WWII slang from the front


#1

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#2

Top-hole! Bally Jerry, pranged his kite right in the how’s-your-father; hairy blighter, dicky-birded, feathered back on his sammy, took a waspy, flipped over on his Betty Harpers and caught his can in the Bertie.


#3

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#4

Aren’t these a tad tame? Collateral Damage is so much more offensive.


#5

That makes a great point about the difference between organically-generated slang and official euphemism double-speak.


#6

The baby poop=mustard one had me LOLing being in the trenches myself these days (the baby ones, not the war ones) i might now start calling a poopy diaper a mustard bomb. Baby farts = mustard gas? I’m also impressed that GIs (heh…G.I…) in the 40s were familiar enough with baby poop for that to be a reference…especially considering “mr. Mom” was apparently a hilarious prrmise in 1983…


#7

Yes, British slang was very different. A lot of RAF slang was basically euphemistic: Prang, Gone for a Burton.
For some reason on Royal Navy ships the captain was known as “The Owner” and the first officer was called “the Bloke”. The Navy itself was called the Andrew, and the volunteer reserve the Wavy Navy (because officers had wavy uniform stripes unlike the straight ones of regulars.) Germans were Jerry. Generally Navy slang was fairly low key, possibly because on a fighting ship you need to keep things efficient but calm. Or so my father’s generation tells me. One of the most well known examples of this attitude was a submarine which, after a successful attack, was depth-charged by the remaining Germans, In his report the captain mentioned that the crew had been very annoyed because the crew member delegated to count the depth charges had lost count, and so nobody had won the sweepstake to guess the number.


#8

That’s more “jargon” than “slang.”


#9

Still tame.


#10

Taken at face value this means “Annoying German crashed his plane right in the sexual intercourse.”
Normally one would try to ditch (prang one’s kite in the drink) after making one’s escape via parachute, then wait to be picked up by the Navy. One of my father’s friends who died just recently was a navigator on Lancasters, and he dropped the lingo the moment the War was over because he wanted to forget. The people who went around in blue blazers ostentatiously using RAF-isms? Well, a company I worked for was infested with one of them. There was a project which involved a couple of RAF officers, and after this guy had held forth at lunch one of the other directors enquired of them “Do you think he really did fly Spitfires?” To which the reply came back “Well, I think he might have seen one at some point”. Most of them spent the war flying a desk, which is why they were around afterwards.
Unfortunately in war the prize for being good at flying (or any other front line activity) is endless opportunities to get yourself killed unpleasantly. In the Army it’s easy - the effective soldiers are surrounded by more or less useless cannon fodder to increase their chance of survival - but in the air, it’s just you.


#11

This is a fine turn of phrase.


#12

There were a few about who were the real deal. I was member of a flying club which had a regular Wednesday afternoon ‘Spitfire Squadron’ of ex-RAF fighter and bomber pilots who still flew and instructed for pleasure. They used to potter around looking old and doddery … But get them in a cockpit and damn could they fly! :grinning: No WWII slang heard though.


#13

I doubrt they were members of the blue blazer squad though. Our head at school was an ex-Lancaster pilot. The guy who taught us metalwork in the 6th form had been a Mosquito pilot.The only time he mentioned the war was when the atom bomb came up in General Studies and he described what conventional bombing did to Dresden.


#14

The ‘Spitfire Squadron’ was just the nickname the club gave them. They were a mix of pilots of various different WWII vintage aircraft according to the younger instructors. They never spoke of it themselves.


#15

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