Discuss Origins of Military sayings in The NAAFI Bar on The Army Rumour Service; Originally Posted by ringdoby
I once found a link to the phrase "sweet smell of success" and it had been attributed it to Napoleon.
After winning a battle and the stumpy one needing some R&R, ...
"Give them the whole 9 yards", apparently refers to the 27 feet length of the mk1 Vickers machine gun belt.
Just added a word.
If that's true it's a fcuking classic bit of gen. Sounds convincing anyway.
A few Navy sayings: Devil to pay - refers to 'paying' small stuff (bits of hemp rope) into the decking joint (seam) outside of the gunwhale. It was the hardest seam to do hence the name. This would be followed up with hot tar (pitch) to seal it.
"You'll have the devil to pay" is a warning that you'd better behave or you'll get the shitty job. 'Between the devil and the deep blue sea' refers to the same thing as you've be suspended over the side to do the job - so you'd be between the 'devil' and the sea.
A similar saying is "Having the devil to pay with no pitch hot" meaning that you'd have to get back over the side to get more hot pitch to pour into the seam after paying it with small stuff. Square meal refers to the square wooden trays used as plates in Navy ships. On the dole refers to the Killick (senior man) at the end of each table who doled out the food rations. Swinging the lead refers to the man who sounded for depth in shallow water missing a drop when he was tired - he would pretend to drop it all the way to the seabed and shout out a sounding of depth somewhere near to what they had been getting but in this case he wouldn't have to wind it all the way back up to drop it again - the lead would be swinging instead of hitting the bottom.
There are loads of sayings that originated in the Andrew.
Freeze the balls of a brass monkey. Naval term. Cast iron cannon balls were stacked next to the guns. To keep them in place, they were stacked on a brass triangle (brass monkey) this would stop them rolling about.
In cold weather, the metals would contract at different rates and the balls would come off the brass monkey.
Growing old is mandatory, growing wise is optional
Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes. Vel vos utor Google
the phrase is actually first recorded as 'freeze the tail off a brass monkey', which removes any essential connection with balls
Among others that I am too lazy to post.
Anyone know where "Screw the Bobbin" came from?
Yes......yes I do
The bobbin in this phrase refers to the small boy who was required to climb inside seige mortars used in various battles around the late 16th early 17th centuries. After repeated firing these enormous weapons (some had a diameter of 50-100 inces) would become heavily fouled and the projectile would not seat correctly in the breach or there would remain a smouldering residue in the seat of the weapon which meant that it could not be reloaded. Lads who were serving as Drummers but proved to be rubbish at drummering were seconded to the Mortar platoons of there day and served as what became affectionatley known as 'bobbins'(It's debated by etymologists that this was from 'bobbing' in and out of the mortars to clean them). If the mortar crew had had a particularly bad day on the battlefield it was not unormal for them to try and cheer themselves and their comrades up. The following was taking from a diary dated 1724.
"What a shite daye. We have spente nearly all our shotte at the forte and have only managed to knock the cockrele off the garrison churche. The Captain went spastic on us and we have all been flogged for our errors. The Corporal sat us all down after Naafi Breake and told us that we had to knuckle down and screwe the bobbin. We did this with much gusto and I even spunked on his face"