Once they had enlisted, and contacts with the outside world were cut short, the Anzac troops quickly adopted a number of new words and expressions. Many of them reflect their daily lives in the Gallipoli trenches in such a characteristic way. What follows is just a small - and very incomplete - list of the more common ones. All of them can be found in diaries and interviews.
a nickname for a Turkish soldier. See also 'Jacko', Johnno' and 'Johnny Turk'.
Also used as a collective noun.
'Abdul did not seem to trust the situation and was pretty active in our sector.'
a member of the 1st Division
< nickname given by the 2nd Div. who thought they had joined for the adventure and nothing else
alf a mo
1. one moment, please
2. a tiny moustache
< "half a moment" and by analogy "half a moustache"
Anzac button, an
a nail used instead of a button to hold up one's trousers.
a shell hole full of water polluted by a corpse.
< probably of later origin in France
any improvised meal the troops managed to prepare from their monotonous rations.
e.g. a bucket of hot water with one rind of fat bacon in it
Anzac wafer, an
a hard biscuit. See 'rock-chewer'
upside down. Comparable to 'arse over head'.
other name for a Turkish broomstick bomb. See also there.
Used as a warning : ' Auntie coming over !'
< probably connotation of household character of the real thing
moustache of young recruits
< form (?) : | |
1. Australian (adj.)
2. An Australian soldier
3. A sufficiently severe injury to be shipped back to Australia.
Compare : the English equivalent 'a Blighty (wound)'
< abbrev. / diminut.
- (begging for) cigarettes / chocolate
- offering services as a guide etc.
a lot, a great number, a great amount
'We had bags of shrapnel on the beach last night.'
a shovel. 'Swinging the banjo' was used for digging.
'Banjo-swinging went on all night to fortify the newly-captured trench.'
base wallah, a
someone with a (relatively) safe job at base, far behind the front line.
one of the Turkish guns that regularly shelled the beach at Anzac.
a landing craft for 200 men
belly ache, a
a serious, often mortal wound
also used as a verb : 'He was always belly-aching about the food.'
< Arab (?)
General Birdwood who, according to the troops, was a 'decent enough bloke'
- a stretcher bearer
- a member of a raiding party, as they often had to try and bring in a prisoner for information
very, very ... , expressing a superlative quality of something. See also : 'boshter', 'bosker'.
very, very ... , expressing a superlative quality of something. See also : 'bonzer', 'bosker'.
very, very ... , expressing a superlative quality of something. See also : 'bonzer', 'boshter'.
no real meaning, used as interjection
< broken English of Arab street vendors who wanted to clean the soldiers' boots
brass, brass hat
nickname for higher officers
< insignia on cap and uniform
broomstick bomb, a
a Turkish contraption : a 4-inch cartridge filled with high explosive + metal scraps + percussion cap, on a 2 inch thick and 5 ft long stick.
(They) '...used to come soaring over the lines with a broomstick swaying on the end and burst with a noise like a thunderstruck battleship : if it fell close to a man, it was useless to pick up the pieces - there weren't any.'
Tinned beef, which (together with dry biscuits) formed the basis of rations at Gallipoli, as it was always available in abundance. It was hated by the troops, and not only for its monotony. After being stored for a length of time on the beaches in the hot Turkish climate, it all too often turned into a liquid mass of fat. A well-known trench story has it that when supplies were thrown across nomansland to the Turkish positions, a tin of bully came sailing back, together with a note on which was scribbled : 'cigarettes yes, bully beef no'.The only exception to the rule was perhaps 'Maconochie's', a brand of tinned beef that was appreciated by all for its superior quality.
The personal servant of an officer. A 'batman'.
to go or run away
< the smell, according to the troops
a louse. See also 'crab'.
remove lice and other vermin from one's clothing
Members of the 8th Brigade AIF that arrived in Egypt just after the Gallipoli campaign was over, and therefore did not take part in the fighting. This well-drilled brigade under Col. E. Tivey were afterwards referred to by the Gallipoli veterans as 'Tivey's Chocolate soldiers', 'Tivey's Chocs' or 'Tivey's Pets'.
a mate, a friend
coffin nail, a
a cigarette. See also : 'camel dung'.
someone reluctant to join the AIF, someone still living in Australia. Mostly used in plural form.
an obnoxious person (or thing for that matter) in whose company a 'dinkum' soldier would not be seen
a louse. Mostly used in plural form. See also 'chat'.
a Turkish handgrenade of that shape and size. Depending on the length of the fuse, it was often possible to hurl them back before they exploded in a trench.
