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Frequently Asked Questions, 251 to 300

Frequently asked questions 251 to 300

  1. Who was "Foo"? 
  2. Who/what was Chad?
  3. What is an Alice pack?
  4. Did soldiers of WW1 believe that it was "the war to end all wars"?
  5. Did soldiers of WW1 believe that it was all a bit of a lark and an adventure?
  6. Are Australians warlike?
  7. What are "Bombay Bloomers"?
  8. Why does the army say things backwards?
  9. What is the difference between 'machine gun', 'sub-machine gun'  and 'machine carbine'?
  10. What is an "automatic rifle"?
  11. What is a "gas operated rifle"?
  12. Where did the bayonet get it's name?
  13. What is "Pucka"?
  14. My Dad served with the PBI. I can't find a reference to that Unit. What was it?
  15. In NZ the poppy is an Anzac Day icon. In Aus it is a Remembrance Day icon. Why?
  16. Why were rifles called 303s?
  17. If the Lee Enfield had a "short magazine" what was a "long magazine"?
  18. What was K Force?
  19. Was it common to have brothers serve at Gallipoli?
  20. Do you have all the statistics on WW1?
  21. What is a Field Marshal's Baton?
  22. What is a dixie?
  23. What is "dixie bashing"?
  24. What were the New Zealand Regimental Numbers of WW1?
  25. What was "trench fever"?
  26. When did Diggers have a bath in WW1?
  27. I have heard that soldiers have to shave every day. Is that true?
  28. Do Navy & Air Force have to shave?
  29. In the Ode is the correct word "contemn" or "condemn"?
  30. What did entering the army include?
  31. What is "short sheeting" my Grandad talks about?
  32. Does the army insist that you make your own bed?
  33. How long does it take to dig a trench?
  34. Why are so many Gallipoli graves "unidentified"?
  35. Was Gallipoli mainly an Australian battle?
  36. What was "a marmalade"?
  37. What ships took part in moving the AIF/NZEF to Egypt?
  38. I have books that say the Anzacs landed at Gaba Tepe. Why do you say otherwise?
  39. What do other countries think of Australian troops?
  40. Is Saint George & the Dragon only associated with English military heraldry?
  41. What is a "horse-holder"?
  42. Why isn't there more NZ stuff on your site
  43. What does it mean to "Advance in Review Order"?
  44. Is it true that a VC winner is to be saluted by all ranks?
  45. Why was Germany so keen to have WW2 after the horrors of WW1?
  46. What is the meaning of "windy" or "Having the wind up?"
  47. What is an "accidental discharge"?
  48. Why do American junior Officers get gold insignia & seniors get silver?
  49. Which is correct pronunciation, "Loo-tenant" or "Lef-tenant"?
  50. Where did Australian soldiers serve in WW2?

Who was "Foo"? 
In WW1 Foo was a mythical and mysterious little "man" who turned up nearly everywhere (especially where there was a bit of nonsense going on). 

He was shown (usually) as a little bald headed man peering over a stone wall, with the simple inscription "Foo was here".

He was chalked on the side of railway carriages, appeared in probably every camp that the 1st AIF served in and generally made his presence felt.

 He reappeared in WW2. Later in WW2 (particularly with RAAF) he took on a more devilish appearance.

Of course we're sure that you once knew 

A bit of a lad by the name of "Foo". 

He's the joker who's been on the ramp, 

And written his name in every camp.

 But now his scheming's all come to naught, 

For as you see Foo has been caught. 

How he was caught is not quite clear, 

But it was in a "Waaafery", 

or there quite near. 

Ah ! But this is no time to sing and shout 

For Foo has just this minute got out, 

And just as one would expect to find, 

Foo has gone and left his card behind!

Click to visit Kilroy


  • In WW2 the Yanks "pinched" the basic idea of Foo, renamed him "Kilroy" and helped spread him around the world.
  • Foo was not worried, he took it in good spirit and in the best traditions of good Allies working together.
  • Unlike Foo who specialised in appearing on buildings, railway carriages & such-like, Kilroy "peeks out of pockets and necklines, from behind lapels and neckties, over lampshades, picture frames, etc." 
  • The picture (left) shows Kilroy in a man's pocket, over his lapel and behind a tie. He is also peeking over the neckline of a woman's dress. Below is his more normal image as chalked by the GIs.
WWII Kilroy Was Here legends
There was one person who led or participated in every combat, training or occupation operation during WW II and the Korean War. This person could always be depended on. GI's began to consider him the "super GI." He was one who always got there first or who was always there when they left. I am, of course, referring to "Kilroy". Somehow, this simple graffiti "Kilroy Was Here" captured the imagination of GI's everywhere they went. The scribbled cartoon face and words showed up everywhere - worldwide.
  • It is reported at Kilroy has gone to the moon. Apparently he must have snuck onto a moon-lander because "Kilroy Was Here" is recorded in the dust of the moon.
Who/what was Chad?

