Captain (British Army and Royal Marines)

Captain (British Army and Royal Marines)

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Please see Captain (land) for other versions of this army and marines rank.


Captain (Capt) is a junior officer rank of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 and Royal Marines
Royal Marines
The Corps of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, commonly just referred to as the Royal Marines , are the marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom and, along with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service...

. It ranks above Lieutenant
Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 and below Major and has a NATO ranking code of OF-2. The rank is equivalent to a Lieutenant
Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 in the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 and to a Flight Lieutenant
Flight Lieutenant
Flight lieutenant is a junior commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many Commonwealth countries. It ranks above flying officer and immediately below squadron leader. The name of the rank is the complete phrase; it is never shortened to "lieutenant"...

 in the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

. The rank of Captain
Captain (Royal Navy)
Captain is a senior officer rank of the Royal Navy. It ranks above Commander and below Commodore and has a NATO ranking code of OF-5. The rank is equivalent to a Colonel in the British Army or Royal Marines and to a Group Captain in the Royal Air Force. The rank of Group Captain is based on the...

 in the Royal Navy is considerably more senior (equivalent to the Army/RM rank of Colonel) and the two ranks should not be confused.

A rank of 2nd Captain existed in the Ordnance at the time of the Battle of Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

.

From 1 April 1918 to 31 July 1919, the Royal Air Force maintained the junior officer rank of captain. It was superseded by the rank of flight lieutenant on the following day.

Rank insignia


Badges of rank for captains were introduced in 30 January 1855 and were worn on shoulder epaulets. After the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

 a new rank system was introduced which contained the first complete rank insignia in British Army history. A captain's rank insignia was worn on the collar and displayed a crown and a pip (which is now the rank insignia for a lieutenant-colonel).

The rank insignia were returned to the shoulder boards in 1880 for all officers in full dress
Full dress
Full dress is a category dress codes that refers to most formal clothing available in Western society.-Civilian:For a civilian, during the Victorian and Edwardian period, this corresponded to a frock coat in the day, and white tie at night...

, when the system of crowns and stars was reorganised. From this time, until 1902, a captain had just two stars. The 1902 change gave captains three stars, which continues to be used. In addition to the shoulder badges, officers' ranks were also reflected in the amount and pattern of gold lace worn on the cuffs of the full-dress tunic.

From 1902, a complex system of markings with bars and loops in thin drab braid above the cuff (known irreverently as the asparagus bed) was used at first but this was replaced in the same year by a combination of narrow rings of worsted braid around the cuff, with the full-dress style shoulder badges on a three-pointed cuff flap. Based on equivalent naval ranks, captains had two rings of braid. In the case of Scottish regiments, the rings were around the top of the gauntlet-style cuff and the badges on the cuff itself.
During World War I, some officers took to wearing similar jackets to the men, with the rank badges on the shoulder, as the cuff badges made them conspicuous to snipers. This practice was frowned on outside the trenches but was given official sanction in 1917 as an alternative, being made permanent in 1920 when the cuff badges were abolished.