Rank hath its privileges

I do have some more substantial posts in the pipeline, but at the moment I’ve been head down and trying to bang out thesis chapters, as the deadline is less than three weeks away…

In the meanwhile, I thought I would share this list I found during my researches. I was aware that the RAF didn’t get its own ranks until 1919, and that personnel used the RFC/RNAS titles until then. I was also aware that there was some discussion about the final titles to be used; what I didn’t know was that a list of ranks was proposed that wouldn’t annoy the Army or the Royal Navy.  They were:

  • Ensign
  • Lieutenant
  • Flight-Leader
  • Squadron-Leader
  • Reeve
  • Banneret
  • Fourth-Ardian
  • Third-Ardian
  • Second-Ardian
  • Ardian
  • Air Marshal

Despite sounding like a name from a second-rate fantasy novel, apparently ‘Ardian’ comes from the Gaelic ‘Ard’ – ‘Chief’ and ‘Ian’ or ‘Eun’ – ‘Bird’.

Source: John WR Taylor, Pictorial History of the RAF, Volume One: 1918-1939 (Shepperton: Ian Allan, 1968)


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