Sergeant was an appointment in the Canadian Army up until
A soldier with the rank of corporal could be appointed
lance-sergeant. He received the pay of a corporal, but wore the rank
insignia of a sergeant and was permitted to belong to the Warrant
Officers' and Sergeants' Mess. The appointment could also be removed
by the Commanding Officer at any time without administrative action,
which was not the case for a substantive sergeant.
In the period between the end of the Second World War and
Unification, the Canadian Army allowed 6 percent of corporals to be
appointed as lance sergeants. The intent was to allow commanding
officers to test certain corporals for possible promotion by giving
them responsibilities at the Senior NCO level. As substantive
promotions were centrally controlled by Army HQ, employment as a
lance sergeant was seen to be beneficial to career NCOs.
It was not uncommon in this period for NCOs to hold the appointment,
and have to revert to corporal upon posting to another unit.
After Unification, the appointments of Lance Sergeant and Lance
Corporal were terminated; the former Navy and Air Force personnel
did not have such appointments in their unique rank structure and
apparently were unhappy at the idea of relinquishing appointments at
the discretion of a CO.
Rank insignia for lance sergeants was a standard 3-bar chevron. In
the Royal Canadian Artillery, substantive sergeants were permitted
to wear a gun badge over the chevron; lance sergeants were not
permitted to do so.
In Anti-Tank Platoons of Second World War Infantry Battalions, three
of the gun crews would be commanded by sergeants, the other three by
The rank was abbreviated as L/Sgt or sometimes as LSgt. The
alternate spelling of "Serjeant" was also used throughout the first
half of the 20th Century, fading into disuse after 1945.
Thanks to Doug Townend and Mike Murfin for additional information
provided via the site forum.