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RAF Slang

RAF Slang
Author: JJ's Girl (Guest)
Time Stamp:
19:53:52 11 May 2007
Hi Everyone...

This question is more on the 'lighter' side of things...(dont laugh!)

Is there anyone here that knows about or recalls 1940's RAF slang?

In particular, what would an Airman call a gal he liked?.Has anyone heard of the term "Hey Dazzling"? Would that be a common term back in the 1940's?

Any insight into the culture of RAF airmen and their "language" would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much

JJ's Girl

RE: RAF Slang
Author: aestorm
Time Stamp:
21:58:42 11 May 2007
Australian & NZ airmen might I call a girl bonzer , bonza or swell.

Cigarettes were smokes & fellow airmen were the boys or chaps.

No doubt there were many more descriptive words for pretty girls.


RE: RAF Slang
Author: BillWalker
Time Stamp:
07:02:19 12 May 2007
There was a book published in Canada about 10 years ago called "Words on the Wing". This contained RCAF slang terms, and for World War 2 these would have been mostly indentical to the RAF. It is a very entertaining book.

I'm on the road this week, but will give you publisher info when I'm home next week.

Bill Walker

Canadian Military Aircraft Serial Numbers

RE: RAF Slang
Author: Dick
Time Stamp:
13:35:11 12 May 2007

When the famous 617 Sqn was assembled for the Dams raid one of the crews was that of a Canadian F/Lt Mick Martin. He was allocated or chose a Lancaster with the individual Sqn letter P. This was universally called P for Popsy by him and the Sqn instead of the usual phonetic of Peter.Popsy was yet another Service slang term for a girl.If you are not careful you could be pinned to this board for some time!!

All The Best


RE: RAF Slang
Author: Resmoroh
Time Stamp:
13:46:40 12 May 2007
JJ, Hi!

Popsies normally only occurred in the patois of the Officer's Mess. A bit lower down the scale they were known as "bints". In the Arab world 'bin' is 'son of'. 'Binti' is 'daughter of'.

I was fortunate to be in HQ 38 Grp when Mickey Martin was AOC. Quite a character!

Yrs Aye

Peter Davies

RE: RAF Slang
Author: JJ's Girl (Guest)
Time Stamp:
15:53:34 12 May 2007
Hey everyone...

Thanks for responding to this light hearted question of mine, which REALLY does help preserve the memories! Must get that book that was mentioned in the previous post.Thank you.

Dick, what on earth do you mean that if I'm not too careful I could be pinned to this board?

Also people, anyone here that was alive back in the 40's? Ever heard the term "DAZZLING" being used on a gal? Would someone actually say 'hey Dazzling?"

Thanks again!

Love, JJ's Girl

RE: RAF Slang
Author: EddieFell
Time Stamp:
16:24:48 12 May 2007
I've not heard of dazzling, but Hey Darling was quite common I believe


RE: RAF Slang
Author: Resmoroh
Time Stamp:
16:37:11 12 May 2007

The only term, from that era that I can remember, is that one's girl friend - if extra-special - could be referred to as a "Bobby Dazzler". Who 'Bobby' was, and how his Lady was a 'Dazzler', remains losts in the mists of time. However, this is modern linguistic archaeology! And more power to your arm in uncovering it!

I don't think you are likely to 'be pinned to the board' in the Mess (as were, reputedly, some of the addresses and/or telephone numbers of the more amenable young ladies around the Bomber/Fighter Bases). But we are straying, here, into areas where Boss Ross may consider we are over-stepping the bounds of decorum on this Forum! However, it might be a fruitful avenue of research! I look forward to your results.


Peter Davies

RE: RAF Slang
Author: Dick
Time Stamp:
17:22:56 12 May 2007
Hi Again

"What on earth do you mean that if I'm not too careful I could be pinned to this board?"

I only meant that you have started something that could run and run once the nostalgia of us elderly chaps is roused,Nothing personal.

All the Best


RE: RAF Slang
Author: aestorm
Time Stamp:
08:54:45 13 May 2007
[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 13-May-07 AT 09:01 AM (GMT)[/font][p][font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 13-May-07 AT 09:01%A0AM (GMT)[/font]

[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 13-May-07 AT 09:00%A0AM (GMT)[/font]


"BOBBY DAZZLER" in Chambers dictionary --

Noun. Brit. colloq or dialect

"Anything overwhelmingly excellent ,striking or showy ,especially a strikingly attractive woman "

I think I've heard a woman described as such in old

1940-50 films ?

My husband ,who goes back a long way, remembers the words being used when he was a boy in Northumberland & Yorkshire.Not when he was a 19 year old in the services in 1945.

Underneath Bobby Dazzler in my 21st Century Chambers dictionary is ---

"BOBBY -PIN " noun chiefly N Amer.A small flat wire clip for holding hair in place .Brit.equiv. Hairgrip.

I grew up in Australia & we always called it a Bobby Pin.

HairPIN was the flimsy, delicate grip that older ladies used .

Who WAS Bobby apart from Robert Peel of bobby or policeman fame ??


RE: RAF Slang
Author: aestorm
Time Stamp:
09:02:48 13 May 2007
I had trouble with the previous post so had to edit 3 times !


RE: RAF Slang
Author: DaveHomewood
Time Stamp:
10:40:13 13 May 2007
I have an ever-growing page on my website devoted to WWII RNZAF Slanguage. of course some of it crosses over with the WWII RAF

I have picked these bits and pieces up all over the place. Some of it is operational jargon but a fair bit is social slanguage too.

A few terms I have found i do not know the full meaning to. Any help would be appreciated.

It's amazing how much WWII Air Force slang later became part of common everyday language in this country and probably in the UK too.

RE: RAF Slang
Author: Resmoroh
Time Stamp:
15:04:08 13 May 2007
JJ's-Girl and All

The following is copied from the signature bar of a member of another Forum (I am happy to give thanks to him/her).

It was, I think, originally from a sketch in one of the "Two Ronnies" UK TV comedy series and depicted two "RAF Fighter Types" in a conversation in the Mess after a sortie.

"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 onto his Betty Harpers and caught his can in the Bertie!".

Now if anyone can decode, decypher, or generally disembrangle that lot then they should be awarded a PhD in WW2 RAF slang!


Peter Davies

RE: RAF Slang
Author: ianh (Guest)
Time Stamp:
16:32:51 13 May 2007

Wasn't that a "Monty Python" sketch. In which case it may probably be largely made-up for the overally type of effect.


RE: RAF Slang
Author: Resmoroh
Time Stamp:
16:50:59 13 May 2007

You're probably right! But most of us, in our various working lives, have (or have had) slang terms that are totally indecypherable to an outsider - thus I think JJ's Girl has a major undertaking on her hands!!

