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Tommy C and D I “Yankee” N and O I German T, U and V
CCamel to Consumer Gift cigarettes sent from South Africa to troops in North Africa and later Italy. The packages were inscribed with ‘C to C’, which actually stood for ‘Cape to Cairo’. ‘Camel’ implied the draggingly slow mode of delivery. came up with the rations Said of easily won medals, especially campaign –‘they just sent them up with the rations’. Camp Comedian Camp Commandant. cannon fodder Troops who were quite unreasonably expected to follow orders and as Tennyson’s poem says, ‘... not to reason why, ... just to do and die’. It specifically referred to infantry and other combat troops. Canuck A Canadian. cap badge A soldier ordered to report to the commanding officer on charges. Derived from meekly carrying his cap in hand, as required when reporting indoors. caravan Clumsy unarmoured truck-like command-vehicle described as a caravan-office lorry. carry the can To take responsibility for one’s own or another’s actions. To do the job assigned to someone else shirking the duty. See ‘Joe Soap’ and ‘pass the can’. castor Good, okay. (Australian) cat stabber Issue clasp knife, with a knife blade, marlin spike, screwdriver, and tin- and bottle-openers. Also ‘jack knife’. catch a packet/dose To contract the dreaded VD. category man Soldier who has been assessed by a medical officer (MO), judged unfit for combat duty, and reassigned to services. Chad A graffiti character complaining of shortages. Originally ‘Mr. Chad’. chagal Canvas water bag used to carry water supplies in the Far East. It was shaped like a goat-skin and the contents were evaporation cooled. (Australian/Indian Army) chap A fellow, friend. Often considered a higher class than a ‘bloke’. A practice influenced by Public Schools usage, but not limited to that class; a fellow who is ‘one of us’, ‘of our class’. Generally more applicable to officers than humbler soldiers. Chapplies Comfortable leather studded sandals worn by Indian Regiments. One pair was issued in lieu of boots. They allowed sand to fall out and feet to dry. To make sure all toes were retained, extra socks were worn in snowy conditions. Char Tea. Indian units pronounced it ‘chai’. From the Chinese te chi, from which both ‘tea’ and ‘char’ are derived. Char is also the numeral ‘4’ in Urdu/Hindustani. charpoy-bashing Siesta, a favourite leisure activity of the British troops in the Middle and Far East. A charpoy is an Indian word for a bed made from a wooden frame and string cord. It could also be made of bamboo poles and slats. chatsby Substitute word for an unremembered technical word or mechanical part. Also ‘thingamajig’ or ‘doo-hickey’. Chelo! ‘Move out!’ ‘Get a move on!’ cheval de frise The name of a medieval defensive obstacle, given to a portable wooden framework entwined with barbed wire. Also ‘knife rest’ or ‘Spanish rider’. chew the rag/fat Excessive talking
.Chicago piano Multi-barrel anti-aircraft guns chi chi Red tape, fuss and bother, from the French slang. Also used to denote the sing-song voice of a person of mixed race in India. China Mate, companion. So named because of the Cockney rhyming slang for mate – ‘china plate’ Chindits Deep-penetration brigades under Major-General Orde C. Wingate (1903–44) operating behind Japanese lines in Burma. The Chindit was a mythical Burmese beast (Chinthé) that guarded temples, half-lion, half-eagle. Also ‘The Chief’s Private Army’, the ‘Chief’ being Field-Marshal Lord Wavell, (see ‘Archie’), Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Burma until August 1943. Chinese attack Deception operation with a great deal of noise and activity, misleading the enemy into believing an attack was underway and to distract his attention from preparations for the actual attack. chocko or choco Australian conscripted soldiers and militiamen who could not serve outside of Australia or its territories before 1943. The term is derived from ‘chocolate soldier’ owing to their dark khaki brown uniforms. See also ‘koalas’ and ‘weekend warriors’. chook Powdered eggs, ‘chuff’. chopped Dramatically and gruesomely killed, especially if by machine-gun fire. Christmas tree order Full equipment. An infantryman decked out likean elaborate Christmas tree. Chum A block-head, a silly fool. ‘Off his chump’ – out of his mind, stupid. Civvy Street Civilian life. Refers to an individual’s pre-military service life. clean fatigue Work dress. clewing up Making contact, linking up, conducting liaison (coordinating), giving a briefing. Derived from ‘clue’. clifty To steal. (New Zealand) clifty wallah Clever, shrewd fellow. Clink Guard-room, ‘hutch’. Prison, ‘jug’. clockwork mouse or mice An obviously powerful James ML lightweight motorcycle used by airborne troops. coal box Black smoke detonations of high-explosive shells. Looked like a coal box had been dropped. coal scuttle helmet German steel helmets, owing to their similarity to a coal scuttle. cobber Mate, pal, close companion. (Australian) cock Nonsense, bull. cock it up Complete mess, blunder, as in ‘He’s made a cock-up of it’. Not to be confused with ‘crock up’, a nervous breakdown, although one might lead to the other. Derived from beer making – if the batch went bad they turned the cock (tap) up to drain the barrel column snake Single-file formation in dense jungle or on broken ground. combined operations A military slant on a love affair or marriage which stems from the term for operations involving all three services. Come up! Meaning to ‘come up’ on the promotion list by putting in some service time to gain seniority. compassionate Compassionate leave granted on death of a next of kin or for other serious reasons. compo ration The composition ration fed 14 men three meals for one day. There was also a Pacific compo ration for six men. (The term was also used by US troops, as compos were issued to them in North Africa.) conchie Conscientious objector, ‘Cuthbert’. One objecting to military service on religious grounds. con depot Convalescent depot where wounded and ill troops recovered. cookhouse Kitchen. cookhouse fatigue Kitchen duty. cookie Section or crew member who was adept at cooking, and was punished with the task of preparing meals. cooler Guard-room, cell, ‘moosh’, ‘mush’. cordex Detonating cord, primacord. Instantaneous detonating explosive cord similar in appearance to safety fuse. Used to link demolition charges together for simultaneous detonation. corkscrew Steel barbed-wire picket post with a corkscrew-like end, allowing it to be quietly twisted into the ground rather than hammered in. corp Corporal, ‘two striper’. crack Move out fast. ‘Get cracking!’ ‘Get moving!’ crash action An emergency technique for rapidly getting artillery into action, taking shortcuts around the regular action stations drill. creepers Lightweight, and very stealthy, suede leather shoes with crepe rubber soles worn on desert night patrols. Also ‘brothel creepers’ or ‘desert boots’. Officers had them custom-made in Cairo. crib Complain. ‘To crib’. crime Misdemeanour offence against regulations. To be put on a ‘fizzer’ (charge) was be ‘crimed’. crime sheet A record of an individual’s charges and punishments. croaker Medical officer, the term having a casualty-troubling connection with ‘croak’ – die. Also, and far more reassuring, ‘Doc’ or ‘medico’. Cross Cocktail A 40mm cartridge case filled with explosives and fitted with a Mills bomb fuse. Developed by Sergeant A. Cross to attack pillboxes in Italy. cushy Soft, easy assignment. From the Hindustani kjush (pleasure).