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Major general (United Kingdom)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Major general
British Army and Royal Marines insignia.
Country United Kingdom
Service branch British Army
 Royal Marines
AbbreviationMaj Gen
RankTwo-star rank
NATO rank codeOF-7
Next higher rankLieutenant general
Next lower rankBrigadier
Equivalent ranksRear admiral (Royal Navy)
Air vice-marshal (Royal Air Force)

Major general (Maj Gen) is a "two-star" rank in the British Army[1] and Royal Marines. The rank was also briefly used by the Royal Air Force for a year and a half, from its creation in April 1918 until August 1919. In the British Army, a major general is the customary rank for the appointment of division commander. In the Royal Marines, the Commandant General holds at least the rank of major general.

A major general is senior to a brigadier but subordinate to a lieutenant general. The rank is OF-7 on the NATO rank scale, equivalent to a rear admiral in the Royal Navy or an air vice-marshal in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many Commonwealth countries.

Insignia and nomenclature


The rank insignia is the star (or 'pip') of the Order of the Bath, over a crossed sword and baton.

In terms of orthography, compound ranks were invariably hyphenated prior to about 1980. Nowadays the rank is almost equally invariably non-hyphenated.[a] When written as a title, especially before a person's name, both words of the rank are always capitalised, whether using the "traditional" hyphenated style of, say, the two World Wars, or the modern un-hyphenated style. When used as common nouns, they might be written in lower-case: "Major General Montgomery was one of several major generals to be promoted at this time."

British Army usage


In the British Army, a division is commanded by a major general. However, other appointments may also be held by major generals. For example, the Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst is a major general.

Until around the 1980s, the heads of each branch of service, such as the Royal Armoured Corps, the Royal Artillery and the Corps of Infantry, were major generals. Other, administrative, commands were also appointments for a major general. In addition, the senior officer of the Royal Army Chaplains' Department, the Chaplain-General, is accorded 'the relative precedence' — the respect, courtesies and insignia, rather than the full powers and authority — of the rank of major general.

Royal Marines usage


The office of Commandant General Royal Marines (CGRM), the professional head of the Royal Marines, was created at the rank of full general in 1943. In 1977, the rank was downgraded to lieutenant general, and it was further reduced to of major general in 1996.[2] On 30 April 2021, Lieutenant General Robert Magowan assumed the office of CGRM;[3] he was succeeded on 25 November 2022 by Gwyn Jenkins, who already held the rank of full general from his appointment as Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff.[4][5][6]

Royal Marines in tri-service roles may still hold the rank of major general: in April 2019, James Morris was appointed as commander of the Standing Joint Force, with the rank of major general.[7]

As in the British Army, a Royal Marines major general ranks below a lieutenant general and above a brigadier.

Royal Air Force usage


From its foundation on 1 April 1918 to 31 July 1919, the Royal Air Force briefly used the rank of major-general. The service was a wartime amalgamation of the Army's Royal Flying Corps and the Navy's Royal Naval Air Service, so the ranks were a compromise between these two traditions. The insignia of the rank was derived from that of a Royal Navy rear-admiral and featured a broad gold stripe on the cuff below one narrow gold stripe. The two stripes were surmounted by an eagle (volant and affronty) under a King's crown. The RAF replaced the rank of major-general with the rank of air vice-marshal on 1 August 1919.

Despite the short duration, the significance of the RAF to modern warfare was indicated by the number of senior officers who did hold the rank of major-general in the RAF:

See also



  1. ^ e.g. in London Gazette, compare the entries in these two editions from 1979: firstly: "No. 47869". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 June 1979. p. 2. and then:"No. 48015". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 November 1979. p. 14929.


  1. ^ British Army Website Archived 2009-12-14 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Senior Royal Navy appointments" (PDF). Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  3. ^ "New Head Royal Marines Takes Role". forces.net. 30 April 2021. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  4. ^ "Major General Gwyn Jenkins appointed new Vice Chief of the Defence Staff". Ministry of Defence. 27 July 2022. Retrieved 27 July 2022.
  5. ^ "Royal Marines appoint new Commandant General". forces.net. 25 November 2022. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  6. ^ "No. 63889". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 November 2022. p. 22839.
  7. ^ "No. 62610". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 April 2019. p. 6430.
  8. ^ "E B Ashmore_P".
  9. ^ "G C Cayley_P". www.rafweb.org. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  10. ^ "F Gordon_P". www.rafweb.org. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  11. ^ "F C Heath-Caldwell_P". www.rafweb.org. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  12. ^ "E D Swinton_P". www.rafweb.org. Archived from the original on 1 July 2017. Retrieved 16 March 2018.