Peter Davies

RE: RAF Slang
Author: Kennill
Time Stamp:
09:31:15 14 May 2007
Code Names & RAF vocabulary

Editor: Frank Haslam, frank.haslam AT last updated: 3 Feb 2004

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Hosted by 207 Squadron Royal Air Force Association

ABC - Airborne Cigar - transmitter aboard aircraft which jammed German fighter control frequencies

AC Plonk - an Aircraftman

Abbeville Kids - a particularly aggressive bunch of Luftwaffe fighter units based at Abbeville

Adj - Adjutant, the administrative assistant to the Squadron CO

Admiral - officer i/c boats in the Air Sea Rescue Service

Acc (Trolley Acc) - Accumulator (battery) - for starting engines on ground

ace - pilot credited with bringing down five or more enemy aircraft, established in WWI

ack - earlier phonetic alphabet for 'A' e.g. morning time a.m. was ack emma

ack-ack - Anti Aircraft fire (these days, 'Triple A' - anti aircraft artillery)

aiming point - during a bombing run the aircraft had to fly level and steady for aiming purpose before bomb release and for a short period afterwards to enable the camera on board to take a series of pictures (at night a photo flash flare was dropped) to provide evidence of where the bombs had been aimed - getting a photo showing the planned aiming point was highly regarded

Air Commode - Air Commodore

Air House - The Air Ministry

aircrew - anyone who had a winged brevet, e.g. pilot, navigator, air gunner etc.

airmaids - crew of an Air Sea Rescue boat

airscrew - three or four propeller blades on a hub and with a spinner

Album Leaf - improved kind of Oboe

ammo - ball, Dewilde incendiary, tracer, armour piercing

anchor - one who waits too long to drop by parachute

angels - altitude in units of 1000 feet e.g. Angels 20 over Dover = 20,000 feet over Dover: see also grand

APHRODITE - Use of aged aircraft as radio-controlled bombers

apron - hangar tarmac

Are you happy in/at your work? - facetious/ironic comment to someone doing some heavy/disagreeable/unsuitable task

armourer - ground crew responsible for bombs, defensive ammunition, flares etc.

arrival - clumsy or otherwise defective landing

arse end charlie - the man who weaves backwards and forwards above and behind the fighter squadron to protect them from attack from the rear (not to be confused with tail-end Charlie)

artic - see Queen Mary

ASH - Narrow beam radar used for low-level operations

arsy-tarsy - Aircrew Reception Centre

Aspirin - jammer to counter the German Knickebein navigational aid

attaboy - member of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) many of whom were Americans

aviate - showing off when flying a plane

bag - collect/secure, possibly illegally

bag - parachute

bags of - a lot of as in "bags of swank"

bags of swank - pride in a job

bail out (or bale out) - to leave an aircraft by parachute: those doing so to save their lives qualified for a Caterpillar Club membership and badge: usually in forced circumstances as distinct from a practice drop

Balbo - large formation of aircraft

balloonatic - member of Balloon Command

banana-boat - aircraft carrier

bandit - enemy aircraft

bandstand - cruet in Officers' Mess

bang on - to be right on target - absolutely correct

bar - second or more the award of the same decoration, also shown by an asterisk e.g. DFC* = DFC and bar

base wallah - someone on HQ staff

basher - man, chap, fellow in a particular trade e.g. stores basher

battle dress blues - woollen working uniform

beam (on the) - be right, understand (opposite of off (the) beam)

beat up - to fly very low over those who are watching in celebration or to show off, sometimes with disciplinary action resulting or tragic consequences - also to attack

Beau - Bristol Beaufighter aircraft

Beer-Barrel - Brewster Buffalo aircraft

beef - bore by talking very dry 'shop'

beehive - very close formation of bombers (hive) with fighter escort (bees)

beer-lever - joystick

beetle-juice - Betelgeux, bright red star which with Sirius and Procyon form an equilateral triangle

Belinda - frequent nickname of barrage ballons

bell (rang the) - got good results

BELLICOSE - first 'shuttle' bombing raid by Bomber Command June 20/21 1943, aircraft landed at Algiers and bombed Spezia on return to UK

belly - underpart of aircraft fuselage

belly landing/belly-flop - to land with the undercarriage retracted

belt (to) - travel at a high speed or to hit target heavily

belt up - be quiet

best blues - parade uniform

Benjamin - jammer to counter the German Y-Ger%E4t bombing aid

Bernhard - German ground-to-air communication system

billed - briefed/detailed in Orders

bind (in a) - people who obstruct or are a nuisance, as in "he's in a bind about my leave"

bind (to) - complain excessively, be officious

binder - someone who complains unduly

binders - brakes of an aircraft

binding - whingeing about conditions

Bishop - Padre

black (a) - something reprehensible, e.g. "he's put up a black with the CO about the mess he made of the march-past"

black box - instrument that enables bomb aimer to see through clouds or in the dark - see also gen box

black-outs - WAAF knickers, navy-blue winter-weights

Blenburgher - Bristol Blenheim aircraft

Blighty - the UK

blister - an enclosure/housing for a machine gun or cannon; a bulge in a perspex canopy to enable a better view

blitz (A solid lump of) - large formation of close flying enemy aircraft

blitz - the cleaning of barracks or buttons

blitz buggy - an ambulance or very fast vehicle

blitz time - time briefed for all aircraft to pass over target

blonde job - young woman with fair hair especially a WAAF

blood chit - ransom note carried by early fliers pre-war

blood-wagon - ambulance

bloody - at the time a fairly heavy duty profanity - often made milder as "ruddy"

blotto - drunk as in "he was completely blotto"

blower - aircraft supercharger; telephone

blue (RAAF) - anything red

Blue (The) - the desert

bluebird - WAAF

bobbing - currying of favour with a superior

bods - squadron personnel

body-snatcher - stretcher bearer

boffins - scientific or technical types who worked on new aircraft or equipment developments

bog - latrine - also "biffy"

bogey - unidentified aircraft

bogus - sham, spurious

bolshie - a crewman who took a dim view of service bull

bomber-boy - member of bomber aircrew

bomb up - to load the bombs on to an aircraft

bomphleteers - airmen engaged on the early pamphlet raids (later called Nickels)

boob (to) - to make a mistake (boob)

boomerang - returning early from an uncompleted operation because of alleged technical problems - see also DNCO

boost - the amount of supercharging given to an engine to increase power (eg: +5 lb)

Boozer - Radar receiver fitted to RAF bombers

borrow - take, appropriate, purloin

bought it (buy a packet) - be shot down, with connotations of carelessness or recklessness

bounce - surprise attack

bound rigid - see bind

bowser - tanker truck or lorry used to refuel aircraft down the flights

box clever - use of intelligence to avoid or wangle one's way out of a situation or duty

Brains Trust - Central Trades Test Board, which examined candidates for a higher classification

brass (the) or brasshats - Senior officers at the Wing or Group level - so called because of the amount of gold braid ("brass") found on their hats

brassed off - some say this is less severe than "cheesed off" which in turn is less severe than "browned off" - unhappy

break van - NAAFI or tea van

brew up - prepare pot of tea

Bricks/Bricks and Mortar - Air Ministry Works Department or Directorate (AMWD) -see Works and Bricks

bride - chap's girl friend, not necessarily sexually intimate

briefing - a meeting of all crews before they set out on an operation, to receive instructions for the op: some might have further specialist briefings e.g. navigators

Brock's benefit - very intense display of flares, searchlights and AA fire (after the firework manufacturer who also supplied many of the flares used)

brolly - parachute

Bromide - jammer to counter the German X-Ger%E4t bombing aid

brown jobs - the Army - also "pongos" and "squaddies"

brown (one's knees) - to have spent time in a posting with a hot climate - because of the heat the wearing of uniform KD shorts was necessary - "get your knees brown, sonny" putting (uppity) newcomers in their place

brown - less severe error than a black

browned off - fed up/angry: see brassed off

bubble dancing - washing one's irons or plates

buggers (play silly) - fool around, not take job seriously

bull - formalities of the service (square bashing, saluting the King's Commission etc.) e.g. "he's full of bull"

bullshit - longer version of bull

Bully Beef - a canned meat product, consisting largely of fat - so called because of the Bull on the front of the Hereford Brand of corned beef

bumf - useless paperwork, apparently bumph is not the correct version of this according to Partridge

bumps - see circuits and bumps

Bundoo (The) - the boondocks (see Blue) - somewhere far from civilisation

bunk - small Corporals' Barrack Room with three bunks

Burton - "Gone for a Burton" - killed in action - some say it comes from from old beer commercial for Burton Ale, but there are other explanations

bus - an aircraft

bus driver - bomber pilot

Buster - as fast as possible.