< shape + the action of throwing
a battlefield souvenir, usually taken from a dead enemy. See also 'souvy'.
men belonging to reinforcements in the last stages of the campaign, often members of the 3rd Div.
See also : 'dinkums', 'chocs', 'cools'
< length of time needed to take the decision to join.
< 1916 France (!) and not from Hamilton's cable, as gererally believed < adopted by australians from N.Z. gum diggers. Common usage by 1917
real, original, vintage
dinkum Aussies / Fair Dinkums : volunteers, either men belonging to the first units that were formed mainly for the 1st Div., or -contrary to that- men belonging to the 2nd Div. who did not join 'for adventure'.
dinkum oil : true news
< name of trench publication in 1st Div. June-July 1915, to counteract 'spy-mania'
< anal.? with uncooked food issued to the troops
boiled eggs sold by Arab street vendors.
Later on, in Gallipoli it was used by the troops as a war-cry when going 'over the top'.
< Arab. street vendors
<abbrev. / found on uniforms
- a 10-gallon tank of water, used in pairs on mules
- a flat tank used for the carriage of water on camel back. One camel carried two of these.
a camp rumour
< Broadmeadows Camp (Melbourne) where the name 'Furphy Shepparton' was found on 'sanitary carts' that visited the camp, and therefore brought news from outside. Later the word was taken along to Egypt.
The Furphy engineering company made small water carts. The troops in the training camps would gather around these carts for a drink and exchange information. The stories or rumours that circulated became known as Furphies. Among other things, the company also manufactured a range of steel cooking pots, known as camp ovens, to cook stews, roast meat or bake bread.
Gallipoli gallop, the
diarrhoea cfr. also 'Turkey trot'
gawk (act), a
an exhausting 'stunt' (or small operation), that accomplished nothing else, as far as the troops could see
Egyptian. See also 'Gypo'
Lousing, the elimination of 'greybacks' soon became an important activity with all troops in and out of the lines.
self-made dish consisting of bully beef + biscuits + onion + water and salt, and then heated.
a piece of bad luck, a misfortune
Egyptian, and derived from that, also "to be gypt" (= to be conned)
(Johnny) Turk, also 'Johnno'
'We're among the wavin' date-palms, making Jacko Turkey-trot. And sincerest Xmas Greetings, from this gawd-forsaken spot.'
jam tin (bomb), a
crude bomb made from a jam tin filled with an explosive charge, metal scraps, lengths of barbed wire or empty cartridges, and then given a fuse. As the supply of bombs during the campaign was very insufficient, a 'factory' for the manufacturing of these 'jam tins' was established inside Anzac Cove.
the emu plumes at one side of a Light Horseman's hat, in fact a patch of emu hide with the feathers still attached. Among the Arabs, the Light Horsemen became known as 'the Kings of the Feathers'.
< a joke, to mislead English troops who asked what they were
< New Zealand bird (apteryx)
killed or wounded
lance corporal bacon
very fat bacon, with only one streak of lean running through it
< comparison to 1 stripe on uniform
lazy liz, a
a big shell fired by the battleship Queen Elisabeth and passing overhead with 'a lazy drone'.
< Liz, Lizzie, nickname for the Queen Elisabeth.
Linseed Lancers, the
Austr. Field Ambulance men
the battleship Queen Elisabeth
< anal. with Mena - ?
see 'bully beef'
< company name
finished, not available anymore
'When we finally reached the place, all eggs were mafeesh.'
never mind, it doesn't matter
Aussies did not have friends, they had 'mates'
Maxwell's pink-eyed bastards
The men of the 17th Battalion AIF, who were proud that none of them had taken part in the '2nd Battle of the Wozzer' and therefore got congratulations from the British Government in Egypt. When they landed in Gallipoli afterwards, this fact earned them their nickname.
