Land Below the Wind

Borneo is the third biggest island in the world. It is not far from Singapore and Australia. Sabah is in the top part of Borneo, next to Sarawak and it has a 900 miles coastline with the warm South China Sea and Celebes Sea. The country is very hot and has tropical rainforest, mountains and lots of beautiful flowers and plants, fishes and jungle animals.
Our family had a great holiday in Borneo thanks to our dad’s friend Clarence and his family. Clarence is an important man, a bit like an English Lord. In Borneo he’s called Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Clarence B Malakun JP and his wife is Datin Seri Panglima Sylvia Wong. They have 3 sons – Hugo, Mandela and Benjamin, and 4 daughters – Isabella, Rexanna, Noemi and Abigail. They live in a huge Villa and Clarence has his own crocodile, a herd of buffaloes and some deer!

Long before we were born, Dad was a soldier in Borneo. It was 1965 and he was 18. There was a war called ‘Confrontation’ and English soldiers were helping the Malaysian people. Dad was on an island called Labuan and his job was to drop parachutes into the jungle with the soldiers’ food and bullets and everything they needed.

Our country helped Malaysia through other bad times in the 1950s and 1960s and the people did not forget us. In 2005 the King of Malaysia made a special medal called Pingat Jasa Malaysia to thank the soldiers for being brave and helping to keep Malaysia free. Dad went to Maidstone and was given the medal by a Malaysian Colonel who said “The people of Malaysia are very thankful to you all. It was 40 or 50 years ago when, as young men, you found yourselves in the jungle fighting not only the Communist Terrorists but also mosquitos, leeches and wild animals. It is an honour to meet you.”

Also a long time ago there was a big World War and lots of fighting in many parts of the world. A terrible thing happened in Borneo in 1945 called “Sandakan to Ranau Death Marches”. 6000 people died. They were prisoners of war. They were forced to march 134 miles into the jungle and they died along the way of starvation and sickness and other horrible things. Only 6 prisoners survived. They were Australians. 641 who died were British soldiers. Our army in England didn’t forget them either and in 2011 fourteen soldiers from Wiltshire went to Borneo and did the same march as a memory for the soldiers who died. They called the march “Sabah Salute”. The soldiers carried sacks of rice and they gave the rice to an orphanage.

Dad is in a soldiers’ club called the National Malaya & Borneo Veterans Association (NMBVA). He lays a wreath for Borneo soldiers on Remembrance Day. He was very interested in “Sabah Salute” and he kept in touch with the people who were leading it. At the same time, 7000 miles away in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah’s capital city, Clarence was also very impressed by what the British soldiers were doing. Dad and Clarence became friends and Clarence invited us to Kota Kinabalu.

In November 2012, we went with our Girl Guide Unit to the town’s Remembrance Day Service. Dad gave us bunches of poppies and we had our photo taken with the Malaysian flag. We were taking the poppies to Borneo on behalf of the Girl Guides, our school and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Mum had a bunch for the Royal Institute of British Architects and Dad had a wreath for NMBVA.

At Easter 2013 we travelled to Sabah. It was a very long flight. Clarence gave us a big guest house on his own estate (Taman Malakun) with a maid called Alaina and cars and everything else we needed. He was so generous. It was also a sad time for his family because his father-in-law and favourite uncle had died but that didn’t stop him making it a great time for us.

We had a really packed programme. Here are just some of the places we went to and things we did: Laid poppies at Labuan War Cemetery and Kundasang and Sandakan Memorials, staying overnight at the Grand Dorsett Hotel in Labuan and Sabah Hotel at Sandakan. Kota Kinabalu National Park and Poring Hot Springs. Lok Kawi Wildlife Park where we rode a pygmy elephant. Sandakan Crocodile Farm, scary when a crocodile snapped at us! Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary – we adopted an orang-utan called Lumiyud. Agnes Keith House and the English Tea House. Visits to holiday resorts and adventure clubs, towns, cultural villages, mosques, museums, aquarium and an upside-down bungalow. Swimming, snorkelling and parasailing and shopping in huge malls and exciting street markets. Lots of restaurants and eating houses – noodles with everything, even breakfast! Karaoke…