buttoned up - job properly completed, all sorted out

buy (to) - as in "to buy it" (see Burton) - "to buy the farm"; be killed or lost

buzz - rumour

cabbage - bomb

Calvert Bar landing light system - A system of bars and intervening lights leading to the runway threshold

Camp Comedian - Camp Commandant

canteen cowboy - ladies' man

Cas (the) - CAS, Chief of Air Staff

Cat - Consolidated Catalina aircraft

cat's eyes - particularly keen eyed pilot (esp. John Cunningham)

Caterpillar Club - a club for those who had survived by using their parachutes - the pin was a small caterpillar (representing the insect that made silk) and was given by Irvin, the maker of parachutes

Carpet operation - Supply dropping sortie to Resistance forces

Chain Gang - aircrafthands, General Duties

Chain Home - British early warning radar sytem

chair-borne division - RAF personnel working in offices

champagne glass - Handley Page Hampden aircraft

Chance light - powerful light at end of runway which could be requested by a pilot in difficulty

CHANNEL STOP - Attempt to close the English Channel to the passage of enemy shipping

char - tea, from Hindustani borrowing from Chinese, tchai: "char and a wad"

CHASTISE - attack on the Ruhr Dams by 617 Sqn, May 16/17 1943

cheesed off - see brassed off

Chiefy - Flight Sergeant

chin food - a binder's talk

chippy - carpenter

chocks away - let's make a start

chop, to get the - see Burton

chuffed - happy, pleased

chum - equivalent to the American "buddy"

chute - a parachute

Cigar - see ABC

circuits and bumps - repeated touch and go landings in training

a pilot training exercise in landing an aircraft and immediately taking off again

Circus operations - Fighter-escorted daylight bombing attacks against short-range targets with the aim of bringing the enemy air force to battle

civvies - civilian clothing

civvy - a civilian

civvy kip - bed in civilian life

civvy street - the non military world outside the RAF

clapped out - an aircraft or person nearing the end of its useful life - worn out, tired

CLARION - American plan to disrupt German communications and morale by widespread bombing attacks

clobber - flying gear it was necessary to wear in a wartime bomber

close the hangar doors - stop talking shop (stop talking about RAF matters)

clot - a person whose intelligence should be questioned

club - propeller

clueless - be ignorant of something

cockup - a situation that has become extremely disorganized (from the term "cocked hat")

collect a gong - receive a medal

comb out - make an extensive ground target sweep with gunfire

come up! - put some service in (those with less service are at the bottom of time-based promotion lists)

coming to town - enemy aircraft approaching

coming and going - applied to an aircraft fitted with a wireless set

completely cheesed (off) - utterly fed up

con course - conversion course e.g. when switching from one trade to another

coned - when a master searchlight, often radar controlled, frequently described as having a blueish beam, picked up an aircraft, other searchlights in the area would swing onto the aircraft, thus coning it - then flak would be poured into the cone

conservatory - cabin of a plane (from the perspex on three sides)

Cookie - 4,000lb High Capacity blast bomb, usually dropped with incendiaries; also called a blockbuster (demolish a block of houses)

cooler - guardroom

cope - accomplish, deal with

corker (a) - mine, also very attractive woman

corkscrew - evasive manoeuvre when attacked by night fighter - sharp diving turn to port followed by sharp climbing turn to starboard: one of the gunners, watching the attack, would order the pilot "Corkscrew GO!"

Corona - counterfeit orders to German fighters

court a cat - take a girlfriend out

COSSAC - collective title for Anglo-American staff groups which planned OVERLORD before General Eisenhower's appointment as Supreme Commander

crab - Avro 504 training aircraft

crabbing along - flying near the ground or water

crack ( ) down - (it) when applied to an aircraft, to shoot it down: to crack down on the deck (in the drink) - to crash land on the ground (on the sea)

crack-up - as a verb, to be showing signs of operational stress; otherwise an accident involving repairable damage

crate - aircraft, particularly one which is obsolescent

crib - verb, to complain about

cricket - German night fighter plane

CROSSBOW - attack on V-weapon launching sites

crown (get your) - be promoted to Flight Sergeant, who wore a crown badge above the sergeant's three stripes

curtains - killed

Crump Dump - the Ruhr

crump hole - bomb crater

cu - cumulus cloud

cu nim - cumulo nimbus cloud

Daffy - Boulton Paul Defiant aircraft

daisy cutter - faultless landing

Dalton Computer - early mechanical hand held computer used in air navigation

Darkie - system of homing at night on radio bearings provided by base when requested

Day Ranger - Operation to engage air and ground targets within a wide but specified area, by day

dead stick - engine failed - e.g. dead stick landing is a landing without engine power

debriefing - interrogation over mugs of tea with the Intelligence staff to elicit what happened on the op

deck - the ground : "crack down on the deck" - to "pancake" an aircraft

desert lily - urinal made from tin can

dicey do - a particularly hair-raising operation

dickey flight - a training flight where a pilot not experienced on operations or a senior officer returning to operations would go on an op with an experienced crew as a "second dickey"

dicky seat - the seat originally designed for a second pilot

dim view (take a) - view with scepticism or disapproval

Distil operation - Fighter operation to shoot down enemy aircraft minesweeping, usually off Denmark

ditch - to force land on water

dobhi - one's laundry

DODGE - ferrying troops home from Italy

dog-fight - aerial scrap

doggo (lie) - remain quiet/hidden

Domino - Jammer to counter the German X-Ger%E4t bombing aid

dope - nitrocelluloid liquid, similiar to nail polish, used to tighten and harden fabric (linen) airframe covering

down the flights - the area on an airfield where the aircraft were serviced between ops

DRAGOON - ultimate code name for the invasion of Southern France in August 1944 (previously named ANVIL)

Drem lighting - System of outer markers and approach lights installed at many airfields in the early years of the war

drill (the right) - correct way

drink (in the) - to come down in the sea

driver, airframe - pilot (play on RAF Quater Master labelling of items)

drome - (aerodrome) - an airfield

dud - weather: when not fit to fly - bombs/ammunition: didn't go off

duff - see u/s - also "not accurate/wrong" as in "duff gen" - the opposite of "pukka gen"

D%FCppel - German name for metal foil dropped to confuse radar

dustbin - ventral gunner's position in aircraft

dust-up - heated action/fight/altercation

egg - a bomb or mine (lay eggs - lay mines)

egg-whisk - an autogyro

Elsan - chemical toilet carried on some aircraft (Elsan gen - unreliable information)

embark leave - embarkation leave given when about to go overseas

Engines - Engineering Officer

Erb - any airman

erk - junior ground crew - from the Cockney pronunciation of aircraftman

Eureka - ground radio transmitter for guiding bombers to their target

everything under control - all is well

EXODUS - Ferrying troops and displaced persons to and from Europe

Eyetie - an Italian (plane)

Faithful Annie - Avro Anson

fan - propeller

Fighter Night patrol - Fighter patrol over area where anti-aircraft gunners were ordered not to fire, sometimes restricted to certain altitudes

finger (to remove one's) - hurry up and/or pay attention

fishheads - Navy

fitter - ground crew responsible for engines and related controls

Firebash sorties - sorties by Mosquitoes of 100 Group with the aircraft delivering incendiary or napalm loads on German airfields

fireproof - invulnerable

fireworks - heavy anti aircraft fire

Fizzer - (disciplinary) charge

Flak - Fliegerabwehrkanonen - anti-aircraft gun: in reports heavy/light flak referred to to the calibre observed not the intensity - "getting some flak" - being criticised

flame float - small floating incendiary device thrown down the flare chute so that the rear gunner could center the "pip" on his reflector sight on the point of light and then read off the degree of deviation from a scale on his turret ring - thus providing the navigator with the degree of wind drift blowing the a/c off track

flamer - aircraft shot down in flames

flaming - mild, all purpose expletive

flaming onions - anti aircraft tracer

flannel - to avoid the truth, bluffing

flap - ("there's a flap on") - rush to get something done - somewhat panicky activity e.g. resulting from the unexpected arrival of a very senior officer

flare path - a row of lights (either kerosene gooseneck flares or permanent base electric lights) marking the boundary of the runway for taking off and landing

flat out for (be) - support, be in favour of ("I'm flat out for his move")

flicks - searchlights or cinema.