Chad was an ubiquitous piece of popular culture graffiti often seen in the United Kingdom during and shortly after World War II. It was an extension of the Foo/Kilroy character.

WWII Kilroy Was Here legends

The graffiti consisted of a cartoon of a small, round head with a long nose poking over the top of a wall, with a complaint about shortages written underneath.

It was widely in use by the late part of the war and in the immediate post-war years, with slogans ranging from the simple "What, no bread?" or "Wot, no char?" to the plaintive.

One sighting, on the side of a British 1st Airborne Division glider in Operation Market Garden, had the complaint "Wot, no engines?"

As rationing became less common, so did the joke; while the cartoon is occasionally sighted today as "Kilroy", "Chad" and his complaints have long fallen from popular use.

Partly from ""

What is an Alice pack?

ALICE pack. Officially (All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment, previously called webbing). Originally an American term for the webbing, "Alice" became common usage in the Australian Army for the metal frame that carries the equipment a Digger humps through the scrub. I don't think it was ever an officially recognised term for the metal frame.

Did soldiers of WW1 believe that it was "the war to end all wars"?

No. That is a fallacy that started well after the war. H G Wells wrote a book in 1914 called "The war that will end war". It is one of his lesser works and apart from the name is almost forgotten.

Wells soon turned his attention to inflammatory and often contradictory politics. He preached Socialism whenever he could, though he later rejected it; he stood for women's rights and abortion while he cheated on his wives; he was a staunch supporter of World War I, calling it "The War That Will End War," but found the war-ravaged world he departed in 1946 more horrifying than any of his fictions.

US President Woodrow Wilson used the term in a speech in 1917. It was a term that came into common usage post war and usually in a derogatory or anti-war sense.

Did soldiers of WW1 believe that it was all a bit of a lark and an adventure?

No. Another fallacy. It is possible (even probable) that the first blokes to join the AIF did so with little understanding of what was to follow and did so with a false impression of quick victory and glory for all. However it is impossible to believe that the later recruits, who having read the casualty lists from Gallipoli, Fromelles and other early battles could have been under any mis-apprehension about the serious nature of the task. 

They knew what the difficulties were, and the risks. This is indicated by the fact that as the war dragged on and the "butcher's bill" got higher so too was there was a lessening of the numbers of eager recruits. These were the blokes called "Fair Dinkums" because if they enlisted even after seeing the casualty lists they must be "fair dinkum". Sydney Milgate (below) is but one example.

Fred Milgate went ashore at ANZAC with the 7th Battalion. He was last seen in the afternoon of the first day and is believed to have been killed during a Turkish counter-attack. He was 21. 

His younger brother Sydney enlisted not long after receiving news of Fred’s death; he served on the Western Front and was killed in Belgium in 1917. AWM H06088


Are Australians warlike?

No. Can I say to the world that we Australians and our sometimes forgotten trans-Tasman cousins the New Zealanders do not make wars. We are a peace loving pair of nations. We would much rather play cricket or football, go fishing, have a cold beer and a hot steak off the BBQ. Anything but make war.

However, once put in a position where we have to fight we borrow from the 42nd Battalion AIF, their Unit motto CEDE NULLIS (Yield to none)

What are "Bombay Bloomers"?

This was a nickname for Army issue shorts as worn in tropical postings. 

The design was based on a British pattern with long and wide legs.

The British Army has done many magnificent things but they are not famous for their fashion sense.


Why does the army say things backwards?

To avoid confusion. Lets take the slouch hat for example. If you list it as a "khaki fur felt hat" you need to read the entire name before you know that you are talking about a hat and that it should be classified with other hats, not with khakis (or car-keys), furs, or felts.

If you list it as a "hat khaki fur felt" it is immediately obvious that you are talking about a hat, that it should be listed and classified with other hats and the less important details follow the main classification.