Dad and Clarence are magistrates and Clarence is President of Sabah Justices of the Peace. Dad talked to them and afterwards we had a barbecue for everybody at Hugo’s house where we tasted rice wine called tapei. It was horrible! We were invited to the Kota Kinabalu High Court for Mandela’s “Call to the Bar Ceremony”. He wore a black gown and white wig. Dad went to meet the big judge. Dad also went to Clarence’s Uncle’s funeral.

We visited a Government Secondary School (SMK Limbanak) and Chinese Medium School (SRJK(C) Yue Min) where we met Malaysian Girl Guides and were taught Chinese songs by children in the nursery. It was fun being with them and they were very happy to see us. We swam in the pool at a fantastic house called Sinurambi high in the rainforest, and we spent an afternoon with the Bukit Harapan Therapy & Orphanage Community where we danced the “Gangnam Style” and sang English Girl Guide songs with the orphans. The children were so friendly. They hugged us and it made us sad that they didn’t have parents.

Dad said the trip brought back lots of happy memories. Borneo had a special place in his heart and he was not much older than us when he first came. Lots of things had changed but some things were the same – “the beauty of the rainforest, the mysterious mountains, white sands and clear sea, the heat and smells and, more than anything, the smiles and genuine warmth of the people…” We agree with him. Borneo is a wonderful place and the people are so nice.

Family of Bob LaVaillant

Warrant Officer Receives Medal in Kenya

By: Cpl. D.H. Howorth, Military Observer in East Africa

An RAOC Warrant-Officer who, in the course of his Army duty, travels thousands of miles in East Africa, has been awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. He is WO1 John Giles (37) of 3, Prospect Terrace, Jersey, Channel Islands. His wife Olive and their three sons are with him in Kenya. The family live in Nairobi.

The ceremony took place at 541 Ordnance Dept, Kahawa, 11 miles from the Kenya capital. The presentation was made by Brigadier M.W. Briggs, Chief of Staff, East Africa Command.

Giles, who joined the Army at the age of 18, was Ordnance Warrant Officer, HQ Troops East Africa Command, Nairobi.

His job took him on trips all over Kenya, and once every three months he went to military units in Uganda and Tanganyika. On each of these long trips he travelled over 1,000 miles.

Before going to Kenya in January 1959, WO1. Giles had been stationed in Italy, Egypt, Palestine, Cyprus and Libya, with a spell at 14 Bn RAOC, Didcot, in between. Whilst serving at Didcot, he lived two doors away from WO2 Hornsby, who is also now in Kenya, and who received his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal at the same ceremony.

Cdr Giles CV

Selection of Cdr Giles photo’s

Room for some on top: The modern day Conductor RLC

By WO1 (Cdr) Mike Coyle, RLC(V)

Regimental Warrant Officer of Volunteers, HQ RLC TA 1999 – 2003

(Updated 5 Feb 03)


The letter from the Brigadier went something like, ‘I am pleased to inform you that you have been selected to the appointment of Conductor RLC… This as you are aware, is the senior appointment for soldiers not only in the RLC but in the Army.‘ It went on … ‘the appointment is limited to a small number of Warrant Officers Class One and carries certain privileges.’

The key words here are selected, appointment and privileges. For my own piece of mind I needed to establish how was the selection made, a little more about the appointment and, more to the point, what were those privileges mentioned? But first a little background.

The appointment of Conductor is an ancient one, some 600 years old. The authoritative writings began in around 1958 in the RAOC Gazette, when Lt Col WHJ Gillow MBE produced a much quoted article describing the development of the appointment. The bulk of that article has been developed further by McKenzie (1998) and can be found on the World Wide Web and is copied on this site). Further insights can be found in RASC Journal for Nov 1960, by Lt(QM) RK Cooley RASC.