flight - a bomber squadron was in one or more Flights - e.g. A and B each consisting of 6-8 aircraft and crews: each Flight was commanded by a Squadron Leader or Flight Lieutenant - A Flight aircraft were lettered A-N and B Flight from M-Z

Flight - Flight Sergeant (Flight Louie - Flight Lieutenant: flight magician - flight mechanic)

fling (or throw) one up - salute

flip - short flight, especially when as a favour to a friend

flying brevet - cloth insignia worn on all uniforms including battle dress to indicate aircrew trade - pilots' brevets were two winged - all other crew wore a single wing with their trade marked inside a circular area at the base of the wing: in the early part of the war a trade which later disappeared was Observer (Navigator/Bomb Aimer), they wore a winged O, which was fondly known as the flying arsehole

flying log - every aircrew member was required to keep a flying logbook of every flight taken - including air tests, transport, training and operational flying - this was signed by the Flight Commander each month and by the CO. At the end of a tour the C/O and the Trade Leader would sign (eg: a Bomb Aimer's log would be signed by the Bombing Leader, The Gunner's by the Gunnery Leader etc.)

Flying Pencil - Dornier bomber

Flying Suitcase (Tadpole) - Handley Page Hampden

Flying Tin-Opener - Hurricane in tank busting role

fold up (to) - suddenly crash

football feet - make excessive use of rudder

fore-and-aft - RAF field service cap (now known as a 'chip bag') as distinct from dress service cap

foreigner - article made of RAF material

Form 78 - RAF form also called Aircraft Movement Card which followed the aircraft from the manufacturer to its final resting place

Form 540 - pages of this form make up the Operations Record Books (ORB): the column headings are date, aircraft type and number, crew, duty, Time up, Time down, Details of sortie or flight, References

Form 541 - pages of this form were used for the Appendices to the ORB

Form 700 - form setting out the serviceability status of an aircraft, signed by the captain to signify taking over responsilbility for it from the ground crew: the Form had to list any defects

Fort - Boeing B-17 Heavy Daylight Bomber

fox (to) - to do something clever or rather cunning, bamboozle

Freeman, Hardy & Willis - or Pip, Squeak and Wilfred - 1914-15 Star, Overseas Service and Victory medals of the 1914-18 war (FHW was a chain of shoe shops, Pip etc. were comic strip characters). If the 1914-15 Star was missing the other two were nicknamed Mutt and Jeff from two early cinema cartoon characters

Freya - German early warning radar

frozen on the stick - paralysed with fear

fruit salad - ribbons from medals ("gongs") wrapped around a thin bar and sewn together were worn under the flying brevet - the various colours of the ribbons would resemble fruit salad - applied to someone who had a large collection of awards; sometimes to Americans, who seemingly had more opportunities for awards than the RAF

FULLER - counter measures agains the escape of the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau from Brest

full bore - flat out, at top speed

Gardening - sea/coastal mine-laying by aircraft

gate (through the) - apply maximum power

Gee - Medium-range radio aid to navigation equipment employing ground transmitters and airborne receiver

Giant W%FCrzburg - German fighter control radar

Grand Slam - 22,000lb penetrating (earthquake) bomb

groundcrew - RAF trade not wearing a flying brevet

gen - a person on squadron who knew what he was doing - as in "a gen bod"

gen - information (either good - see "pukka" or bad see "duff"): gen up - to swot for exams

gen box - see black box

George - automatic pilot

Gerry or Jerry - German

get cracking - get on with it, get going

get some in - advice given to sprog crews who inadvisedly gave old lags on their opinion of operational flying (from "get some time in") - often paired with "chum" as in "Get some in chum, before you tell your grandmother how to suck eggs"

gharry - originally a horse drawn cart - came to mean any form of wheeled transport

get some flying hours in - get some sleep

gippy tummy - "the screaming (h)ab dabs", dysentry, "the trots", at worst, gastroenteritis, associated with Egypt

glasshouse - held in detention on camp

goggled goblin - night fighter pilot

going (around again) - repeating the bomb run to get a better result

golden eagle sits on Friday/lays its eggs - next Friday is pay parade

GOMORRAH - firestorm raid on Hamburg 1943

gone for six - dead

goner - fatally hit (aircraft or person) - killed/missing: see also Burton as in "gone for a Burton"

gong - a medal, specifically a decoration, but now used to describe all service medals

good show - excellent performance, well done

goof - ladies man

goolie chit - a scrap of paper or piece of cloth that when shown to the natives of a country over which you might be shot down offered a reward if they would return you alive and entire to the nearest Allied unit: arose from NW frontier and Iraq where the ladies of some tribes played nasty games with sharp knives

goolies - a vital body part for aircrew - "I almost got my goolies shot off, last op"

goon - fool, very stupind person: POW - German guards

Gossage - barrage balloon (after AOC Balloon Command Sir Leslie Gossage)

grab for altitude - try to gain altitude in flight: become very angry

grand - unit of altitude, 1000 feet - see also the more often quoted angels

gravel bashing - see square bashing

gravel basher - Drill or Physical Training Instructor

Gravy (the) - Atlantic: gravy - fuel

green (in the) - all engine control gauges operating correctly - a needle which swung into the "red" indicated a malfunction

green (to get the) - to receive permission to take off (expanded to get permission for anything) - the airfield control officer would signal with a morse code Aldis Lamp with a green lens to give an aircraft permission to take off - usually the message was the letter of the aircraft (eg: P for Peter - .. -)

greenhouse - cockpit windows

greens (three) - both main undercart legs and the tailwheel down and locked - this was indicated by three lights on the flying panel: up and locked would be indicated by "three reds"

gremlin - a mythical creature that lived on certain aircraft and caused it to go u/s at the most inconvenient times and then could not be located as the source of the problem when checks were made

grief (to come to) - be destroyed or to get into trouble

GR Navvy - general reconnaissance navigator

grocer - Equipment Officer

groceries - bombs see also cabbage, cookie, egg

grope - ground operational exercise

grounded - not permitted to fly: someone newly married (can't fly by night)

ground wallah - an officer who did not fly

ground-strafe - low flying attack

Group - a formation of Wings

Groupie - Group Captain - usual rank of officer who commanded a Wing or and RAF Station

gubbins - equipment or needed material (eg: "has that kite got the gubbins for dropping a cookie?")

