Australian Digger Slang – World War II

– M –

MACAROON

a new recruit (RAN)

MALAYAN MADNESS

a non-existent and fanciful disease contracted by troops in tropical areas

MALTESE HOLIDAY

a heavy air raid

MANDRAKES

waterproof capes worn by men on tropical service (AIF)

MANNY

a combination of dagger and knuckle-duster

MATAPAN STEW

RAN term for a stew made of a multiplicity of odds and ends in the way of meat and vegetables. Working under fire, the cooks of HMAS Perth first made “Matapan Stew” on March 28, 1941.

MENZIES’ MANNEQUINS

men of the RAAF (AIF)

MOLLY

a malingerer (RAN)

MUCKO

a sailor (RAN)

MUM

assistant to DAD (Deputy Assistant Director)


– N –

NERVE WAR

grousing or complaining to get things done

NIP

Japanese, from “Nippon”

NORTHERN RIVERS

to be sick after drinking a lot of alcohol

NUDGED

(of a ship) slightly damaged by bomb or torpedo (RAN)


– O –

ODDS-AND-SODS

men not attached to a particular unit

ON THE BUGLE

something objectionable

ON THE NOSE

bad food; something objectionable (AIF)

ON THE TRUMPET

something objectionable


– P –

PANIC HAT

steel helmet

PAPER WAR

army red tape; departmental files, etc.

PERSPIRATOR

gas mask

PLANE WRECKERS

riggers (RAAF)

PONGO

an infantryman

POOR SHOW

to make a mistake, or do something badly (AWAS)

PROJIE

a projectile (RAN)

PROMOTE

to borrow or scrounge something

PUCKA THROAT

throat complaint among soldiers in camp in Victoria

PUMP PACKING

appointment

PUT THE FANGS IN

request a temporary load from a more affluent comrade


– R –

REDBANK THROAT

throat complaint among soldiers in camp in Queensland

REINSTOUSHMENTS

reinforcements

RETREAD

a soldier of World War I who joined up again

RINGER

an officer (RAN)

ROOKIE

new chum doing rifle drill (RAAF)

ROUSEABOUTS

ground staff (RAAF)


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– S –

SALON

officer’s mess

SAND HAPPY

fed up with desert surroundings (AIF)

SANDGROPER

a Western Australia

SANDSCRATCHER

a Western Australia

SCRAN

food (WAAAF)

SCREED

any memorandum or printed instructions

SCREW

warder

SHANGHAI BALLAST

rice (AIF)

SHARKBAIT

an NCO or officer who has not quite made the grade so far as the boys are concerned

SHELLBACK

an armoured car (AIF)

SHOT DOWN IN FLAMES

reprimanded, or crossed in love (WAAAF)

SIMON

Company Sergeat Major (alledged abbreviation of “Simon Legree”)

SINGAPORE KNIFE

a special kind of kitchen knife by RAN cooks

SKIPPERS

a special kind of kitchen knife used by RAN cooks

SKITTERBUG

army captains

SLUCHIES

a Bren gun carrier (AIF)

SNAGS / SNORKERS

cooks (RAAF)

SNAKE-PIT

sausages (AIF)

SNARLER

sergeants’ mess

SNATCH YOUR TIME

resign from the army or threaten to leave

SPARK HEAVER

having a rest; loafing

SPINE BASHING

having a rest; loafing; tent relaxation

SPUD BARBERS

cookhouse fatigue (RAAF)

SQUEAK

sergeants’ mess

STEW

a framed case

STEWKEEPER

army cook

STRAY

a sausage (RAN)

SUGAR BABY

a Militiaman


– T –

TAKE A POOR VIEW OF IT

to make a mistake, or to do something badly (WAAAF)

TASWEGIAN

a Tasmanian sailor (RAN)

TAXI DRIVER

pilot (RAAF)

TEE-UP

make arrangements

THANK GOODNESS WE’VE GOT A NAVY!

ribbing given by AIF men when watching camp-mates marching past

THE CORNER

Garden Island Naval Prison, Sydney (RAN)

THE TRUMP

commanding officer

THREE A’S

Tasmanian

TIN-OPENER

bayonet

TO ACT WET

to behave stupidly (RAN)

TO AIR-BASH

to gossip or talk

TO BAT THE BREEZE

to gossip or talk

TO GO THROUGH

to go AWL (absent without leave)

TO HAVE ITIES’ GUTES

to be cowardly (RAN)

TO KEEP YOW

to act as an observer (RAAF)

TO THROW BRICKS

to fire shells (RAN)

TOBRUK FERRY

the name given to the Australian destroyers running from Alexandria, Egypt, to Tobruk during the historic Tobruk siege

TOFFY-WOFFIES

officers

TROPICAL NEUASTHENIA

tropical disease

TROPPO

tropical disease

TWO-BOB

a blonde


– U –

UNDERGROUND MUTTON

rabbit (AIF)

UP THE ALLEY!

a boisterous greeting (AIF)

UPPERS

loagers (RAN)


– W –

WAUSSIE

a service-woman

WINGER

a cobber, comrade (RAN)

WOG

an Arab

WOOD BUTCHERS

carpenter-riggers (RAAF)

WOODSIDE THROAT

throat complaint among soldiers in camp in South Australia

“WOULDN’T IT ____”

expression of disgust, amazement, pleasure (AIF)


– Y –

YIKE

a dogfight

YOU WOULDN’T READ ABOUT IT IN BOOKS

an assurance to keep silent


Sources:

  1. Our War-Time Slang, Murrumburrah Signal and County of Harden Advocate (NSW), 23 January 1941, p. 2.
  2. The “Doovah” Can Mean Anything, The Independent (Deniliquin), 23 December 1941, p. 4.
  3. “Vivid War Slang”, Sunday Mail (Brisbane), 12 July 1942, p. 6.
  4. It is Changing Rapidly: Slang of Our Fighting Forces, The Australasian (Melbourne), 29 August 1942), p. 23.
  5. You Tell a WAAAF by Her Slang, The Evening Advocate (Innisfail), 11 August 1943, p. 2.
  6. The Lingo, The Northern Champion (Taree), 21 June 1944, p. 3.
  7. Soldier Slang Puzzles Judge, The Evening Advocate (Innisfail), 25 January 1945, p. 7.

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