The search for more information about the appointment, particularly about the ‘certain privileges’ led me a number of other documents and articles held at the RLC Museum at Deepcut. The question of recognition of this most senior of appointments has been the subject of great debate and clarification over the years. In particular, the question of physical recognition by badge of rank or dress appears to have taken an inordinate amount of time and effort. Current badges of rank and dress date only from 1918, almost 600 years after the appointment was introduced and confirmed (Lawson, 1940)

The historical, military function of Conductors was in provision of logistical support for the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers. During the 1700’s, with increasing dependence of the Army on Artillery on the Battlefield, the need to move guns, ammunition stores and consumables became paramount, at the same time with the movement of pontoons and field stores, the role also provided logistical main effort for the Engineers. It wasn’t until 1859 that the function of the Conductor became a military imperative. Prior to that, it had been a civilian commissariat activity under the control of the Master General of Stores, an appointment of the Board of Ordnance. Civilians they may have been, however they were awarded campaign medals, wore uniform and draw a salary from the Army. Interestingly, responsibilities included supervision of contracts. No change there then! In those early days, pay and allowances for soldiers and officers was supervised by the Conductor. There are many that wish the same were true now!

The Royal Warrant for Appointment didn’t arrive until 11 January 1879, when the first warrants went to the Commissariat & Transport and to Ordnance as Conductors of Supply and Conductors of Stores. At that time their position in relation to other ranks was clarified ‘their position in our army shall be inferior to that of all commissioned officers and superior to that of all non-commissioned officers. Conductors shall have full power to exercise command over any subordinates of the Departments of our Army, or non-commissioned officers or soldiers of our Army, who may be placed under there orders.’ In 1888, Badges and Rank (W.Officers) Army Part 2, Rank & Seniority of Warrant Officers (Army and R.Marines), Page 27A is clear in its definition of the Conductor appointment and its seniority state.

The appointment of Conductor of Supplies was abolished in 1892 and substituted with ‘SSM’. Since there are official records of Conductors in 1897, it is reasonable to assume that the Conductor of Stores remained and the pedigree of the current appointment stems from there. This view is reinforced by the decision, just 10 years earlier, on 6 April 1887 to require senior appointments, including Conductors to be qualified as a Clerk.

There now follows a number of serious debating points! According to Gillow (1958) and Cooley (1960), on the abolition of the appointment in 1892, Conductors, Master Gunners 1st Class and SSM’s 1st Class ‘rank with one another’. However, because there is some evidence that the appointment of Conductor (of Stores) continued throughout, it is reasonable to assume that the 1879 definition stands. In modern times there are sufficient vested interests in keeping this senior appointment in equivalence. If I was to ask the Academy Serjeant Major (yes, Serjeant Major) the Royal Artillery Sergeant Major or indeed the Garrison Sergeant Major, London District, who had seniority, a vocal debate would be sure to ensue. All the received wisdom and Queens Regulations 1975 Amdt 25(Ch 9.169) indicates there is no recent confirmation of the seniority of the Conductor appointment. We of course defer to history and precedence.

Maj NP Dawnay, in his authoritative text on ‘The Badges of Warrant and Non-commissioned Rank in the British Army, 1949, states ‘As early as 1779, there existed subordinate Officers styled ‘Conductors’ who were assistants to the Commissaries of Stores, but, in the British Army, the title seems to have fallen into disuse early in the 19 century….’     He goes on ‘At the beginning of 1879 the title was resuscitated, and a new rank superior to all Non-Commissioned Officers and inferior only to commissioned Officers, was created.     Members of this grade were styled Warrant Officers: those in the Commissariat and Transport Corps having the title of Conductor of Supplies; those in the Ordnance Store Corps, that of Conductor of Stores. During their first year of probation, these Warrant Officers were appointed Sub Conductors.’     Importantly, it concludes ‘The THREE classes of Warrant Officer which now exist are a direct descendent of the rank created in 1879.’ This leaves no doubt as to the probity of the appointment.