While this might seem pointless in isolation it is vital when you consider the thousands of items that an army uses and needs to keep track of.

What is the difference between 'machine gun', sub-machine gun and 'machine carbine'?
A carbine is a lighter, shorter version of a rifle, usually single shot in the context of WW1 or WW2. Machine guns are the full size, fully automatic fire guns like the Maxim, the Vickers, the Lewis and more recently the GPMG M60. 

Machine carbines are the smaller, lighter weapons like the Thompson, the Sten and the Owen. However the names 'sub-machine gun' and 'machine carbine' have now become almost interchangeable with common usage.

Image from an original WW2  British Army Infantry Training Manual (Pamphlet Vol 1 No 21, 1944) on the  Machine Carbine which covers the Sten and Thompson. Dated 1944.

What is an "automatic rifle"?

A rifle that is capable of reloading itself after each round and firing another round, automatically. Originally rifles were 'single shot', that is, manually reloaded after every shot fired. They were replaced by rifles that were 'self loading'. That means that after each shot the rifle reloads but does not fire again until the trigger is depressed again. Automatic is a self loading rifle that automatically fires another round and continues to do so automatically while the trigger is depressed and unused rounds remain in the magazine.

What is a "gas operated rifle"?

Most self loading and automatic weapons are gas operated. They use some of the gas created by the explosion of the propellant in the round to reload the rifle. To do that the gas is used, before the round exits the barrel, to push a spring loaded rod back up a shaft to operate the shell ejection and re-loading mechanism. 

Some machine carbines use the back lash from the detonation of the propellant in the round to force the mechanism back against a spring which then returns it to the firing position, reloading another round as it does so. This is not considered gas operated.

Where did the bayonet get it's name?

Bayonets were first used in Bayonne in 1641. Supposedly, during a battle the soldiers ran out of ammunition, stuck knives into the muzzles of their guns and charged the enemy.

What is "Pucka"?
It is the slang name for Puckapunyal, one of the oldest and most important Army bases in Australia. Refer map for location.

This should not be confused with "pukka", which is a British Army word for "well presented" or "top notch". Sometimes used in a derogatory way against a foppish, English upper class type who had little respect or time for the "rankers".

Image from RAAC Museum      

map to puckapunyal
My Dad served with the P.B.I. I can't find a reference to that Unit. What was it?

P.B.I is British and Australian Army slang for "Poor Bloody Infantry". Many, many times over the years the really dirty jobs, the "last stands", the "Save The Nation" type jobs are handed to the only people who can do it. The Infantry. Naval power is wonderful. Air support is great. The Gunners and the Ginger Beers, the cooks and the cleaners, the suppliers and the supporters, the planners and power brokers, the politicians and the pundits all have their place. But when push comes to shove and the bullets are going both ways, when there is a nasty little (or major) job on and and there is some dying to be done up the Infantry... the poor bloody Infantry.

In NZ the poppy is an Anzac Day icon. In Aus it is a Remembrance Day icon. Why?
Headstone for New Zealand soldier A French woman who was about to promote the poppy — as a symbol of remembrance — throughout the world, Madame E. Guérin, conceived the idea of widows manufacturing artificial poppies in the devastated areas of Northern France which then could be sold by veterans' organisations worldwide for their own veterans and dependants as well as the benefit of destitute French children. 

Throughout 1920-21, Guérin and her representatives approached veteran organisations' in the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and urged them to adopt the poppy as a symbol of remembrance.

One of Guérin's representatives, Colonel Alfred Moffatt, came to put the poppy initiative to the New Zealand Returned Solders' Association (as the RNZRSA was originally known) in September 1921 and an order for some 350,000 small and 16,000 large silk poppies was duly placed with Madame Guérin's French Children's League.

In common with veteran's organisations in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, the RSA had intended to hold its inaugural Poppy Appeal in association with Armistice Day 1921 (11 November 1921). However, the ship carrying the poppies from France arrived in New Zealand too late for the scheme to be properly publicised prior to Armistice Day, thereby forcing the RSA to postpone its Poppy Campaign until the day prior to ANZAC Day 1922. Thus Poppy Day, as it was immediately known, became uniquely associated with ANZAC Day, whereas in Australia, as with the United Kingdom and Canada, the appeal continued to be associated with Armistice Day (Remembrance Day).

