hosted by 207 Squadron Royal Air Force History


last updated: 4 Apr 2010

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Editor: Frank Haslam
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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
- 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
- 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
- Betelgeux, bright red star which with Sirius and Procyon form an equilateral triangle
Belinda - frequent nickname of barrage ballons
(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-Gerät 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)
Bondu - expanse of land that we yomped across (RAF Regt)
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-Gerät 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
- 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
- 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)
- a person whose intelligence should be questioned
club - propeller
clueless - be ignorant of something
- 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-Gerät 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"
Düppel - 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)
- an autogyro
- 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 -
- heavy anti aircraft fire
- (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
- Medium-range radio aid to navigation equipment employing ground transmitters and airborne receiver
Giant Würzburg - 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 (when referring to undercarriage instrumentation) green lights referring to the retractable undercarriage legs, red lights indicate legs moving between up/locked and down/locked. When all up and locked there are no lights showing (makes bulbs last longer, most old indicators had two sets of green lamps switchable to cater for a blown bulb)
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
High Tea
- 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
- 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
Meatbox - early versions of the Gloster Meteor, implied reference to coffin
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

- 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."
Oggin -sea, ocean
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
Pebble Monkeys - trainee Rock Apes
peel off (to) - break formation to engage enemy
penguin - for ground officers with no operational experience: for mebers of the RAF Regiment (Rock Apes) a Penguin was anyone who wore a Blue uniform
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
Plastic Sgt - newly unsubstantive Sgt Aircrew
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
Pond life - lowest of the low
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 - RAF ones flash red, Civil ones flash green

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
Rodney(s) - officers of any rank RAF Regt
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 Schräge Musik attacks, but less easy to explain in daylight reports.
scarlet slugs - Bofors tracer fire
schooly - Education Officer
Schräge Musik - devastatingly successful upward firing gun fighter attack using tracerless ammunition against bombers used by expert Luftwaffe pilots, used in WWI by Albert Ball
Scopie - Air Traffic Controller
- 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)
shit - 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
Snow Drops - RAF/Military Police
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: (rude: a WRAF)
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
- 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
- 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"
- out of control, losing height; or cruising along unconcernedly and indecisively
- chap or fellow
- beer
- 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
Würzburg - German radar used to direct A.A. guns, searchlights, and briefly, night fighters

X-Gerät - German bombing aid

Y-control - method of controlling night fighters using modified Y-Gerät equipment
Y-Gerät - 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

Sources: publications

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:

A pilot on 27 Sqn
Alan Cooper, author
Alan Mawby
Bob Milne, Surrey ACA
Charles Haywood.
RAF Elect Fitt Air 1960-73
David Bell
Garrie Smith
Sally Kay Moat
Tony Pay