Medieval Origins: Lance Corporal
DickG (no login)
"LANCE CORPORAL - On long, arduous campaigns it sometimes happened that a man-at-arms lost his horses, and was compelled to fight on foot. As he was more than a common footslogger, he was usually placed in command over low born troops, as a "[Broken-] Lance Corporal"
The above is the earliest (medieval) reference found for lance corporal--it is also known that the lance corporal title was used to denote those temporarily appointed to NCO ranks (both corporal and sergeant).
The Lance Bombardier
After the rank of Bombardier replaced that of
Corporal in the Artillery in 1920 there still
remained the 'one-striper' to be given a title.
Because he was equal in status to a
Lance-Corporal in other arms of the service, he
was called 'Lance-Bombardier'.
Why were these ranks pre-fixed by the rank lance?
The origin of the rank 'Lance-Corporal ' appears
to go back over 300 years when mounted
men-at-arms in the Army came from the monied
classes of society. According to Sir James Turner
in his work Pallas Armata (published in 1653), a
Lance-Corporal was originally called a 'Lance
Spezzato', from the Italian word 'spezzato'
meaning 'broken'. He was a trooper who having
broken his lance and lost his horse in action was
entertained by a Captain of Foot until he could
re-arm himself and obtain a remount.
From being a Captain's companion he was in the
course of time downgraded to Corporal's
New Zealand Military History:
R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GySgt USMC (Ret.)
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