d ( one pence a day ) extra pay for this stripe . The MAXIMUM of GC STRIPES that could be obtained was SIX , if memory serves me correct there was a Rorke's Drift defender who supported FIVE at the time . The only " six - packer " i know of was C / SGT [ Sgt - Major ] G W Mabin also of Rorke's drift who gained SIX but as his rank was eventually Sgt Major HE DID NOT WEAR THESE BUT was entitled to the 6 d ( six pence ) a day extra for these stripes .

Quite often an " old sweat " would take the pay and not the responsibility of rank , take the case of William Jones VC , he supported THREE GC stripes but was a private , having been a Cpl at one point but reduced to Pte , he then gained three such stripes but stayed a Pte till his discharge in 1880 .

A man could loose these stripes just as quickly as he was awarded them , usually due to excess drink . Stripes could be won again if the man behaved himself and i have records which show certain men winning and loosing stripes of this nature with great frequency .

The stripes could also be exchanged for rank but most men i am aware of took the extra pay instead . I have seen a picture of a man showing FIVE GC stripes but not the MAXIMUM 6 . Just when this practice was ceased i cannot say , possibly in WW1 ? , but of that i am not certain .

If wanted i will check my files and see of the Rorke's drift defenders in particular who had the most GC stripes apart from C / Sgt Mabin who had he stayed a private would have worn SIX. HE served 30 years service and never once was on report , certainly an exemplary soldier if there ever was one , " Sapper " . Wink
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Rob Dumelow


Joined: 10 Apr 2006
Posts: 24
Location: Staffordshire, UK
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"Sapper" and Mike, thanks for that. Just what I was looking for, I can see that I was miles out with my guess!

Interesting that there was the incentive of a small payrise for it as well, must have encouraged good behaviour. Once more I am pleasantly surprised by the depth of knowledge held by RDVC members!

Sapper: You mentioned swapping the stripes for an NCO position was there a set method for this or was it at the discretion of the CO? Were the stripes only worn by privates?

Cheers,
Rob.
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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
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Exchanged for rank instead of good conduct pay Sapper? First I've heard of that. How do you source that Question

Regards

Mike
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Rank exchange .
Sapper Mason


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 333
Location: ANGLESEY
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Very Happy
Dear Mike & Rob , firstly i have checked the records and found one Pte Alfred Whetton ( Rorke's DRIFT ) had 5 GC Stripes and Pte John Waters ( Rorke's Drift ) was awarded 4 GC Stripes in their service . With regard to the exchange of these stripes to rank i have always been under the banner that this was the case . I am at a loss to quote a source for this understanding at this time and if incorrect then apologies to you for stating this . It is a very valid point and i would ask those with greater knowledge than myself to confirm or deny the practice of exchanging GC stripes for rank . I am pretty certain i have read something on this subject but to lay my hands on it at this moment i cannot , i welcome replies on this and thank those in advance if able to tell me , thank you , " Sapper " . Wink
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Answer ???
Sapper Mason


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 333
Location: ANGLESEY
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Very Happy ,
Further to the ( as i believed ) practice of men exchanging GOOD CONDUCT stripes for rank i have had a response from the National Army Museum on this , they say , " as far as we know this was NOT the practice but can`t be certain " and the cessation of these stripes occured around the First World War , again there is no certainty on this matter . I have been invited to come to the NAM for further research on this subject and once in London again i fully intend to visit them and see if i can get a more defintive answer to this . Apologies if i were incorrect in conveying this matter regarding GOOD CONDUCT STRIPES , " Sapper " Embarassed
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Adrian Whiting


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 76
Location: Dorset, England
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Hopefully I can assist a little further. My reference for my contribution is the "Royal Warrant 1878, Parts 1 & 2, Pay and non-effective Pay". Section 1087 onwards sets out the details of Good Conduct Pay and Badges.

GC Pay and badges were available to all soldiers under the rank of Corporal in the Life Guards and Horse Guards, or under the rank of Serjeant in other branches. There are some variations which I can describe further if anyone would like me to.

Pay and badges were awarded after 2 years service, then after 6, 12, 18, 23 and 28 years. Each increment was a penny a day and one badge. Thus the maximum number of badges (stripes) was six, and the maximum additional pay was 6d a day.

For the first award at 2 years, the soldier had to have avoided having his name entered in the Regimental Defaulters Book for 2 years prior to the claim. Each successive year required him to have maintained the preceeding rate of good conduct pay for two years prior to the claim. The reason for this was, as Sapper indicates, stripes could easily be lost, but if they were, then the soldier did not have to take so long to recover it. In effect a soldier who achieved 28 years service could have all six stripes and attendant pay for 12 years good conduct - I hope I have managed to explain that OK!

There were arrangements to accelerate progress if the soldier maintained extended periods of good conduct.

Soldiers could lose stripes and pay on a partial pay, e.g. a soldier entitled to three stripes could lose one of them. The regulations set out, in some complexity, how all this would apply. It was possible for the entitlement that had been lost to simply be reinstated after a fixed period of time.

As a point of interest, soldiers of the garrisons of Lucknow and Alumbagh (sic) were granted one years seniority for their service, which counted towards good conduct pay.

I couldn't find any reference to being able to exchange good conduct awards for rank though.