As early as 20 years ago in 1978, worries were beginning to emerge about the number of Conductors being appointed. Clearly, how can this be the most senior appointment if a large number are being appointed? A quote from the time suggested that the situation ‘Diminished the special nature of the appointment.’ and ‘the appointment had lost status and prestige that it should rightfully enjoy and the Senior Warrant Officer in the British Army.’ Briefing notes for the April 1981 Conductors Promotion Board clarifies the number of appointments to be made should not exceed ‘25% of one third of entitled Warrant Officers Class One less all RSM’s. The plan was to reduce the number of appointments by 75% in 1979, 50% in 1980, 20% in 1981 and 10% by 1982. In the year 2000 Conductor Appointment Board the number had been cut to 5% of entitled WO1’s (less all RSM’s).

By 1981, Maj Gen Brown, Log Exec (Army) was involved in a great deal of correspondence on another matter: How should this senior appointment be addressed? On 17 August 1981, he states: ‘I wish the following set of rules to be adopted:

  1. WO1 Conductors are to be referred to, in verbal address as ‘Conductor’.
  2. WO1 SSM are to be referred to as ‘Mr’. WO2’s should be addressed by appointment, E.g. CQMS, Sgt Major, etc. I would prefer the courtesy address of ‘Mr’ restricted to WO1’s other than Conductor.’

Gen Sir Michael Gow, C in C BAOR, endorsed this protocol in June 1981. In a letter to Gen Brown he refers to ‘the senior appointment in the entire Army’ and goes on to say ‘The holder of such an ancient title should be addressed as such.’ Incidentally, according to defence writing protocol, the written for of address: WO1(Cdr) Name. Not as is often seen WO1(CDR)

Returning to the issue of privilege, the General Order 94 of July 1879 which declared and confirmed the superiority of the Conductors appointment went on to state ‘When numbers are not sufficient to form a mess for themselves, they are at liberty to become Honorary Members of the Sgt’s Mess’. GO94 also introduces the rule, still extant, that Conductors should take place on all parades as officers but would never salute and that when required should ‘act in the place of a subaltern officer when required’ (QR’s, Ch 9.169). This clearly gives rise to the opportunity for Conductors to be invited to use the Officers Mess, although I can find no clear guidance or instruction for this.

The Modern Perspective

The Conductors appointment is not a foregone conclusion for all WO1’s. Now a days it is regarded as recognition of a set of particular qualities of a particular individual. Currently Conductors in the RLC are fulfilling challenging roles in all the trades across the Corps. In my case I am a Caterer, a Territorial Army Caterer, without Regular experience. My letter of appointment states clearly that my own ability, experience and conduct were recognised by my promotion to WO1. The appointment as a Conductor now shows to all members of the Army the special esteem in which I am held in the Corps and marks not only the long devoted service given but also the broader aspects of my work and involvement in service life. I share this not as an ego trip for myself but in a bid to understand what the ‘Ancient Appointment of Conductor’ is all about.

In history the role of Conductor was very specific and prescriptive. In the modern army of the 21st Century the emphasis is a little different. It has been made clear on a number of occasions in preparation for this article, that the appointment is in recognition of an individual’s contribution to the life and work of the Corps. It is not a promotion to a higher Rank. It is THE senior appointment for WO1’s. Conductors are reminded that essentially, our contemporary role is to provide an example to officers, NCO’s and OR’s, the ‘training’ of young officers and to represent the Corps in and at prestigious events, as well as carry out their specialist employment responsibilities and duties. Personally, I am immensely proud to be the senior TA soldier in the British Army. Proud to be an example proving that pure bred TA soldiers can aspire to the most senior appointment, not only as Regimental Warrant Officer of Volunteers, but as Conductor.

But what of the current holders of the Appointment of Conductor; at the moment there are 16 Conductors in the RLC and one in the RLC TA.