In all, 245,059 small poppies were sold for 1 shilling each and 15,157 larger versions of the flower attracted two shillings each, netting the national association, after all expenses, £13,166. Of that sum, £3,695 was sent to French Children's League to help alleviate distress in the war-ravaged areas of Northern France. The remainder was used by the RSA to assist unemployed returned soldiers in need, and their families, during the winter of 1922.

Dr Stephen Clarke, Historian
Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association.
Why were rifles called 303s?

It was from the size of the bullet they fired. They were .303 (point three zero three) of 1 inch. By comparison the 7.62 millimetre rounds used later were .308. For the full story go to The .303 Rifle including Lee Enfield

If the Lee Enfield had a "short magazine" what was a "long magazine"?

This is a common misconception. The word "short" refers to the rifle, not the magazine. To quote an expert........."was unveiled in 1903 as the "Rifle, Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield, Mark 1", the famous S.M.L.E. It took me quite some time to realise that, with the somewhat awkward, back-to-front nomenclature of British ordnance, the word "short" designation referred to the rifle, not the magazine!

Whereas the magazine had the same dimensions as before, the rifle was indeed shorter than its predecessor. The idea was that the S.M.L.E. would be in between rifle and carbine length, and thus serve both functions. Barrel length was now 25 inches, and the robust, bull-dog nose cap/sight protector was introduced. Finally refined as the S.M.L.E. No.1 Mark 3 in 1907, it was lighter and handier than the long Lee-Enfield, was sighted for the new Mark 7 .303 ammunition, had the desired clip feed facility (or "charger loading", as the British termed it) and possessed an excellent set of open sights, which could now be readily zeroed. More details

As an associated trivia piece the bayonet was lengthened by the "lost" 5 inches to retain the total strike value of the combined rifle/bayonet assembly. 

What was K Force?

Korean Force or K-Force. With the commitment of Australian forces to the Korean War, the Australian government called for 1,000 men to enlist in the army for three years, with one year of overseas service in Korea. (Normal enlistment time at that stage was for 6 years but this was a deterrent to many WW2 veterans who wanted/needed a shorter term). The term "K-Force" was primarily a promotional title, as those enlisting became part of the regular army across all three infantry battalions, and were not a separate entity.

Was it common to have brothers serve at Gallipoli?

Yes. There was the Curlewis brothers. 4 landed at Gallipoli on April 25th, 3 with the 16th Bn & 1 with the 12th Bn. Only 1 brother survived.

Lt Col Malone of the NZEF, the hero of (and KIA at) Chunuk Bair was at Gallipoli and so were two of of his 4 sons. The other two sons (from a second marriage) were too young to serve at that time.

Francis Longworth (1st ALH) and his 3 brothers Archibald (6th ALH), George (6th ALH) and Hugh (6th ALH) were all there during October 1915.

Another family (the Wheeler's) had all 6 brothers serve at Gallipoli, 5 with the 16th Bn & 1 with the 10th ALH. 
Charles Handcock of Myrrhee, Victoria, had eight sons serve in the war. 
  • Albert (photo left) was killed at Anzac on the first day of battle, while one of his brothers would later die on the last day of the war.

Albert went ashore at ANZAC with the 7th Battalion and was killed; his body was never found.

At the infamous charge at the Nek, four sets of brothers died.

Spare a thought for the Beechey family of WA in WW1. They sent 8 sons to war, including some to Gallipoli. 5 were killed. 1 was crippled for life. 2 survived intact. Details. 

Do you have all the statistics on WW1?
Country Total
& Died
Wounded Prisoners
& Missing
Casualties %
of Mobilized
Allied Powers            
Russia 12,000,000 1,700,000 4,950,000 2,500,000 9,150,000 76.3
France 8,410,000 1,357,800 4,266,000 537,000 6,160,800 76.3
British Empire 8,904,467 908,371 2,090,212 191,652 3,190,235 35.8
Italy 5,615,000 650,000 947,000 600,000 2,197,000 39.1
United States 4,355,000 126,000 234,300 4,500 364,800 8.2
Japan 800,000 300 907 3 1,210 0.2
Romania 750,000 335,706 120,000 80,000 535,706 71.4
Serbia 707,343 45,000 133,148 152,958 331,106 46.8
Belgium 267,000 13,716 44,686 34,659 93,061 34.9
Greece 230,000 5,000 21,000 1,000 17,000 11.7
Portugal 100,000 7,222 13,751 12,318 33,291 33.3
Montenegro 50,000 3,000 10,000 7,000 20,000 40.0
Total 42,188,810 5,152,115 12,831,004 4,121,090 22,104,209 52.3
Country Total
& Died
Wounded Prisoners
& Missing
Casualties %
of Mobilized
Central Powers            
Germany 11,000,000 1,773,700 4,216,058 1,152,800 7,142,558 64.9
Austria-Hungary 7,800,000 1,200,000 3,620,000 2,200,000 7,020,000 90.0
Turkey 2,850,000 325,000 400,000 250,000 975,000 34.2
Bulgaria 1,200,000 87,500 152,390 27,029 266,919 22.2
Total 22,850,000 3,386,200 8,388,448 3,629,829 15,404,477 67.4
Grand Total 65,038,810 8,538,315 21,219,452 7,750,919 37,508,686 57.6

