Glossary of terms
"All Safe": a signal, given by siren, to announce
that it is now safe to remove one's gas mask after a gas attack.
artillery: weapon used to fire very large
projectiles. Howitzers, guns and mortars are types of artillery.
Popularly known as cannons.
bayonet: steel blade, shaped like a short
sword, that is fixed at the end of a rifle and used for hand-to-hand combat.
billet: a place that is designated
for soldiers to receive food and shelter.
bully beef: from the French word boulli,
meaning boiled. Meat that is pickled or canned, usually corned beef.
communication wire: type of wire
used for establishing telephone connections between posts.
company: a unit of soldiers, normally consisting
of 100 men.
cocked: to "cock" a rifle means to draw
back the hammer to prepare it for firing.
decoration: a badge of honour, a medal
awarded for bravery.
duck-boards: floor sections made of
wooden slats which can be laid on wet, muddy or cold surfaces.
dugout: shelter dug on the side of a trench,
in the ground, used as living quarters, for storage of supplies or for
Duke of Wellington: famous British
military figure of the early nineteenth century. Reknowned for his
military victories as well as for the harsh discipline he imposed on his
firesteps: narrow ledge, located inside
a trench, that allows soldiers to see over the parapet.
Fritz: nickname used by Allied soldiers to
gas mask: cloth and/or rubber mask connected
to an air filter and used to protect the face and lungs from poison gases.
HQ: short form for "Headquarters"; a place from
which military commanders perform their duties.
home leave: permission given to soldiers
to go home for an extended period of time.
Jerry: nickname used by Allied soldiers to
Kaiser: German word meaning "emperor".
During the First World War, the Kaiser of Germany was Wilhelm II.
lice: plural form of "louse"; a small, flat,
wingless insect that lives off the blood of its host.
lip: as in "crater's lip"; the edge of a large
lollygagging: to waste time.
mortar: a type of cannon used to fire projectiles
at high angles.
No Man's Land: the narrow, muddy, treeless
stretch of land, caracterised by numerous shell holes, that seperated German
and Allied trenches during the First World War. Being in No Man's
Land was considered very dangerous since it offered little or no protection
parapet: the inner wall of a trench, made
of earth and wood and topped with sandbags, to protect soldiers.
platoon: a unit of soldiers, normally consisting
of 50 men.
poison gas: type of gas which gives off
a poisonous vapour, designed to kill, injure or disable a soldier by inhalation
puttees: cloth strip made of wool and wrapped
around the leg, from ankle to knee, to prevent trousers from being torn
sap: a tunnel within a trench, dug to a point
beneath the enemy's trenches.
sector: a portion or division of a large
sniper: a soldier, armed with a rifle and
usually well hidden, who shoots at exposed individuals of an enemy's forces.
"Stand Down": permission given to soldiers
to leave their defensive positions when an attack by the enemy is deemed
stick grenade: German hand grenade;
small, metal container, attached to a stick, which explodes after it is
Tommy: nickname used by German soldiers to
describe British (and Canadian) soldiers.
trench: a long, deep and narrow hole in
the ground, with the earth thrown up in front, dug to protect soldiers
from bullets and other projectiles.
webbing: a type of military back-pack,
made of sturdy canvas and containing numerous pouches for carrying the
ammunition, water bottle, bayonet, food, clothing and personal belongings
of a soldier.
Western Front: the area of military
operations during the First World War which ran from Belgium, through northern
France, and to the Swiss border.
work detail: a specific task assigned
to an individual or group, usually entailing physical labour.