Alessandra Westgate’s Subaltern Rank Job In Masters Of The Air Explained

By Megan Hemenway Published 2 days ago

During a week at Oxford, Major Harry Crosby meets Sandra Westgate a subaltern with the British army whose rank he can’t manage to pronounce correctly.

Alessandra Westgate's Subaltern Rank & Job In Masters Of The Air Explained

This article contains spoilers for Masters of the Air episode 6.



  • Major Harry Crosby's struggle to pronounce "subaltern" leads to a comical moment in episode 6 of Masters of the Air.
  • Subaltern is a junior officer in the British military, similar to a First Lieutenant in the US Army.
  • Subaltern Westgate in the show is inspired by the real women who served in the British ATS during World War II.

In the sixth episode of Masters of the Air, Major Harry Crosby goes to Oxford for a week of lectures and is roomed with Sandra Westgate, a member of the British military whose rank, subaltern, he struggles to pronounce and understand. Though Sandra never discloses her actual job to Crosby, she becomes a confidante as he mourns the loss of his best friend, Captain Joseph 'Bubbles' Payne. Crosby enjoys his few days away from Thorpe Abbotts, alongside the charismatic Westgate, before returning to continue his work as the 100th's new Group Navigator.

A small but comical part of Major Harry Crosby's storyline in Masters of the Air episode 6 is his inability to say the word "subaltern." When the man introducing him to Oxford brings up Crosby's roommate as Subaltern Westgate, Crosby repeats the word several times but continues to flub it, causing an awkward but funny moment between the men. Later, when Crosby finally meets Sandra, he learns to pronounce the word correctly. However, very little light is actually shed by Masters of the Air on what a subaltern is and what they did during World War II.

A Subaltern Is A Junior Officer In The British Military


The word subaltern has two meanings.

In terms of Masters of the Air and the British army, a subaltern is a form of rank that is below the rank of captain.

In the United States Army, this would translate to something like a First Lieutenant or a Second Lieutenant. More generally, a subaltern is simply a junior officer. The rank of subaltern or second subaltern was often given to women serving in the British Auxilary Territorial Service. It wasn't until the 1950s that the women's branch of the British army adopted regular military ranks.

Overall, a subaltern could have any number of jobs within the British army. In this way, exploring Sandra's rank doesn't really shed any light on what her mysterious job might have been. However, considering how quickly she had to leave Oxford at the end of episode 6, it is likely that her job is fairly important, and she plays a significant role in it. It isn't likely that Masters of the Air will return to Sandra in its final three episodes, so it is unlikely that any more answers about her position will be given.

Subaltern is also a noun used to describe something of a lower status.

Is Masters Of The Air's Subaltern Westgate Based On A Real Person?

Subaltern Sandra Westgate was not a real person however, she is inspired by the real women who served in the British Auxilary Territorial Service. The ATS, formerly known as the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps, was a branch of the British army made up entirely of women. Though women in the ATS did not perform the same dangerous jobs as the men in the British army, they took on pivotal roles in transportation, communication, and research. Sandra Westgate in Masters of the Air is an example of the intelligent and interesting women who served in England in World War II.

Cast Austin Butler , Callum Turner , Barry Keoghan , Nikolai Kinski , Stephen Campbell Moore , Sawyer Spielberg , Isabel May , Anthony Boyle Release Date January 26, 2024 Where To Watch Apple TV+ See at Apple TV

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