Statistics are notoriously hard to come by in a way that does not start more arguments than they solve. ALL statistics are, at best, guesstimates in many cases. Also, different sets of stats start from different positions. However, I believe these to be as accurate as can be obtained but I make no guarantees.

What is a Field Marshal's Baton?

It is a short, hand held rank indicator. One might think of it as a swagger stick to the power of 10.

AWM REL/04253.001

Silver gilt Field Marshal's baton. Both ends are wreathed in the laurel, Tudor rose, thistle and shamrock pattern. The baton is surmounted by a silver gilt figure of St George killing the dragon.

 Body of baton is covered with crimson velvet studded with gilt lions. Each end bears 'SG', London hallmarks for 1925, and hallmarks for 18 carat gold. 


<<< Kitchener of Khartoum holding his Field Marshal's baton


What is a dixie?

A dixie is either a large Army cooking pot or saucepan or the set of 2 metal food containers that soldiers carry to cook food in while in the bush. The word comes from the Hindi "degci".

What is "dixie bashing"?

It is the army slang term for washing up. In large army kitchens the plates and cutlery are washed in automatic dish washing machines but the large pots and pans are still "dixie bashed".

What were the New Zealand Regimental Numbers of WW1?

Service numbers and  service person's name might be found on a service persons headstone, death notice in newspaper or on the  reverse side of the 1914-1915 Star. A soldier enlisted 17 August 1914 and was at Gallipoli in the NZ Army Medical Corps and his service number was 3/133A. The Army sometimes doubled up on service numbers, so instead of giving out new ones they added the A. When ordering a Service Personnel File include the A otherwise could end up with the service file of the person who had a similar number e.g. 3/133. 

The following prefixes were used for WW1 service numbers of troops. Extracted from "Orders, Decorations and Medals awarded to New Zealanders - an illustrated guide for collectors" by Geoffrey P. Oldham and Brett Delahunt.

  1/ Samoan Advance Force
  2/ Royal New Zealand Artillery
  3/ New Zealand Medical Corps
  4/ New Zealand Engineers
  5/ New Zealand Army Service Corps
  6/ Canterbury Infantry
  7/ Canterbury Mounted Rifles
  8/ Otago Rifles
  9/ Otago Mounted Rifles
10/ Wellington Rifles
11/ Wellington Mounted Rifles
12/ Auckland Rifles
13/ Auckland Mounted Rifles
14/ Army Service Corps Divisional Train
15/ New Zealand Expeditionary Force Headquarters Staff
16/ Maori Battalion
17/ New Zealand Veterinary Corps
18/ New Zealand Chaplains Department
19/ Samoan Relief Force, Infantry
20/ Samoan Relief Force, Mounted Rifles
21/ New Zealand Army Pay Corps
22/ New Zealand Nursing Service
23/ 1st Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade
24/ 2nd Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade
25/ 3rd Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade
26/ 4th Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade
This system was employed until the formation of the Tenth Reinforcements, following which the prefix was omitted and a strict numerical sequence was used.

What was "trench fever"?

Trench fever is an unusual disease because it was first discovered in 1915 and reached epidemic proportions on the Western Front, but then suddenly disappeared in 1918 when the war ended. However, during the course of its epidemic, it infected some 800,000 Allied soldiers. It was yet again reported during the 2nd World War, when it affected thousands of German soldiers on the Russian Front, but it is now exceedingly rare. It was caused by a combination of poor living conditions and louse infection.

For a full report go to 

When did Diggers have a bath in WW1?