In a bid to discover what 21st Century Conductors do I have undertaken a survey attempting to establish the current state. In Part 2, the next article, we shall review the material from that survey and try to establish what it means to be a Conductor in the British Army of the 21 Century.

© Mike Coyle

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The Appointment of ‘The Conductor’

Appendix to ORD 1/BR/2150(DOS) Dated 12 November 1968

Warrant Officer Class I Appointments in the RAOC

History of the Appointment of the Conductor

Compiled by the Curator of the Corps Museum 1968

Conductor from Conducere, to conduct. One who loads, guides or escorts.

When first asked by the Editor to write a short article on the appointment of Conductor of Conductor, I agreed, thinking that a few lines and some padding, would take but an hour or two. That was a year ago. Little did I realise that so much research would be needed or, that so much material would require to be sifted; my apologies if important points have been left out.

It was in March 1920 that the RAOC Gazette carried the then old story of the raw recruit (ex tram driver) who, on arrival at Red Barracks, Woolwich asked “Eh, which’s Conductor Smith?” A RAOC Conductor replied, “That’s me, What do you want?” to which the raw recruit said “Sorry mate, ab thowt it wer t’bloke on t’same owd tram as me”, Apart from illustrating the mystery that surrounds the appointment there is nowadays little merit in the story trams are no longer with us!!!  

Perhaps the earliest recorded mention of Conductors is that in a Statute of Westminster of 1327 whereby Edward III enacted that the wages of Conductor (Conveyors) of soldiers from the Shires to the place of Assembly would no longer be a charge upon the Shire.

As long ago as the Siege of Boulogne in 1544 there were Conductors of Ordnance; there were also Conductors in the train of artillery assembled in 1618 while in 1619 Conductors of the Mattresses’ were paid 2/6d per day. The following year one Richard Huckley was appointed Conductor of the trenches as Sergeant at l/6d per day while Conductors of the Trenches and of the Train got 2/6d.

A Royal Warrant dated 20 Jan 1642, addressed to Sir John Haydon, Lieut-General of the Ordnance, concerning a Train of Artillery to be formed for service oversees, lists three Conductors viz John-Kerbye for the draught horse, Christopher Jones, for the ammunition and William Anderson for the Fireworkers. Also gunners, matresses, a carpenter, a wheeler and a smith.

In the instructions for Our Principal Engineer, issued by King Charles in 1683, is included “To endeavour to provide for Our Service good and able; Engineers, Conductors and work bases. In time of action … to see to the breaking of the ground, planting of batteries, making of platforms, conducting of trenches and mines, and to leave such Engineers and Conductors as will be necessary to see them carried on and executed , , ,” Conductors wore red cloth cloaks. The Chief Engineer – a suit of silk armour. This is 1688.

With every train assembled there were Conductors, in 1689 a train for service in Ireland included a Chief Conductor at 4/- per day with 12 Conduct: at 3/-. In 1691 a train for Flanders included 8 Conductors of Stores at 3/-, a Conductor plumber with assistant at 4/- while 11 Conductors got 3/-. Also to Flanders went 2 Conductors of Woolpacks and 2 Conductors of horses, all at 3/-, Woolpacks sound interesting, were they seats of some sort? perhaps the origin of the 346,000 chairs held by the RAOC in 1956!

In I693, a Conductor and plumber at 4/-, 28 Conductors at 3/- were included in the staff assembled with other Conductors and coopers at 5/- for with a train of artillery.

At the capture of Newfoundland in 1762, Lt Gen Amherst’s force included a Conductor and a Clerk of Stores named Foreman. These officials were from the Board of Ordnance Depots at New York and Halifax respectively,

Thos Simes Esq, in his book ‘The Military Guide for Young Officers’ dated 1776, writes “Conductors are assistants to the Commissary of the Stores, to receive or deliver out stores to the army, to attend at the magazines by turn when in garrison and to look after the ammunition waggons in the field;  They bring their accounts every night to the Commissary and are immediately’ under his command.”

