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SOLDIER AND SAILOR SLANG
A (or ACK): The letter A in Signallers' vernacular a word coined for clearness of expression and to prevent misunderstanding. Men's lives, even the fate of a battle, may depend on a signaller's message, on a signaller's pronunciation of a single word, even of a single letter. In the War, the words ordinarily used by the Signal Staff as substitutes for letters of the Alphabet in transmitting messages, particularly by telephone, were as follows:
Ack, Ack, Ack (Ak, Ak, Ak) signified the close of a sentence or message. A.M. (Before Noon) was transmitted as "Ack Emma": P.M. (After Noon), as Pip Emma. How a message may be distorted in oral transmission through a number of men, the following Signal Service story of pre-War days, said to be true, exemplifies. The first man in an extended chain of signallers under instruction was given the message to pass along the line, "Going to advance-send reinforcements." It was delivered by the last man at the far end as, Going to a dance-lend me three and fourpence !" A.D.C. The usual abbreviation for Aide-de-camp, or, according to Punch, "An Di Cap to a General."
A.D. CORPS: Army Dental Corps.
A.E.C.: Army Educational Corps.
A.E.F. The initials of the American Expeditionary Force, unkindly said in certain quarters to stand for "After England Failed," i.e., Why America had to come in!
A.O. Army Order.
Army Ordnance Corps, made "Royal" in 1918 for "splendid work in the War".
A.P. and S.S.: Army Printing and Stationery Services. The department concerned with printing, photography,
A.P.C.: Army Pay Corps; made "Royal" in 1920 for "excellent work performed in the War".
A.P.M. The initials stand officially for Assistant Provost Marshal. Unofficially sometimes rendered "A Permanent Malingerer
A.S.C. Initials for Army Service Corps. Also for "Ally Sloper's Cavalry." (See Nicknames of Regiments.) The Army Service Corps was made "Royal" in 1918 for "splendid service performed in the War".
A.V.C. The initials of the title of the Army Veterinary Corps otherwise occasionally in jest," All very cushy The Army Veterinary Corps was made "Royal" in 1918 for "splendid service performed in the War”. ABDOMINAL CRASH: An Air Force term for an aeroplane smash. A bad fall (see Gutzer).
ABDUL: The usual term on Eastern Fronts in the war for a Turkish soldier.
ABOUT TURN: Army vernacular for Hébuterne, a village on the Western Front.
ACE, AN: (French " As "). Originally applied as a slang term in the French Service to a smart cavalry man (an Ace being, of course, the best card in a suit), it was extended in the war as a familiar term for an airman whose name was cited in an "Ordre du Jour" as having brought down at least five enemy aeroplanes. Passing into English Air Force vernacular, it acquired the rather derogatory meaning of a showy airman, one with a tendency to "play to the gallery ".
ACE, GUARDING THE: A Navy expression: the protection of a battleship under way in the open sea by a cordon of destroyers, the battleship being the ace or principal card.
ACID, COMING THE: Stretching the truth: making trying to pass on a duty: exagger
ating one's authority.
AK DUM: (Hind. Ek Dam). At once instantly. (Old Army). In the war on the Western Front the German notice or warning boards bearing the word " Achtung" (Beware), come upon in captured positions, were often called Ak Dums" by our men.
ACTING RABBIT PIE: A pie made of fresh beef and bacon. (Navy).
ADAM AND EVE: Believe. E.g., "Could you Adam and Eve it ". (rhyming slang).
ADAM AND EVE ON A RAFT: Eggs on Toast. ADAM AND EVE WRECKED: Scrambled Eggs. ADDRESSED TO: Aimed at. A shell, for instance, was often said to be "addressed to some special target. "ADMIRALTY TO ALL SHIPS. COMMENCE HOSTILITIES AT ONCE WITH GERMANY": message broadcasted by wireless to all British fleets and warships at II p,m, on August 4th, 1914, immediately war was declared. Following on that the King's Message to the Fleet (see King) was wirelessed round, and then the official notification that Sir John Jellicoe had been appointed Commander-in-Chief in British waters. ADMIRALTY HAM: Tinned Corned, or "Bully", Beef.