On Gallipoli they bathed in the ocean. In France and Flanders, although Divisional baths (with shared water) were available in the rear lines, with facilities for bathing and cleaning of clothes, the goal was only for a bath every 10 days and even these infrequent baths were not always possible. It must be remembered that the significance of lice, as the vector of trench fever, was unknown during the war, and cleanliness was not a priority in the trenches. This was a major factor contributing to the epidemic of Trench Fever.

I have heard that soldiers have to shave every day. Is that true?

Yes that is true 99% of the time. In the Boer War beards were allowed. In WW1 in the trenches shaving was obligatory if the situation allowed it. WW2 was the same. Shave unless involved in direct combat. Post WW2 shaving became compulsory regardless of circumstances.

Do Navy & Air Force have to shave?

Air Force personnel have to shave as described above. Navy personnel may make application to grow a beard. If/when granted they are then NOT ALLOWED to shave for a set period.

The Ode: is it ‘condemn’ or ‘contemn’?

Every year, after ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs receives many letters asking about The Ode.

The issue raised by most letters is whether the last word of the second line should be ‘condemn’ or ‘contemn’. Contemn means to ‘despise or treat with disregard’, so both words fit the context.

  • They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

    • Age shall not weary them, 

      • nor the years condemn. ("contemn"?)

  • At the going down of the sun 

    • and in the morning 

      • We will remember them.

DVA’s Commemorations Branch has been researching the poem and its background. The lines comprise the fourth stanza of the poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon, and were written in the bleak early days of World War 1. By mid-September 1914, less than seven weeks after the outbreak of war, the British Expeditionary Force in France had already suffered severe casualties. During this time, long lists of the dead and wounded appeared in British newspapers. It was against this background that Binyon, then the Assistant Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, wrote For the Fallen. This poem was first published in The Times on 21 September 1914.

The Times shows ‘condemn’. Some people have suggested that the use of "condemn" in The Times was a typographical error. If it were, one would have expected then that the word would be correctly shown in The Winnowing Fan, published only a few months later and for which Binyon would have had galley proofs on which to mark amendments. Binyon was a highly educated man and very precise in his language and use of words. There is no doubt that had he intended "contemn", then it would have been used.

There have been variations in punctuation within the poem across the years and a change in the spelling from ‘stanch’ to ‘staunch’. Dr John Hatcher, who published in 1995 an exhaustive biography of Binyon, does not even refer to any possible doubt over condemn/contemn, despite devoting a solid chapter to For the Fallen.

The British Society of Authors, who are executors of the Binyon estate, says the word is definitely "condemn", while the British Museum, where Binyon worked, says its memorial stone also shows "condemn". Both expressed surprise when told there had been some debate about the matter in Australia. Interestingly, the text used in 1916 by Sir Edward Elgar to set the poem to music has eight stanzas; the eighth being inserted between what now is regarded as the third and fourth stanzas.

The condemn/contemn issue seems to be a distinctly Australian phenomenon. Inquiries with the British, Canadian, and American Legions reveal that none has heard of the debate. Despite an exhaustive search by Commemorations Branch through Binyon’s published anthologies, no copy of the poem using "contemn" was found. The two-volume set Collected Poems, regarded as the definitive version of Binyon’s poems, uses "condemn". Although inquiries are continuing, there now seems little prospect of finding anything to support even a little the "contemn" claim.

In Australia, the Returned and Services League, in its League handbook, shows "condemn", while a representative of the Australian War Memorial said it always uses "condemn" in its ceremonies. So how did the confusion start? No-one knows, but certainly the question has been debated for many years. Surely now it’s time to put the matter to rest.

Information courtesy of Department of Veterans' Affairs

What did entering the army include?

Contract of unlimited liability: Someone who becomes a soldier is crossing a legally defined boundary, giving up some of the individual rights he hitherto enjoyed (such as the right to withdraw his labour), accepting collective standards which contribute to the common good, and undertaking, in the last analysis, to kill or be killed for a purpose in which he may have no personal interest. General Sir John Hackett called this "the contract of unlimited liability". However closely the army may come to resemble society, and however rarely it is called upon to apply lethal force, this essential characteristic still remains.

The process of turning a man into a soldier and the discipline that underpins it has changed over time, and is complicated by the fact that society, too, is never static, and what was acceptable this year may not be so next. An age in which men were deferential, inured to hardship and had low expectations produced raw material quite different from that in an age where they are non-deferential, litigious and inclined to question authority.