A Universal Military Dictionary of 1779, by Captain George Smith, Inspector of the RMA Woolwich, states re the Commissary General of Stores, “A civilian officer who has charge of all stores for which he is accountable to the Office of Ordnance, He is allowed various other’ Commissaries, Clerks and Conductors  especially in wartime. The dictionary defines Conductors as “subordinate officers who are assistants to the Commissary of Stores and whose work it is to conduct depots, or magazines, from one place to another; they also have charge of ammunition waggons in the field”. A Royal Warrant of 1 Feb 1812 detailing an establishment for a field train, includes 60 Conductors of Stores, 1st and 2nd Class, with pay at 4/- and 3/-, For allowances and share in prize money they wore, entitled to half of that of a Subaltern Officer.

From the early records of Woolwich Arsenal we learn that one Charles Sargent was a Conductor at 16 in 1808, a clerk in 1811, was in the field train at Corunna with Sir John Moore and was pensioned in 1818, He died at Woolwich in 1886, Truly a remarkable thing to be pensioned at the early age of 26 years and to draw the pension for 68 years!

When the iron and brass ordnance, ammunition and stores were loaded on ‘transports’ at Woolwich in June 1813 destined for the Siege of Danzig., there embarked, among others, 3 Conductors of Stores, as well as an Assistant Commissary of Ordnance and three Clerks of Stores,

It is well known that Wellington had strong views upon the place of the storekeeping personnel of the Board of Ordnance in the field and we find that in his establishments for the field train department were included 122 store-keeping, clerks, l50 conductors.  These were responsible for the receipt, delivery, safety and transport, of field train material.

During the Waterloo campaign of 1815, 41 engineer officers followed the army commanding 800 sappers and miners, 550 conductors or drivers of the train, 160 waggons and other carriages more than 1000 horses. History records that the conductors behaved very badly and often deserted, being replaced by sappers who answered very well. And rightly so, for could not the Chief Engineer say, with every truth, “The Sappers and Miners may be new but they are good”.

For the Crimea War of 1854 a siege train was hurriedly formed . .. the personnel included 8 sergeants & conductors of stores.

The Land Transport Corps was re-organised in 1856 and Included Conductors (1st class drivers) In the establishment. The Regulations for the duties of the Commissariat Department, 1845, dealing with the carriage by land of consignment of provisions, laid down that “these consignments are to be weighed ox-counted in the presence of the Conductor so that he may be satisfied as to the quantity on the weighbills or bills of lading “and” that he will take charge of them till arrival at destination when he will see to the handing over to the Commissariat Officer to whom they are consigned’,’.

For the New Zealand War of 1860 Conductors accompanied the Officers of the Military Store Department, There were six of them transfers from the Royal Artillery, the Foot Guards and the -Infantry of the Line. They had to be at least of the rank of Sergeant and they attended a six weeks course in Ordnance Store duties and procedure at the Tower and at Woolwich Arsenal. Records of the preparation of these men show that with their kit they each were issued with two pounds of tobacco at a cost of 2/l½d per lb. They did   their work well and were well reported on at the end of the campaign,     

By Royal Warrant of 11 January 1879 a. class of Warrant Officers was constituted “to assist in the discharge of the subordinate duties of the Commissariat and Transport, and of the Ordnance Store Departments of Our Army to be denominated “Conductors of Supplies” and “Conductors of Stores”, respectively. Their position in our Army shall be inferior to that of all commissioned Officers and superior to that of all non-commissioned Officers. 

Conductors shall at -the same time have full power to exercise command over subordinates of the  Department of Our Army or non-commissioned officers or soldiers of our Army, who may be placed under their orders.

Candidates were to be of not less rank than Sergeant and not loss than 35 years of age if of that rank and no more than 40 years of age if of the rank of Staff sergeant. While on probation they were styled: Acting Conductor and received not loss than 4/- per day pay. When appointed Conductor they received 5/6 per day and 6/- per day after five years, service as such.