Guinea Pig Club - after an incident where aircrew were extremely badly burned they would be sent to East Grinstead Hospital in the U.K. where some of the foremost plastic surgeons of the day performed "cutting edge" surgery - the term was made up by the patients themselves - many today proudly wear the maroon tie of the club

Gussie - officer (from Augustus, a then typical 'tony' or posh name)

hack (station) - a/c on squadron used for general communications duties or as the CO's private mount

HADDOCK - code name for a force of Wellingtons sent to the South of France in 1940 to bomb Italy

half-pint hero - a boaster

half-section - mate, companion, even wife

Halibag - Handley Page Halifax four engine bomber

Ham-Bone - Handley Page Hampden

Hangar doors closed! - see close the hangar doors

Happy Valley - the Ruhr, much bombed and very heavily defended

heavy - heavy bomb or bomber

hedge-hopping - flying so low that the aircraft appears to hop over the hedges

Herc - Bristol Hercules sleeve valve air cooled radial engine

Himmelbett - German system of controlled night fighting

hip-flask - revolver

hit the deck - to land

hockey stick - bomb loading jack or hoist

hoick off - take off: move quickly to some place

hold everything - stop what you are doing and wait for new instructions

hoosh - land at great speed

homework - sweetheart or girlfriend

Hoover - fighter sweep

hop the twig - crash fatally (Canadian)

hot - right (bang) up to date: fast (USA)

hours - on 24 hour clock - time - 2345 hours would be 12:45 p.m. ,also could be the amount of time in the air as calculated in your log book: night hours were usually written in red

huffy - WAAF disdainful of approaches

hulk - a severely damaged aircraft

humdinger - very fast plane

Hun - German

Hurryback - Hurricane fighter

Hurrybuster - see Flying Tin Opener

illuminator - a crew tasked with dropping flares on a night target so that the following a/c could aim accurately

intell - intelligence officer (I/O) or intelligence report

intercom - the system by which the various crew members communicated with each other by voice in the aircraft

iron lung - Nissen Hut

Irvin Jacket - Standard RAF leather flying jacket lined with fleece

jankers - to be put "on a charge" for a violation of service discipline

Jerry - German (plane)

Jerrycan - excellent German heavy duty portable can for holding water, fuel or other liquid - quickly replaced the leaky tins used by the RAF, was manufactured in England to the German pattern

jink away - sharp manoeuvre, sudden evasive action of aircraft

juice - aviation fuel (as in "we are low on juice") - also "gravy" - AVGAS was 100 Octane petrol

K site - airfields with dummy aircraft for deception by day

keen - eager or reliable - "keen as mustard "- pun on Kean's mustard powder

khamsin - a desert dust storm

king - NCO in charge of, e.g. bowser king

Kipper Kite - Coastal Command aircraft which protected fishing fleets in the North and Irish Seas

kit - ones belongings, both issue and personal - (hence kitbag) - also used to mean equipment as in "Does that erk have the kit to repair the hole in the starboard wing?"

kite - an aircraft (in the USAAF also called a "ship)

Knickebein - German navigational aid

knot - measure of air or ground speed - one nautical mile per hour (1.150 statute miles per hour)

Ladybird - WAAF Officer

Lagoon - Shipping reconnaissance operation off the Dutch coast

laid on (have) - provided, organised for you

Lanc - Avro Lancaster bomber

let down - descend through cloud

let up - ease up on throttle

Lib - Consolidated B-24 Liberator

Lichtenstein - German night fighter radar

Lindholme gear - equipment dropped from air-sea rescue aircraft to crews ditched in the sea, developed at RAF Lindholme

line book - book kept in the Mess in which two or more officers could record a 'line shoot' by someone

line shoot - shooting a line - exaggerating one's accomplishments - usually responded to by the line "there I was upside down, nothing on the clock but the makers name...."

lose your wool - lose composure

Lorenz system - Blind beam approach system

low down (the) - inside information

Mae West - inflatable life vest worn over flying suit (when inflated resembled the pigeon breasted movie star)

Mahmoud sortie - night fighter sortie to specific point over enemy territory to engage his night fighters in that area

mahogany Spitfire - desk - "flown" by penguins and ground wallahs

main bit - major section of an aircraft

Mandrel - Airborne radio swamping of the German early warning system, device used by 100 Group

MANNA - delivery of food and supplies to Holland by air in 1945

Meacon - stations set up to broadcast signals aimed at 'bending' or altering German navigation transmissions

meat wagon - ambulance

mepacrine - standard anti-malarial drug of the day

mess - place assigned for other ranks, or (separately) NCOs and Officers to eat or relax - there was a protocol as to who could enter who's mess

Met - Meteorology Officer or weather report

Mickey Mouse - bomb-dropping controls - the bombing panel consisted of a clockwork distributor and selection switches (hence like a mickey mouse watch)

MILLENNIUM - first 1000 bomber raid, on Cologne May30/31 1943

milling around - aircraft forming defensive circle

mixed death - various types of ammunition combined in a belt

mob - Royal Air Force

Monica - Radar fitted in rear of Bomber Command aircraft to provide some early warning of night fighters; in July 1944 it was found that Monica was being detected as a homing signal for the Luftwaffe

muscle in (on) - to take advantage of something

Mossie - De Haviland Mosquito aircraft

Musical Paramatta - method of ground marking a target by coloured target indicators dropped blindly on Oboe

Musical Wanganui - method of sky marking a target by parachute borne coloured markers dropped blindly on Oboe

Naxos - German radar device enabling fighters to home on H2S transmissions of bombers

Newhaven - Method of ground marking a target by flares or target indicators dropped blindly on HS followed by visual identification

Nickel - Leaflet dropping operation

Nickels - propaganda leaflets

Night Ranger - Operation to engage air and ground targets within a wide but specified area, by night

no joy - no enemy contact

Nobby - all purpose nickname for anyone called Clark or Clarke. Originally clarks (which we now almost all spell "clerks", but in the UK still pronounced in the original fashion) wore top hats as a sign of their trade. The gentry, or "nobs" also wore top hats and thus the clarks came by the name "nobby" because of their "posh" hats

Oboe - Ground-controlled radar system of blind bombing in which one station indicated track to be followed and another the bomb release point

OCTAGON - second Quebec Conference, September 1944

odd bod - crew member who had lost his crew or who had fallen behind the rest of his crew in number of operational trips, or whose crew could not fly because of illness etc., and who flew as a "spare" with another crew, "spare bod"

office - cockpit of aircraft

old lag - experienced airman - often Regular Airforce

Old Man (the) - Squadron CO

on the beam - some stations were equipped with a landing beam which told the pilot he was on the correct glide slope for landing - if he flew too high he would hear a series of morse dots and if too low a series of morse dashes - the idea was to keep a steady tone in one's earphones - also showed up in some aircraft as a set of lights showing that one was on the correct beam or too high or low - also used for flying on a navigation beam such as Gee or Oboe - generally translated to being on the right course of action about anything as in "I think the Wingco's on the beam about not flying over the Alps again."

op (operation) - an attack on the enemy (USAAF term - "mission")

opsum - Operational Summary - prepared by the Intelligence Officer from debriefing notes recording the results of an operation

oranges - Vitamin C tablets

organize - to "win" a wanted article

other ranks - "ORs" - those below officer level

overload tanks - extra fuel tanks required when for example a Wellington was operated at its extreme range - two could be fitted in the bomb bays and one could be fitted on the rest cot in the fuselage

OVERLORD - Allied invasion of northern France in June 1944

pack up - cease to function - "My port engine packed up coming out of the target area"

packet (catch a) - be on the receiving end of offensive fire (as in "I heard Nobby caught a packet over Verona last night")

PAMPA - Long-range weather reporting sortie

pancake - to land

pansy - effeminate

party - air battle

passion killers - WAAF blackouts (see blackouts)

passion wagon - WAAF transport

peel off (to) - break formation to engage enemy

penguin - for ground officers with no operational experience

perch - to land

pickled - drunk

pie eyed - drunk

piece of cake - an easy target with little opposition - anything easily done

piece of nice - any pleasant entertainmaint

plaster - to bomb heavily and accurately

play pussy - hide in the clouds.

pleep - A squeak, rather like a high note klaxon.

plonk - cheap wine, also "AC plonk" - A/C 2 - the lowest rank in the RAF

plug away - continue to fire, keep going for target

plumber - Armourer

Pom - Australian term for the British - also "Pommy" used adjectivally as in "What a typical Pommy cockup.."