ADRIFT: Absent without leave (Navy).
AFTERS: The second course, when there was one, of the mid-day meal. E.g., "Any afters to-day?"-" Is there any pudding to come?"
AGAMEMNONS, THE OLD: See Nicknames of Regiments.
AGGIE: Formerly a familiar name among bluejackets for the late Dame Agnes Weston, the foundress of the Seamans' Temperance Hostels at the naval ports. Also the familiar nickname of H.M.S. Agamemnon.
AGONY, AN: A term among the rank and file for some young newly-joined officer, confused, or showing nervousness in shouting out words of command.
AH WEE: (French "Ah oui "). Oh! Yes. A colloquial expression in the lingua franca of the Western Front, and a convenient stop gap in a possibly inadequate vocabulary in conversation.
AIGLERS, THE: See Nicknames of Regiments.
AIR FLAPPER, AN: A Signaller. (From the flagwagging motions in transmitting messages).
AIR PILLS: Bombs dropped by aeroplane.
AIR TORPEDO: A universal name in the War for a type of elongated trench mortar bomb, fitted with balancing planes or "fins," which gave the projectile something of the appearance of a torpedo. (Torpedoes contain, and are actuated by, self-propelling mechanism). The naval service torpedo dropped by aeroplanes. Its course and depth for running below the surface are set before being dropped. Employed by the present “Dart” type of sea-plane, R.N. (q.v.) "Torpedo", as a word, was the name originally given to a species of fish which defends itself by giving an aggressor an electric shock. (From torpere, to benumb.)
AK: See "A".
'ALF A MO, AN: Australian slang for an incipient or "tooth brush" moustache of the Charlie Chaplin pattern. "'ALF A MO, KAISER!": One of the most popular recruiting posters of the early part of the War bore these words, with the picture of a "Tommy lighting a cigarette prior to unslinging his rifle and going into action. The catch phrase was widely adopted in England. "ALICE": The nickname given to a certain imitation tree on the Western Front, cased with iron and set up as an observation post in the Fauquissart sector. was designed by a Royal Academician and constructed at a considerable cost, only however to prove a failure from being badly placed.
ALL ARMS AND LEGS: Government ale, as having no "body". Also, weak tea.
ALL CALLIO: Happy. Content. (Navy).
ALL CANDO: All right (Navy).
ALL CUT: Upset. Confused: excited. A man struggling to put his equipment together within a few minutes of an inspection, would describe himself “All cut."
ALL HIGHEST: (German-" Aller
phrase quoted in the Press in the earlier months of the War from addresses and official reports to the Kaiser, which many people in England condemned as deliberately" blasphemous". The expression is really a very old Prussian form of address to the Sovereign, in particular in his capacity as Head of the Army-the Supreme War Lord ".
ALL KIFF: All right. All correct.
ALL OF A DOODAH: An expression used of an aeroplane pilot getting nervous in mid air (Air Force). ordinary slang.
ALL OUT: Eager.
Straining every effort. Exhausted after extra exertion. E.g., All out to beat them": "Going all out ".
ALL OVER ONESELF: Extremely pleased. Over confident; e.g., "He's all over himself because he's got leave ". "He used to be all right, but now he's promoted he's all over himself ".
ALL SPRUCED UP: Said of a man smartened up unusually to meet someone, or "walk out ". walk out". Originally from the words of a music hall song. Variants were "All poshed up " or "Togged up ".
“ALL VERY CUSHY": See Nicknames of Regiments. ALLEY (or ALLY): (French - Allez).
ALLEY AT THE TOOT: (French-" Allez tout de suite).”
Get off quickly.
ALLEYED: Gone away.