Does anyone know the origin of this phrase? Also does it apply to specific pieces of kit? You hear it all the time, but no-one seems to know exactly what it means! apart from a vague 'get your arse in gear, let's go'.
Some pedant once told me that 'monkeys' refers to backpacks and 'parrots' are rifles. There are supposed to be reasons for both names; maybe its because the 'monkey' rides on your back and I think that 'Parrett' might possibly have been a make of rifle. Some spotter might know.
Hope this helps,
Pick Up Your Parrots and Monkeys...
The life of a Boy Soldier in India
A vivid and colourful story of a boy soldier in India: a coming-of-age story with horse artillery
'Pick up your parrots and monkeys, and fall in facing the boat' was the traditional last order given to a detachment of British soldiers heading home from India. William Pennington heard it from the 'old salts' he met on the docks as he arrived in India at the age of 15. Enlisted as a 'boy soldier', a bugler in the horse artillery, he served in the 1930s when the British Army in India was little changed from that described by Kipling. Pennington's compelling description of army life in the last days of the Raj is followed by an equally moving account of his experiences in the Burma campaign. Promoted from the ranks, he fought the Japanese as an artillery officer, specialising in forward observation: the most dangerous job in the jungle.