US Army Enlisted Grade Consolidation, 1920

US Army Enlisted Grade Consolidation of 1920

The expansion of the army during the First World War led to a proliferation of enlisted grades, some from the formation of new branches and some from the adoption of new technologies. Some steps were taken to simplify the grades and insignia in 1918 and 1919, but it became obvious that a comlete overhaul was in order. In June of 1920, the Army Reorganization Act consolidated all enlisted ranks into seven pay grades. Army General Order 36 of June 19, 19201 specified a single title for each grade, except for the second pay grade, which was shared by first sergeants and techincal sergeants. War Department Circular No. 303 of August 5, 19202 announced the new insignia to reflect the reorganization. Unlike the shades of olive drab that had been used before, the new chevrons would be set on a contrasting dark blue background.This system of grades and insignia was still used by the army when the US entered World War II.

The "old" insignia in the following table are representative, but there were many variations in the shade and material of different components. In 1920 colored wreaths and devices began to be used on some insignia, but because they were in the early stages of issue when the new-pattern chevrons were authorized, they are not shown in the table.

Before 1920

After August 1920

Insignia and Title Insignia and Title Pay Grade

grade insignia grade insignia grade insignia grade insignia grade insignia
Regimental Sergeant Major,
Sergeant Major Senior Grade
Quartermaster Sergeant, Senior Grade Quartermaster Sergeant, Senior Grade, Motor Transport Corps Master Hospital Sergeant Master Engineer, Senior Grade

grade insignia grade insignia grade insignia grade insignia grade insignia
Master Engineer Senior Grade, Transportation Corps Master Electrician Master Signal Electrician Master Signal Electrician, Air Service Engineer, Coast Artillery Corps

grade insignia grade insignia grade insignia grade insignia
Regimental Supply Sergeant Ordnance Sergeant (25% of authorized number) Master Gunner, Coast Artillery Corps (50% of authorized number) Band Leader

grade insignia

Master Sergeant

1st Grade

grade insignia

First Sergeant

grade insignia

First Sergeant

2nd Grade

grade insignia grade insignia grade insignia
Hospital Sergeant Master Engineer Junior Grade Ordnance Sergeant (75% of authorized number)

grade insignia grade insignia grade insignia
Electrician Sergeant First Class Assistant Engineer, Coast Artillery Corps Quartermaster Sergeant

grade insignia

Technical Sergeant

grade insignia grade insignia grade insignia grade insignia grade insignia
Battalion/Squadron Sergeant Major, Sergeant Major Junior Grade Battalion/Squadron Supply Sergeant Sergeant First Class Master Gunner, Coast Artillery Corps (50% of authorized number), Master Gunner, Artillery School Detachment USMA Assistant Band Leader

grade insignia grade insignia grade insignia grade insignia
Sergeant Bugler, Sergeant Field Musician, USMA Electrician Sergeant Second Class Radio Sergeant Color Sergeant

grade insignia

Staff Sergeant

3rd Grade

grade insignia grade insignia grade insignia
Band Sergeant Stable Sergeant Mess Sergeant

grade insignia grade insignia grade insignia
Company/Battery/Troop Supply Sergeant Motor Sergeant Sergeant

grade insignia

Sergeant

4th Grade

grade insignia grade insignia grade insignia
Band Corporal Corporal Bugler Corporal

grade insignia

Corporal

5th Grade

grade insignia

Private First Class

grade insignia

Private First Class

6th Grade

(no insignia)

Private

(no insignia)

Private

7th Grade


Notes:

All text and images © Justin T. Broderick, 2013 unless otherwise indicated.