Conductors of Stores and Supplies
The appointments of Conductor has a long and very interesting historical background in the British Army. Perhaps the earliest recorded mention of Conductors is that in a Statute of Westminster of 1327 whereby Edward III enacted that wages of Conductors (Conveyors) of soldiers from the Shires to the place of Assembly would no longer be a charge upon the Shire. As long ago as the Siege of Boulogne in 1544 there were Conductors of Ordnance. There were also Conductors in the train of artillery assembled in 1618. At the capture of Newfoundland in 1762, Lieutenant-General Amhersts force included a Conductor and a Clerk of Stores. These officials were from the Board of Ordnance depots at New York and Halifax respectively.
Thomas Simes, in his book The Military Guide for Young Officers, dated 1776, writes: Conductors as assistants to the Commissary of the Stores, to receive or deliver out stores to the Army, to attend at the magazines by turns when in garrison and to look after the ammunition wagons in the field; they bring their accounts every night to the Commissary and are immediately under his command.
By Royal Warrant of 11 January, 1879, a Military Class of Warrant Officer was constituted, to assist in the discharge of the subordinate duties of the Commissariat and Transport and of the Ordnance Store Departments of our Army, to be denominated Conductors of Supplies and Conductors of Stores respectively. Their position in our Army shall be inferior to that of all commissioned officers and superior to that of all non-commissioned officers. Conductors shall at the same time have full power to exercise command over any subordinates of the Departments of our Army, or non-commissioned officers or soldiers of our Army, who may be placed under their orders.
In March, May and June, 1879, thirty-five Conductors of Stores were appointed, sixteen from the Royal Artillery and two from the Royal Engineers, while the remaining seventeen were already serving with the Ordnance Store Branch (OSB) of the Army Service Corps (ASC) which became the Ordnance Store Corps (OSC) in September 1881.
The title Conductor of Supplies was abolished in 1892 and that of Staff Sergeant Major 1st Class ASC substituted, While this short history concentrates on the Appointment of Conductor, that of Staff Sergeant Major 1st Class ASC follows a very close parallel path until 1965
In 1896 the Ordnance Stores Department (OSD) and Ordnance Store Corps (OSC) were changed to the Army Ordnance Department (AOD) and Army Ordnance Corps (AOC), at the same time the title of Staff Sergeant Major OSC was also changed to that of Sub-Conductor AOC.
In November 1918 the AOD & AOC amalgamated into the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) The title Royal being bestowed by his Majesty King George V in recognition of work carried out in the Great War.
1965 saw the supply functions of the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) transferring to the RAOC under the Macleod reorganisation, with the remaining transport functions being re-titled the Royal Corps of Transport (RCT) The appointments of Staff Sergeant Major 1st Class and Staff Sergeant Major being fully transferred to the RAOC.
Thus there were at this time five grades of Warrant Officer Class 1 within the RAOC that of :
Conductor RAOC Staff Sergeant Major 1st Class (ex RASC) Sub-Conductor RAOC Staff Sergeant Major (SSM) (ex RASC) and Regimental Sergeant Majors (RSM) from both Corps.
In 1967 this was rationalised to just three, that of : WO1 (Conductor) RAOC WO1 (SSM) RAOC and WO1 (RSM) RAOC