POINTBLANK - directive for the Combined Bomber Offensive, June 1943

poop off - open fire

popsie - young lady

port - the left side of a/c as seen from pilots seat

posted - orders sending a crewman to another station or responsibility

prang - to crash an a/c or to hit a target well

PRATA - Weather reconnaissance flight

press on regardless - unofficial motto of RAF - meant to show keeness to fly through adversity to the target

Prune, P/O - fictional officer in the RAF training manuals who demonstrated all of the things that could go wrong if procedures were not followed correctly

pukka - genuine as in "pukka gen"

pulpit - cockpit of aircraft

pundit - a flashing light which signalled the airfield identity in order to assist navigation

QUADRANT - first Quebec Conference, August, 1943

Q-site - site flashing lights to represent a mock airfield to attract enemy attention at night

Queen Bee - WAAF Officer in charge of the WAAF in a unit or camp

Queen Mary - an articulated "semi" trailer used to transport aircraft or aircraft parts by ground to Maintenance Units for service or refurbishment

quick squirt - short sharp burst of machine-gun fire - "quickie"

Ramrod - bomber raid escorted by fighters aimed at destruction of a specific target in daylight

Ranger - usually a deep penetration flight to a specified area, to engage targets of opportunity

Rhombus - weather reporting flight

Rhubarb - low-level strike operation mounted in cloudy condition against enemy targets in Occupied Countries

rigger - ground crew responsible for airframe (specialists might include "instrument bashers" and "sparks" to look after instruments and electrical systems)

rings - rank designation on officer's cuffs e.g. half ringer = Pilot Officer, one ringer = Flying Officer, two ringer = Flight Lieutenant, two and a half = Squadron Leader, three = Wing Commander

Roadstead - fighter operation mounted against shipping

ROBINSON - daylight Lancaster raid on Le Creusot, October 17th 1942

rocket - a reprimand

Rodeo - Fighter sweep

roddie or rodded bombs - bomb fitted with a rod in the nose so that it would explode above the ground - used in antipersonnel ops

ropey - uncomplimentary adjective "A ropey landing", "A ropey type", "A ropey evening", etc.

round - one cartridge of .303 ammunition, ammunition was measured in number of rounds carried

Rover - Coastal Command armed patrol to search for enemy shipping

runup - to test engines for magneto drop before taking off - also the route taken into the target area before the bomb dropping point was reached

salvo - bomb selection which released all bombs at the same time

sardine-tin - torpedo carrying plane

Sashlite bulb - Photo-flash bulb used for training and experimental purposes

Sasso - SASO - Senior Air Staff Officer

sawn-off - short in stature

scapathy - feeling of depression said to be found among some of those posted to the Orkneys

scarecrow - crews reported aircraft blowing up without evidence of attacks (e.g. tracer), and the story arose that the Germans were firing scarecrow shells to simulate stricken aircraft, so as to demoralise crews. Probably actually the result of Schr%E4ge Musik attacks, but less easy to explain in daylight reports.

scarlet slugs - Bofors tracer fire

schooly - Education Officer

Schr%E4ge Musik - devastatingly successful upward firing gun fighter attack using tracerless ammunition against bombers used by expert Luftwaffe pilots, used in WWI by Albert Ball

scramble - immediate operational take off

scrambled egg - gold braid on Group Captain or higher officers' hats

scrap - fight

scraper ring - half (middle) ring on a Squadron Leader's tunic cuffs (technical origin: from pistons)

scream downhill - execute a power dive

screamer - bomb that makes a whistling sound as it comes down

screened - a period after completing a tour when aircrew could not be called on to do operational flying

screw - propeller

scrounge - obtain illicitly

scrub - to cancel an op

scrub around - take evasive action

SEA LION - German plan for the invasion of England

second dickey - additional pilot usually aboard for experience on an operation before starting ops with his own crew: the first pilot is however not called a first dickey

senior scribe - NCO i/c O/R - NCO in charge of the Orderly Room

Serrate sortie - Operation to locate and destroy enemy night fighters and combined with night bomber raids. Made use of airborne radar

SEXTANT - Cairo Conference, November-December 1943

Shagbat - Supermarine Walrus aircraft

shakey do - see "dicey do"

shed - hangar

ships that pass in the night - those serving only for the duration (of the war)

##### - very bad weather

shooting a line - see line shoot: recorded in line book or shooting gallery

shot down in flames - crossed in love - severely reprimanded

shot up - very drunk

shot to ribbons - totally incapable through drink

show - performance or situation - ("that was a good show over Budapest" or "he put on a bad show")

shufti (have a) - take a look

Sid Walker gang - crash salvage party: Cockney comedian of that name, song of his was 'Day after day, I'm on my way, Any rags, bottles or bones?'

silver sausage - barrage balloon

six (hit for a) - to score maximum points - to put on a very good show (from cricket)

skipper - the captain of the aircraft and crew leader - in the air his rule was law regardless of his rank

skirt patrol - search for a female companion

sky-piece - smoke trails

sky pilot - padre

smashing job - excellent (aircraft, girl)

snake - lively or noisy party

snake about - evasive action when chased by enemy fighters or searchlights or AA fire

snake-charmers - dance band

snappers - enemy fighters

snargasher - training aircraft (Canadian usage)

snoop - Service Policeman; SP about his duties

soggy - aircraft with unresponsive controls; soggy type - dull or unintereting person

sortie - one aircraft doing one trip to target and back

soup - fog; "tangled in the soup" - astray in the fog

Spam - canned meat product - produced by Hormel in the US - substitute for real meat (see Bully Beef)

spam can - B-24 Liberator

spam medal - 1939-43 Star (also Naffy gong)

sparks - term for either the ground crew who looked after the electrical systems or the aircrew wireless operator

spawny - very lucky

Spit - Supermarine Spitfire aircraft

spit-and-polish parade - parade inspection by CO or an ACO

split-arse - daring, reckless

spoof - a diversionary raid or operation

sprog - a "new boy" fresh from training - inexperienced (also a "sprog crew") - US "rookie"

spun in - bad mistake, analogy from an aircraft spinning out of control into the ground

Spartan - exercise to establish methods of making entire airfield formation mobile

Squadron Leader - rank of officer who usually led a Flight: also squadron bleeder

Squadron Leader Swill - Admin Officer, whose duties included disposal of swill

squadron vic - V shaped formation of aircraft

square bashing - (marching) drill on the square or parade ground

squirt - to fire a short burst from machine guns - as in "the R/G gave him a squirt before we went into the corkscrew"

squo - Squadron Officer - WAAF equivalent to RAF Squadron Leader

stand down - no operations planned

starboard - the right side of the a/c as seen from pilot's seat

Starfish - UK decoy sites with various fire and illumination effects simulating targets to lure Axis bomber formations e.g. Langstone Harbour for Portsmouth

STARKEY - large scale spoof invasion of the Pas de Calais in September 1943, mounted to assess German reaction and bring his fighters to battle, which brought about the unplanned destruction of the French town of Le Portel

Stationmaster - CO of Station

Stationmaster's meetings - meetings run by Station Commander

steam - work hard and effectively

stick - bomb selection so that bombs would be released at timed intervals from their carriers in the bomb bay (also to release only a part of bomb load, going around a second time to drop the rest)

stiffener - someone who binds you rigid

stooge - deputy, i.e. second pilot or any assistant

stooging (around) - flying around waiting for something to happen - flying slowly over an area, patrolling

Store Basher's Bible - Air Publication No.830: vol I Equipment Regulations; vol II Storage and Packing; vol III Scales of RAF Equipment

strip (tear off a) - to be severely reprimanded by a superior - reflecting the tearing off of rank badges when someone was demoted

