British Armed Forces (British Army and British Navy)
Standard of Oliver Cromwell (1653–1659)
Armed Forces Standard
Active 1645 as New Modeled Army, British Army and British Navy since 1664
Country Flag of the Commonwealth (1658-1660) Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland
Allegiance local county militias (shire militias in Scotland)
Branch British Army
British Navy
Type Land and sea armed forces
Role Territorial defense
Colors Red (Army) and Red and White (Navy)
Anniversaries Defeat of the Spanish Armada (8 August 1588) and Battle of Naseby (14 June 1645)
Commander-in-Chief Lord Protector
Military co-ordination Council of State's Army Council and Admiralty Committee
Army and Navy commands Commander-in-Chief of the Forces and Army Council / Board of Admiralty
Standard British Army Standard Commonwealth British Army (1660s)
British Navy White Ensign British-White-Ensign-1707

that we were not a mere mercenary army, hired to serve any arbitrary power of a state, but called forth and conjured by the several declarations of parliament to the defence of our own and the people’s just rights and liberties (From The Representation of the Army, 1647)

The armed forces of the Commonwealth are the British Army and Navy (Commonwealth Army and Navy until the early 1664), being the former the regularly trained standing army and the latter the permanent and standing naval warfare force and maritime service of the Commonwealth. Both services integrate the armed forces and ships and have joint commands in England, Scotland and Ireland.

The British Marines are the amphibious light infantry and a branch of the British Navy.

The local county militias (shire militias in Scotland) also come under its administration of the British Army by having a common training and command regulations and rules. The militias also provide the main recruitment system of the Army. The militias are the main land force of the overseas territories of the Commonwealth. Although a volunteer force and unable to serve overseas conscription to the British Army is financially rewarded. The Regimental Corps are the American equivalent of the militias but with a five year conscription.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Forces is the Lord Protector, to whom members of the forces swear an oath of allegiance. The Army and Navy are managed by a series of committees of Council of State being the main ones the Army Council and Admiralty Committee. The Commonwealth Parliament yearly establishes its number and personal within the limits of the Constitutional framework or increases it in case of war.

Line of command and administration since 1664.

  • Lord Protector: Commander-in-Chief of the Forces

Beginnings British Army

The "new modelling" of Parliament's army was first proposed by Sir William Waller in 1644. Parliament's armies were recruited from regional associations but soldiers were often reluctant to campaign away from their local areas, as Waller found to his cost when trying to control his mutinous London regiments. Waller proposed the formation of a national army with no regional affiliations and the idea was taken up by Oliver Cromwell in a speech to the House of Commons in December 1644. The Self-denying Ordinance was hurried through the Commons to sweep away the existing military high command and the New Model Army Ordinance was passed on 19 February 1645.

The British Army came into being with the unification of England, Scotland and Ireland in the Commonwealth in 1664. The Army has traditionally relied on volunteer recruits. The Army is organized in Foot, Horse, Dragoon and Artillery regiments. The local county militias (shire militias in Scotland) are trained by British Army and come under its command in state emergencies.

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British Army drill (foot)


Standard uniforms of the British Army during the European Revolutionary Wars

The Army Council is the military high command and in charge of the army in field in times of war along the Protector. The Army Council as part of the State Council besides its military members it also has civil commissioners.

There are other bodies that provide support to the army. These are the Board of Ordnance and Commissariat. The former acts as custodian of the lands, depots and forts required for the defence of the realm and its overseas possessions, and as the supplier of munitions and equipment to both the Army and the Navy. The Commissariat is in charge of the provision of supplies, both food and forage, for the troops.

British Navy

The development of the British Navy really took off under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell, after the end of the civil wars in 1649. At this time the British Isles began to rely on its navy as the source of their wealth and defense. Between 1646 and 1659 the navy grew by an outstanding 217 vessels: 111 captured and 106 were built.

The command of the British Navy is through the Admiralty Committee. The commission, building and maintenance of ships, supplies and maintenance of navy ports are carried out by the Navy Commission.

British Marines

The British Marines, originally Marine Forces, are the amphibious light infantry and a branch of the British Navy. The Marines were created duringn the War of the Spanish Succession and excelling in the landing of Reykjavik on the Battle of Iceland and the campaign of the Danish Straits. These actions were notable in being the first ones to use steam powered landing vessels.

Ranks of the British Army and Navy

Officer ranks of the British Army and Navy

British Army British Navy Marine Forces / British Marines Militias
OF-10 Field Marshall Admiral of the Fleet Deputy Adjutant-General
OF-9 General (old: Captain-general) Admiral / General at sea General Adjutant General
OF-8 Lieutenant-General Vice admiral Lieutenant-General Lieutenant-General
OF-7 Major-General (old Sergeant-major-general) Rear admiral Major-General Major-General
OF-6 Brigadier Commodore Brigadier Brigadier
OF-5 Colonel Captain Colonel Colonel
OF-4 Lieutenant colonel Commander Lieutenant colonel Lieutenant colonel
OF-3 Major Lieutenant Commander Major Major
OF-2 Captain Lieutenant Captain Captain
OF-1 Lieutenant / Second-lieutenant or Ensign

(Cavalry equivalent: Cornet) / Captain-lieutenant: (Lieutenant of the First Company)

Sub-lieutenant /  Midshipman Lieutenant / Second-lieutenant Lieutenant

Other ranks of the British Army and Navy

British Army British Navy Marine Forces / British Marines Militia
OR-9 Warrant Officer Class 1 Warrant Officer Class 1 Warrant Officer Class 1 Warrant Officer Class 1
OR-8 Warrant Officer Class 2 Warrant Officer Class 2 Warrant Officer Class 2
OR-7 Staff/Colour Sergeant Chief Petty Officer Colour Sergeant Staff Sergeant
OR-6 Sergeant Petty Officer Sergeant Sergeant
OR-4 Corporal Leading Rate Corporal Corporal
OR-3 Lance Corporal Lance Corporal
OF-2 Private Able Seaman Marine Private

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