The arrangements for recognition of good conduct changed at several points in Her Majestys reign, but the above were the arrangements in use in 1879.

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Hope this assists,
Adrian
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Thanks
Sapper Mason


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 333
Location: ANGLESEY
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Very Happy,
Dear Adrian , Many thanks for your DEFINITIVE explanation regarding GOOD CONDUCT STRIPES , the error is mine entirely in the belief a man could " exchange " these stripes for those of rank at some stage , i know that C / Sgt { Sgt Major } G W Mabin was awarded the MAXIMUM of SIX during his career , never once having been on any defaulters report in 30 years of service . I have seen a picture of a man wearing 5 such stripes but never SIX . Do you know just when the practice of wearing these stripes ceased ? . My apologies to those i had misled on this item , " Sapper " Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed
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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
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Not as long ago as you might think. They made a comeback only a few years ago but seem to have been quickly forgotten about again. I am unclear whether the regulation bringing them back was ever rescinded or whether it is still technically permissible for them to be worn. I will ask some trusty sergeant major types to find out.

Mike
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Query
Sapper Mason


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 333
Location: ANGLESEY
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Very Happy ,
Adrian , further to my previous am i correct in saying that if a man lost a GOOD CONDUCT STRIPE for whatever reason it could be re-instated ONE YEAR later assuming the individual did not get into further trouble( s ) in that year / and those of Sgt and above did not display the stripes on their tunics ? , so in therory a Cpl could have TWO rank chevrons and say FOUR GOOD CONDUCT STRIPES ? , blimey with all those chevrons on his tunic he would not be able to raise his arm ! , " Sapper " Wink
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Adrian Whiting


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 76
Location: Dorset, England
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Sapper,

Basically yes re the reinstatement point. The regulations permitted a time period to be stipulated after which the lost stripe(s) would be reinstated. There is no guidance on what period this might be in those regs, so a year seems feasible.

You are right about the ranks that would wear stripes at that time. This changed at various points, indeed by the mid 1880s the regulations only allowed them for private soldiers, thus excluding corporals, but including Lance Corporals (as they rank as privates as I think you will know).

If memory serves me correctly, there was once a photograph of a private soldier wearing six stripes published in the Regiment magazine. I recall the soldier being from a count regiment, but I cannot recall which one. I will ask around and see if I can locate a copy.

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Hope this assists,
Adrian
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Thanks
Sapper Mason


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 333
Location: ANGLESEY
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Very Happy,
Dear Adrian , thank you very much again for your response , i based my ONE YEAR re-enstatement of GOOD CONDUCT STRIPES on the service papers i currently hold , it does appear that it was a year assuming the individiual kept out of trouble that a lost GOOD CONDUCT STRIPE was given back , it must have kept the pay master very busy all this change in pay ! . In one of his books Ian Knight has a picture of a Pioneer Section of the 1 / 24 th , most of the men supporting beards , the Cpl has two rank chevrons and three good conduct stripes , the private at the end is showing FOUR Good conduct stripes , did the Pioneer sections of these infantry regiments form the Pioneer Corps and is it still ( apart from some naval types ) permitted for Pioneer Sgts to wear a beard ? , thanks again , " Sapper " . Wink
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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
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Sapper.

No they did not. The Pioneer Corps is a quite separate issue. These are the infantry's 'domestic pioneers' as opposed to assault pioneers (which came much later), neither category being anything to do with the Pioneer Corps.

As ever

Mike
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David Langley


Joined: 30 Nov 2012
Posts: 20
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The record is held by L-Cpl "Dutchy" Pearce of the R INN F. who achieved 12 badges under the rules, and retired c. 1925 with over 50 years service.

Had trouble bending his left arm to drink his pint!

The RW 1866 published the list 3, 8, 13, 18, 23, 28 years and also confirmed acceleration by two years for the last three badges for continuous good conduct. Again, soldiers under sergeant were eligible, and those junior to corporal of the Household Cavalry were added. In subsequent editions, this latter rank became corporal of horse. There is no note of the method of wearing of the badges, and such a note does not appear until 1881. The next RW (1870) makes yet another change, to 2, 6, 12, 18, 23 and 28, with acceleration by two years for the last three badges. These periods remained virtually unchanged until near-modern times, but there are suggestions that the left sleeve became the preferred one c.1875. Around this time, there was certainly some confusion as to the correct mode of wearing, culminating in the positioning of the badges on both sleeves for good measure, as shown in Carman’s Dictionary of Military Uniform on a 3-badge Northumberland Fusilier. In 1878 the warrant leaves the eligible ranks and the periods unchanged, and also grants an extra year’s credit to the garrisons of the Indian Mutiny sieges at Lucknow and the Alumbagh. There was in 1881 (as in so many other subjects under the Cardwell reforms) a major rewrite of the warrant with regard to Good Conduct Badges and Pay. Beginning with Paragraph 914, it noted that the badge is a high distinction conferred under the rank of corporal, 2nd corporal or bombardier as a token of ‘Our Royal approbation of good conduct’, to be marked by a chevron worn on the left arm (upper or lower not specified, but photographic evidence since the Crimean War confirms the lower sleeve). The periods, each associated with an increment of 1d, were 2, 6, 12, 18, 23 and 28 years, again with the possibility of two years acceleration for the last three.
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Long Service and Good Conduct Stripes
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