Sun - Short Sunderland aircraft

Sunray - Overseas training flight for bomber crews

Sunray - code for any CO

supercharged - in a drunken state

swede - green recruit/countrified

sweep - systematic operation to flush out targets in a given area e.g. fighter sweep

swindle - cunning piece of work

synthetic - not the real thing e.g. flying simulators

Tallboy - 12,0001b penetrating (earthquake) bomb

tail end Charlie - rear gunner or rear aircraft of a formation

take it on - (aeroplane) climb rapidly

Tame Sow/Zahme Sau - German tactics, designed to bring night fighters in contact with bombers moving to and from target, using co-ordinated groups

tapes (get) - become a corporal; get your third tape - become a sergeant

tap in - have a good time (France 1940); "enemy aircraft ahead, let's tap in"

taps - controls, indicators in the cockpit or cabin of an aircraft

target for tonight - girl friend

tatered - depressed by unexciting patrols

taters (sack of) - load of bombs delivered to same address

taxi - plane carrying small number of passengers

taxidermist (go and see) - go and get stuffed

taxi-driver - instructor at a school of air navigation

tear off a strip - reprimand, "take down a peg"

teased out - exhausted or very tired after long duty on a patrol or raid

teat - electric button which fires the guns (or tit, also for dropping bombs)

Tee Emm - RAF Magazine (as in Training Manual), post war retitled Happy Landings

tee up - prepare a job, to get ready.

ten-tenths - no visibility because of total cloud cover - also 10/10ths flak - very heavy concentration

Theatre or Theatre of Operations - geographic area where combat was taking place - eg: The Mediterranean Theatre, The Far East Theatre etc. : US - ETO European Theater of Operations

three months bumps - 3 month course of training in flying

three pointer - excellent landing (on all three wheels)

Thum - Weather reporting flight

THUNDERCLAP - Plan to deliver a sudden, catastrophic blow by bombing Berlin and other cities with a view to bringing about German surrender

ticket - pilot's certificate

tiggerty-boo (tickety-boo) - all in order (tiggerty from the Hindustani teega)

tin basher - metal worker

tin fish - torpedo

Tinsel - broadcasting bomber engine noises on the German fighter control frequencies

titfa/titfer - cap, steel hat (rhyming slang tit-for-tat)

Tommy - after Tommy Atkins (Kipling) - originally used to denote the British infantryman - later to be used by the Germans as "tommi" as their equivalent to "Gerry" : US equivalent - "G.I."

tool along - fly aimlessly

totem-pole - airfield lighting equipment of this shape

TORCH - Allied invasion of French North Africa in 1942

touch bottom - crash

touch down - to land

tour (of operations) - initially a period of time, later a number of ops, that a bomber crewman had to complete before being screened

toy - a training aircraft or Link Trainer

toys - mechanical parts of a plane beloved of the armourers and mechanics

tracer - a type of machine gun round which glowed as it moved showing the way to the target and allowing for adjustments in sighting - unfortunately also gave away the firer's position - usually every fourth round was a tracer

train (driving the) - leading more than one squadron into battle

Trenchard Brat - RAF Boy Apprentice: to be a Brat was highly regarded as the training was tough and the standards demanded were high; many achieved distinction

trip - an op

TRIDENT- The third Washington Conference, May 1943

trousers - fairing of the undercarriage legs of certain types of aircraft, see also spats

tug - plane which tows gliders or targets

turn up the wick - open the throttle

turnip bashing - drill on the square or in fields

twilights - Summer-weight lighter coloured underwear of the WAAF

twit - see clot

twitch - body tremors developed by aircrew after a number of operations - "he's got the twitch" - sign of operational stress

two-six (2-6) - general base call "down the flights", all personnel needed on a job

type - a kind of person ( as in: "he's a ropey type" or "he's a bolshie type")

umbrella - parachute

undercart - the undercarriage of an aircraft - two main wheels and a tail wheel in the case of "taildraggers" like the Wellington - two main and a nosewheel for "tricycle" aircraft like the B-24 - attempting a landing with the 'cart "up" was considered a "putting up a large black" for the pilot

upstairs - in the air

up top - flying high

UP - projector for firing Z rockets

VARSITY - Airborne operation to facilitate the crossing of the River Rhine in March 1945

Vees - a brand of wartime cigarette

vegetables - acoustic or magnetic mines sowed on gardening expeditions to various "beds"

V Force - the RAF's strategic jet bomber fleet of Valiants, Victors and Vulcans

vic - aircraft formation in the shape of a "vee" usually three aircraft but could be more

Vic - Vickers Victoria or Vickers Valencia aircraft

view - RAF personnel always take a "view" of things: good, poor, dim, long distance view, lean view, outside view, "Ropey" view

visiting card - bomb

waafize - the substitution of WAAF for male members of a unit

wad - cake or bun or scone "char and a wad"

waffle/waffling - out of control, losing height; or cruising along unconcernedly and indecisively

wallah - chap or fellow

wallop - beer

wanks - strong liquor

washed out - scrubbed - to fail as a student pilot - bomb aimers or navigators in particular were often scrubbed pilots

Wassermann - German early warning radar

wear (it) - tolerate, accept, permit

weaving - a gentle form of corkscrew - evasive manoeuvre to allow gunners maximum view around aircraft, especially below

weaving (get) - get going, hurry up

Week-End Air Force - Auxiliary Air Force, 1925 to outbreak of war

wheels down - get ready to leave a form of transportation

whiff - Oxygen

Whirligig - Westland Whirlwind aircraft

Whispering Death - Beaufighter

whistle (to) - depart hurriedly e.g. scramble

whistled - state of intoxication

whistler - high explosive bomb as it comes down

wild - (is or was, of an aircraft) - faster, performs more energetically than expected

Wild Sow/Wilde Sau - German tactics to engage bombers over the target by individual fighters

Wimpey - Vickers Armstrong's Wellington Bomber - after J. Wellington Wimpey from Popeye comic strip

windmill - see egg-whisk; motion of an unpowered propeller

Window - Tinfoil strips dropped by bombers to disrupt enemy radar system

Wing - unit made up of two or sometimes three squadrons

Wingco - Wing Commander

wizard/wizzo - really first class, superlative, attractive, ingenious

wog - coloured person, native (westernized oriental gentleman)

wop - Wireless Operator

wopag - Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

wom - Wireless Operator/Mechanic

woof - to open the throttle very quickly

Works and Bricks - Air Ministry Works Directorate AMWD responsible for the construction and maintenance of aerodromes, hangars, offices etc.

wrap up - crash

wrapped-up - under perfect control

write-off - something damaged beyond repair

W%FCrzburg - German radar used to direct A.A. guns, searchlights, and briefly, night fighters

X-Ger%E4t - German bombing aid

Y-control - method of controlling night fighters using modified Y-Ger%E4t equipment

Y-Ger%E4t - German bombing aid

Y Service - ground based signals monitoring service, using German or Italian speaking operators

yellow doughnut - collapsible dinghy carried on aircraft

yellow peril - training aircraft


Action Stations e.g. No.1, MJF Bowyer (Patrick Stephens, 1979)

A Dictionary of RAF Slang, Eric Partidge (first published 1945 by Michael Joseph; Pavilion Books in 1990 - edition shown): many seem to have an early WWII flavour

RAF Records at the PRO, Fowler, Elliott, Nesbit, Goulter (PRO Publications, HMSO 1994)

Per Ardua Ad Astra - A Handbook of the Royal Air Force, Philip Congdon (Airlife, 1994)

The Bomber Offensive, Verrier (Batsford 1968)

USAAF WWII Code names

Acknowledgements to other contributors:

Alan Cooper, author

Bob Milne, Surrey ACA

RE: RAF Slang
Author: BillWalker
Time Stamp:
14:25:32 14 May 2007
Many of these terms also appear in "Words on the Wing: Slangs, Aphorisms, Catchphrases and Jargon of Canadian Military Aviation since 1914", by Tom Langeste, published by The Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies, 1995.