Derived from quies(-kiteer). See there.
< derived from Arab
quartermaster responsible for batt. mules
< abbrev. of self-made : Officer Commanding Donkeys
information, news. See also 'Dinkum oil'.
< Arab. street vendors
killed, taken care of
The Gallipoli Peninsula
a firing position, but also a hole excavated in the side of a trench to rest
- very good, excellent
- ok, alright
British military police
a dry biscuit, responsible for many broken teeth and dentures, a problem that was even aggravated by the fact that originally there were no dentists (nor any instruments for dental surgery) with the medical services on Gallipoli
'I broke my dentures - my top plate - on an army biscuit. So then I had to manage these iron biscuits with only my bottom teeth. I used my entrenching tool to powder them as best I could.'
- later also used as a noun for an Egyptian.
'Saidas were not allowed within the confines of the camp.'
good day. See also 'saida'.
anything that was not regarded as a regular (firing) trench. A 'sap' could as well be a short part of a trench, branching off into nomansland for observation, as a big communication trench leading to the lines, as a shortcut between different trenches. Could also be used as a verb : 'The enemy were sapping towards the big crater in nomansland'.
'The Big Sap' was the big sea-side communication trench that connected Anzac Cove to the Outposts.'
short arm inspection
medical inspection of the privates' private parts to look for cases of VD, especially when still stationed in Egypt.
apart from the explosive, also used for the chicken peas that Australian POW's in Turkey sometimes found as an addition to their standard daily ration of boiled wheat.
six bob a day tourists
nickname for members of the 1st Division. See also 'dinkums', 'adventurers'.
a break for a cigarette
to shoot at the enemy from a hidden position.
'Sniping' soon became specialist work during the campaign, and was turned into fine art by a number of Australian marksmen to subdue the constant Turkish firing. In general, a 'sniper' worked together with a 'spotter' who was equipped with a trench periscope. Numerous diaries speak about man-to-man duels being fought out with Turkish colleagues.
'The troops manning Quinn's Post were continually being sniped on from the Chessboard.'
- to try and find battlefield trophies after an engagement
- to try and steal something useful, for instance from an army dump.
'After our spell in the trenches, we went souveniring for firewood.'
a battlefield trophy or souvenir, usually taken from a dead enemy. See also 'curio'.
< abbrev. 'souvenir'
seldom reaches destination
< Supply Reserve Depot, the inscription found on rum-jars
stay at home, a
(stay at homer)
someone reluctant to enlist. See also 'cool'
a corpse, a dead soldier
stiffs' paddock, a
originally a small-scale operation, involving a relatively small body of men, but later also used for bigger enterprises
'There is a big stunt on at Lone Pine this afternoon.'
also : to stoush
to fight, hit, kill or use violence in general.
'The Battle of the Wozzer was a good stouch.'
German airplane, used for reconaissance over the lines, but also capable of dropping explosive 'eggs'
< German : 'pigeon'
throw a seven, to
to get killed
< dicing, probably because with two dice a seven is the most common number to be thrown.
a member of the 1st Division. See 'six bob a day tourists'
Turkey trot, the
diarrhoea, also known as 'the trots', 'the runs'
See. also 'Gallipoli gallop'
a man, a person. See also 'a base wallah'
to acquire through some sort of trick or clever scheme.
'In addition to our biscuits, we sometimes managed to wangle a shapati from the Indian troops'.
'Me and my mate were living in the same wazzah.'
< deriv. from the 'Haret el Wasser', the red-light district in Cairo. See Wozzer.
german 77 mm shell
wind up, to have the -
to be scared
an English soldier
< their most common brand of cigarettes
Cairo's red-light district
< Haret el Wasser.
2 'battles' were fought there by drunk Australian and New Zealand troops, the first one on 2nd April (Good Friday) 1915 and the second one by the 2nd Div. some months later. On both occasions a lot of damage was done in the district : local people were molested, furniture thrown out of windows and even houses set on fire.
a casualty, a corpse, a ruined military vehicle
If you know about other words or expressions, feel free to send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Back to Contents