Lance Corporal

From Academic Kids

Lance Corporal (LCpl or L/Cpl) is a military rank used by some elements of the British, Commonwealth, and U.S. armed forces. It ranks above privates and below corporal, although its specific status beyond that differs between the forces that use it.

The term may have originated in the Middle Ages as a title for corporals who had lost their horses on a battlefield and would join an infantry company for the duration of the conflict. Such persons were known as "Corporals of Lance" instead of "Corporals of Horse". Over time, the term "Corporal of Lance" evolved into the present day title of Lance Corporal.

Alternatively, the OED derives the term from an amalgamation of 'corporal' with the now-archaic 'lancepesade', an NCO of the lowest rank. This in turn derives from the Italian 'lanzia spezzata', 'broken lance' or 'broken spear', i.e. a veteran soldier who had broken his spear in combat.


British Army and Royal Marines

Lance-Corporal is the lowest ranking non-commissioned officer in the British Army and Royal Marines, between Private and Corporal. The badge of rank is a single chevron worn on both sleeves (although Lance-Corporals in the Foot Guards wear two chevrons and in the Household Cavalry two chevrons under a 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 acting 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 rank of Second Corporal, which was a substantive rank, until 1920. The equivalent in the British Indian Army was Lance-Naik or Acting Lance-Daffadar.

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 Marine Corps

Missing image
Lance Corporal insignia (USMC)

In the U.S. Marine Corps, Lance Corporal is the third lowest enlisted rank, just above Private First Class and below Corporal. It is not a non-commissioned officer military rank.

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Flag of the United States of America

U.S. military enlisted ranks

  E-1 E-2 E-3 E-4 E-5 E-6 E-7 E-8 E-9
Air Force: AB Amn A1C SRA SSgt TSgt MSgt SMSgt CMSgt -


Army: PV1 PV2 PFC SPC -






Marine Corps: Pvt PFC LCpl Cpl Sgt SSgt GySgt MSgt -

1st Sgt

MGySgt -

SgtMaj - SMOMC



Republic of Singapore

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 in Singapore, it is not a non-commissioned officer rank. Conscript soldiers are usually promoted to this rank somewhere in the middle of their national service term.

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).


The Canadian Armed Forces abolished the rank of Lance Corporal on their creation as a unified force in 1968.

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