No mention of dazzler.

Bill Walker

Canadian Military Aircraft Serial Numbers

RE: RAF Slang
Author: Sussex Research (Guest)
Time Stamp:
19:48:59 14 May 2007
Just to add to Anne Storm, my old Dad, b 1904, RAF Regiment (Rock Apes) 1939-1946 would always refer to a pretty young lady ( if that expression is P.C.) as 'A right Bobby Dazzler' and he was born in Sussex.

RE: RAF Slang
Author: aestorm
Time Stamp:
21:26:54 14 May 2007

To add to that ---.

My husband said his Yorkshire mother used the words "he's a right Bobby Dazzler" when referring to a man who was too sure of himself !

Wow, we have got "off topic" but its fun !!!

And who was Bobby ?


RE: RAF Slang
Author: WimpyT2560
Time Stamp:
18:19:30 15 May 2007
I have a copy of a poem entitled 'Who'll fly a Wimpy?' featuring the crews wittisms on flying the Wellington. The last verse goes:

How is the Met sir, How is the Met sir,

How is the Met? - It looks very Dud to Me.

Lets scrub it out sir, lets scrub it out sir,

'Cos I've got a date fixed with my Popsie...


RE: RAF Slang
Author: ChrisM
Time Stamp:
12:20:42 17 May 2007
[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 17-May-07 AT 12:25 PM (GMT)[/font][p]According to OED "bobby-dazzler" predates the RAF and even the RFC by, at the very least, 50 years and probably much longer. Their first quoted reference to its use is from 1866:

"Morgan-rattlers... In Cornwall the word is frequently applied to..things that are particularly striking or excellent of their kind. What a Lancashire man would sometimes call a ‘regular bobby-dazzler’, a Cornishman would call a ‘regular morgan-rattler’"

Thus its meaning then was, and possibly even still is, anything - object, action, event - that dazzles or impresses. When applied to a lady's frock, it seems to have transferred itself to the person of the wearer. Was "bobby" perhaps the same as the meaning which survives today from the 1830s - Sir Robert Peel's "bobbies" or "peelers"?

It would be interesting to know whether any or many of the terms in Kennill's "wizzo" WW2 list are still normal currency in today's RAF. I certainly recognise a number still in use in the 1950s amongst us erks (and am chuffed still to find one or two of them quite useful!)

Sorry to beef .........(not "to complain, grumble, protest"; but to "bore by talking very dry 'shop'")


RE: RAF Slang
Author: Rob Campbell (Guest)
Time Stamp:
19:33:11 18 May 2007
Wizard topic.

I think we are all fascinated in varying degrees by "slang" as it represents an identity to various groups whether they be roughnecks (oilfield worker), Brahs(South African surfers) or Kreigies(PoW).

Here is a poem that my father passed along to me from his stay at the Belaria Compound of Stalag Luft III. It's in both official languages. I'll have to ask him who the author was.


When we joined the Air Force we thought it would be better

To include a little service slang in Mother's weekly letter.

She also learned that we were cheesed, browned off from being sprogs

We didn't like the bull at all, we cleaned too many bogs.

When home on leave we treat the gal to chat p'raps a wad

And speak about her father as a pretty clueless bod.

While her brother in the army, a brown job had no hope

He simply hadn't got the griff, the pongo, couldn't cope.

Our flying was a piece of cake, the odd prang now and then,

But usually we'd stooge around, we really had the gen.

We'd blast the Hun, defy the flak, press on thru ice and snow,

And sometimes we'd collect a gong, bang on, wizard show!

Then came the night of our group's big boob, some type was not on top,

Achtung you shall zee Burton haf, I git to you zee chop!

Of which we took it very dim when dawned the realization

We'd have to learn some brand new slang, or was it affectation?

So now we're Kreigies, drinking brew instead of dear old char,

We thrive on gash and corned beef hash and mortgage our D-Bar

We give goons hell on appell, we pit bash day and night

We're round the bend but fraiseno end our efforts to arbeit.

So Mother dear, don't think us queer, just blame it on the goons

If at night awake with bowls of prunes

We really are quite harmless and are fairly young

So we'll settle down when we get back to learn our mother tongue.

Leave no stone unturned.


RE: RAF Slang
Author: JJ's Girl (Guest)
Time Stamp:
19:52:40 18 May 2007
Thank you sooooo much to everyone thats responded to this post. You are all brilliant!

A very special thank you to Rob Campbell for sharing this poem that your father passed to you. It is smashing and Im sure the others will agree. Its really touching. Thank you so much!!

p/s anyone remember the Dambusters movie...Was it Micky? thats said 'lets go to London and look at some "dazzling girls'?...I know historically that part didnt happen as to where the idea came from for using spotlights on the bombers, never the less, it was the word I was looking for.

Best Wishes

JJ's Girl, NY

RE: RAF Slang
Author: Aubrey (Guest)
Time Stamp:
21:06:30 18 May 2007

I must agree with JJ's Girl's tribute to the poem passed on by your father

However, please can you (or anyone else for that matter) interpret/explain "fraiseno" and "arbeit?"

I did wonder if the former was a corruption of "afraid there's no"



RE: RAF Slang
Author: BillG (Guest)
Time Stamp:
23:10:17 21 May 2007
Arbeit= German word for work. Rough pronounciation, sounds like arebite.

Further slang words;

Clag=cloud or fog.

Wingless Wonder= non-aircrew officer.

Bumpf= paperwork,usually in large quantities,e.g. "loads/stacks of bumpf".

Scrambled Egg= gilt oak leaves on peak of Senior Officer's Cap.

(Group Captain and above.)

Shufti (from Arabic,)= look. e.g. "lets have a shufti"

RE: RAF Slang
Author: annsa
Time Stamp:
09:24:23 22 May 2007
Hi Aubrey,

Arbeit is the German word for work.

Also Pongo - although it's probably been explained is Pongo pongo, the Latin name for Orang-u-tans which is a RAF slang name for a member of the Army. I remember also that a friend's husband who had been a Fleet Air Arm pilot was referrred to by my brother (an RAF pilot) as a penguin.



RE: RAF Slang
Author: BillWalker
Time Stamp:
11:16:06 22 May 2007
An old RCAF term, probably borrowed from the RAF, was "PBI" for the army. It stands for Poor Bloody Infantry, and is supposed to date back to the First World War.

Bill Walker

Canadian Military Aircraft Serial Numbers

RE: RAF Slang
Author: Rob Campbell (Guest)
Time Stamp:
18:42:50 25 May 2007
Aubrey et al, I asked my Dad about the poem and he tells me was not the author but rather it was composed by some other clever bod. Like the jokes passed around today by email these gems were circulated and often copied as keepsakes and or to pass the time. As for "fraiseno" and "arbeit" he thought "afraid there is no" would seem logical and agreed with the translation of arbeit but thought that it had a different meaning such as get over it.

Leave no stone unturned,


RE: RAF Slang
Author: Aubrey (Guest)
Time Stamp:
19:24:38 25 May 2007
Thank you Ann and Rob for your comments on "fraiseno" and "arbeit" which clear the air somewhat.

As regards Rob's Dad's thoughts regarding the latter, the much used "POR" springs to mind.

(Not Personnel Occurrence Report but Press On Regardless!)

RE: RAF Slang
Author: John (Guest)
Time Stamp:
23:13:33 25 May 2007

Penguin --Any Airman who didn't Fly

Snowdrop--Service Police referring to their white cap covers

Rockape-- A 1950's term for the RAF Regt.