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British Army Order of Precedence

Explanation of the British Army Order of Military Precedence and its significance for the QARANC

When on parade Regiments and Corps of the British Army have an Order of Precedence with the most senior being on the right. This isn't just a way to stop a free for all forming up with a battle of the fittest to get to the front of any parade. As with all things military it is about order and practicality. Though Units, Regiments of Infantry and Cavalry no longer form up on battlefields and that historically this was always met for operational and command factors, the history for the order of seniority still exists from these down to include the supporting arms and services. This practical purpose maintains discipline and a degree of order.

The Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps are in penultimate place, below the Royal Army Physical Training Corps and above the Corps of Army Music. The Royal Army Medical Corps is higher and between the Royal Logistic Corps and the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. There is a full list at Wikipedia.

So this explains why the QAs march down the steps of the Royal Albert Hall during the Festival of Remembrance service and at the Cenotaph towards the rear! It also explains the position of the recently laid NMA Heroes Square Paving Stone.

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As an interesting point the Women's Royal Army Corps and the QA's were formed on the same day (1 February 1949) but in the Order of Precedence the QARANC were senior. It is thought that this may be due to their longer lineage, ie the QAIMNS, over the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

Regimental seniority is still rightly jealously guarded and the Order of Precedence is determined primarily by a combination of status, role and function and most particularly date of origin. So for example the Royal Scots, the old 1st of Foot, were extremely proud of their position as the senior Infantry regiment of the Line, ie non Foot Guards infantry.

Within the Army there is a definite order of seniority: Household troops (ie the Horse Cavalry and Foot Guards) come first, followed by the Cavalry/Royal Armoured Corps, Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Royal Signals, Infantry and then the supporting arms and services in order of date of formation. The latter being where the QAs and RAMC fall in.

With changes to the Armed Forces over the decades, such as amalgamation of Regiments there comes movement up or down the Order of Precedence. This affects the whole of the Army but more especially the Infantry and, in recent times, the bulk of the supporting corps. The golden rule is that when two or more regiments or corps amalgamates to form a new regiment or corps, the new body takes the seniority of the senior amalgamating partner. Thus, the seniority of the Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) was determined by its senior component which was the Royal Corps of Transport (previously the Royal Army Service Corps).

As mentioned earlier, the QARANC, when it became part of the Army in 1949, held penultimate place after the Army Catering Corps and before the Women's Royal Army Corps. Although the WRAC and QARANC were formed on the same day, it is presumed that the latter were considered more senior because of their forebear being formed in 1902. The WRAC forebear, the ATS, was formed in 1938.

After the disbandment of the WRAC in April 1992 and the transfer of women to other Corps and regiments, the QARANC was 'tail end charlie'. However, they resumed their penultimate place once again with the formation of the Corps of Army Music in September 1994. Although army bands had supported their respective regiments and corps across the spectrum of the Order of Precedence for many decades, it was felt appropriate that they be placed at the bottom.

Forces War Records

Forces War Records are a genealogy site where you can find military records of over 6 million British Armed Forces personnel cross matched with over 4000 Regiments, Bases and Ships. This link includes a free search and a special discount of 40% off membership offer for visitors who use the discount code AF40 if they decide to become a member.
Search Now. A unique feature is their WW1 Soldiers Medical Records section.

If you would like to contribute to this page, suggest changes or inclusions to this website or would like to send me a photograph then please e-mail me.

This website is not affiliated or endorsed by The Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC) or the Ministry of Defence.

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