In March, May and June 1879 there were 35 Conductors of viz 16 from the Royal Artillery and 2 from the Royal Engineers while the remaining 17 were already serving with the Ordnance” Store Branch of the first Army Service Corps which became the Ordnance Store Corps in September 1881.

Paragraphs 689 – 716, Regulations for the Ordnance Store Department  1879, laid down that “A Conductor must supervise the preparation; and the loading and then accompany the gunpowder and explosives When conveyed from Woolwich to its destination.

The title Conductor of Supplies was, abolished in 1892′ and that of Staff Sergeant Major 1st Class’ substituted.

A Conductor RAOC a Master Gunner 1st Class RA and a Staff Sergeant Major 1st Class RASC rank with one another according to. the date of their promotion or appointment, or by Corps precedence if promoted or appointed on the same day.

From 1879 to 1897 I find no reference to badges of rank for Conductors and Sub Conductors, but on 20 Feb 1897 an official minute records that “badges for Conductors AOC for wear with khaki drill – various proposals put forward i.e. crown, crown with laurel wreath, officers shoulder straps, V.R., officers field cap badge, – but nothing definite decided”, However, on 11 July 1900 it is noted that “AOC Conductors and Sub Conductors will in future wear distinguishing badges viz Crown in wreath, gold on scarlet for Conductors and Crown gold large on scarlet for Sub Conductors”. These are obviously full dress badges

It would appear that by 1898 Sub Conductors had been raised to senior warrant rank as in the Clothing Regulations for that year they are bracketted with Conductors and shewn as having no badge.

There seems to-be no direct evidence as to when the practice started, but from 1898 to 1909, Conductors and Sub Conductors wore gorget patches on Khaki drill, the patches being dark blue edged with l/8 inch scarlet material,, For ‘some years therefore these warrant Officers wore both rank badges and gorget patches on khaki drill frocks,

In 1901 the. crown within a wreath was officially introduced as the badge. for the Conductor AOC, and the Staff Sergeant Major 1st Class ASC, For some inexplicable reason the Sub Conductors had to wait till 1904 for their badge i.e. the large cream, to be introduced.

Following the introduction of the rank of Warrant Officer Class II in February 1915, there appeared an army order specifying the badges to be worn by Warrant Officers Class I and II. In this order, the Conductor wore the crown and wreath while the Sub Conductor wore the Royal Arms,    

It was not, however, until October 1918, in Army Order 309, that the badges of rank question was settled, viz for a Conductor, the Royal Arms in Wreath and for a Sub Conductor, the Royal Arms. And so it is today,

Army Council Instruction 1193 of 1945 introduced the practice of Warrant Officers Class 1 wearing, with battledress, the badges of rank on a background of the colour worn as a backing to badges of the rank worn by Officers of the same Corps

It is of course, a well known rule that a Conductor and a Sub Conductor do duty as; Subaltern Officers and may sit on such enquiries and boards as way be authorised by regulations. On all parades they take post as Officer but do not salute,  (i.e. with a sword even though wearing one).

So we see that in early days the title Conductor meant just what we mean today when we speak of a Conductor viz a person who ‘conducts’ persons or things from place to place. Since 1879, however, the Conductor in the Army has held a senior and responsible position, particularly in the Ordnance Corps” where he has exerted, and I trust will continue to exert, an influence as a pillar of knowledge and strength to the Ordnance Officer and to the young man making his career in the ranks of the Corps which holds the traditions of a service that has existed throughout the history of the country,

With sincere acknowledgements to the late Brig. C.C, Phipps, CBS, MC, Secretary, Institute of Royal Engineers and to Lieut Col A.G. Penna, OBE of the Institution of the Royal Army Service Corps,

NOTE: The correct mode of address of a Conductor or Sub Conductor is “Conductor” from Officers or other WOs but “Sir” from NCOs and men,

Prepared by M Comerford , 23rd August 2004