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 or enlisted rank, 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.


Lance Corporal is the lowest of the non-commissioned officer ranks in the Australian Army, falling between Private and Corporal. It is the only appointed rank, and thus demotion is easier than with other ranks. It is also the only rank for which a soldier does not have to pass a specified series of tests. 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. There is no equivalent rank within the Royal Australian Air Force or Royal Australian Navy.

During World War I, the rank of 2nd Corporal (equivalent to Lance Corporal) was used in Engineer units, particularly Railway units. This rank, however, is no longer used. [cite web
title =Badges of Rank; Australian Navy, Army, Air Force.
publisher =Digger History
url =
accessdate = 2007-03-28

A common nickname for a Lance Corporal 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.


The equivalent of a Lance Corporal in the French Army is a "soldat de premiere classe" (soldier first class). Historically this rank was distinguished by a diagonal lace stripe on the lower sleeve in branch colour. Since World War II this insignia has been replaced by a small single inverted chevron worn higher on the arm.

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.


The rank of Lance-Corporal (LCP) in the Singapore Armed Forces ranks between Private First Class (PFC) and Corporal (CPL).

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. The badge of rank is a 1-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 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards and The Queen's Royal Hussars wear 2-bar chevrons and in the Household Cavalry a 2-bar chevron surmounted by the crown). 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".

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.

There is no equivalent Royal Air Force rank except in the RAF sections of Combined Cadet Forces seen in some British Schools. The CCF rank of Cadet Junior Corporal (also bearing one chevron) is used in order that NCOs can be ranked on parity with the Cadet Lance-Corporals in the Army Sections.

United States

Lance Corporal (LCpl) is the third lowest enlisted rank in the U.S. Marine Corps, just above Private First Class and below Corporal. It is not a non-commissioned officer rank. The Marines are the only component of the U.S. Armed Forces to have Lance Corporals.

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. Lance corporals served 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.

Because it is not a NCO status, only ranks equal to or above call a Lance Corporal by last name. Four common Marine nicknames for a Lance Corporal are "Lance Coolie", "Lance Coconut", "Lance Colonel", or "Lance Criminal." It can also stand for the acronym "Last Chance to Play Lost"(L Cpl.) or also "Last Cleaning Person Left" indicating the expected mistakes a Lance Corporal would make in the hopes of becoming a Corporal.

ee also

*Comparative military ranks
*Lance Sergeant
* [ Lance Corporal of Marines Association]


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  • Lance corporal — Lance Lance (l[a^]ns), n. [OE. lance, F. lance, fr. L. lancea; cf. Gr. lo gchh. Cf. {Launch}.] 1. A weapon of war, consisting of a long shaft or handle and a steel blade or head; a spear carried by horsemen, and often decorated with a small flag; …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • 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

  • lance corporal — lance cor por*al, n. 1. A {lancepesade}. [PJC] 2. An enlisted member of the United States Marine Corps ranking between a private first class and a corporal. [PJC] 3. The lowest rank of corporal; a term used in the British military. RHUD [PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • lance corporal — n [Date: 1700 1800; Origin: lancepesade officer of lowest rank (16 19 centuries), from early French lancepessade, from Old Italian lancia spezzata broken lance, experienced soldier ] a low level rank in the Marines or the British army, or someone …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • lance corporal — noun count a person of low rank in the MARINES or the British army …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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