What is the "short sheeting" my Grandad talks about?

This refers to a joke soldiers play on each other when they are living in barracks. You strip the victims bed, hide one sheet and turn the other back on itself at the half-way mark, and remake the bed. When the victim tries to get in of course his legs can only go half way down the bed.

Does the army insist that you make your own bed?

I don't know about now as most soldiers live outside camp in private quarters. When they lived in barracks the army was VERY concerned with bed making. You were required to get fresh sheets and pillow cases weekly. The corners of the bed had to be "hospital corners" i.e. at precisely 45 degrees turn in and the whole lot had to be so tightly made so as to have a 10 cent coin bounce if dropped onto it. No bounce?, the inspecting Sergeant would strip the bed totally and tell you to start again.

How long does it take to dig a trench?

from the Story of the 21st Bn AIF.  "This was a rather remarkable performance as in one section of it 80 men dug 240 yards of trench, plus traverses to a depth of 5 feet between 9.15 pm and 3.45 am under a very heavy fire".

Why are so many Gallipoli graves "unidentified"?

The high number of "unidentified" was a result of there being no opportunity between 1915 and 1919 to preserve the original timber grave markers and the absence of a Graves Registration Unit at Gallipoli in 1915. Also creating a problem was the original non-metal identification disks worn by troops of the British Empire & Commonwealth. They were pressed fibre and over time they simply disappeared.

Was Gallipoli mainly an Australian battle?

No. Far from it. Australia and New Zealand played a significant part but it was smaller than the British involvement. There were also French, French Foreign Legion, Senegalese, Indian, Gurkha, Sikh, Punjabi, Maltese, Jewish (Russian & Poles) and Ceylonese troops or supports. Much of the detail can be had at Graveyards of Gallipoli, an associate site in the Digger History Group.

What was "a marmalade"?

It was a nick-name for recruits in WW1. It was given because they were so new that they still enjoyed marmalade jam. After they had been in the Army long enough to get sick of the ONLY type of jam offered they were past the recruit stage. (Cynics say that marmalade jam was the only type offered because all the apricot jam was sent to Gallipoli, where the troops complained of no variation).

What ships took part in moving the AIF/NZEF to Egypt?

King George's Sound, WA. 1914-11-01. Departure of the First Detachment of the Australian and New Zealand Imperial Expeditionary Forces from Albany. (AIF & NZEF)
Australian Transports
A1 Hymettus A8 Argyllshire A15 Star of England A22 Rangatira
A2 Geelong A9 Shropshire A16 Star of Victoria A23 Suffolk
A3 Orvieto A10 Karroo A17 Port Lincoln A24 Benalla
A4 Pera A11 Ascanius A18 Wiltshire A25 Anglo Egyptian
A5 Omrah A12 Saldana A19 Afric A26 Armadale
A6 Clan McCorquodale A13 Katuna A20 Hororata A27 Southern
A7 Medic; A14 Euripides A21 Marere A28 Miltiades
N/Zealand Transports:
HMNZT 3 Maunganui HMNZT 6 Orari HMNZT 9 Hawks Bay HMNZT 12 Waimate
HMNZT 4 Tahiti HMNZT 7 Limerick HMNZT 10 Arawa
HMNZT 5 Ruapehu HMNZT 8 Star of India HMNZT 11 Athenic
HMS Minotaur HMAS Sydney HMAS Melbourne

I have books that say the Anzacs landed at Gaba Tepe. Why do you say otherwise?

Many books and accounts written at the time and just after refer to the landings at Gaba Tepe (Kabatepe). That is where the Anzacs were supposed to land. That's what the orders said. That is what the troops believed, sometimes for years after the war. In some cases that is what citations for medals said. However, it never happened. It is just another indication of the poor planning and the confusion that bugged the Gallipoli Campaign from the start. 

The boats either set off from poorly positioned RN ships, or drifted north or were steered north (by over a mile) and the landings took place at Ari Burnu (Anzac Cove and North Beach). Gaba Tepe was never seriously attacked and was the site of a small but troublesome 4 gun Turkish artillery unit during the entire campaign. Even 2 months after the landings Field Marshal Kitchener did not know that the Anzacs were not at Gaba Tepe.

What do other countries think of Australian troops?

  • All I can do to answer that is to show some of the comments of various (non-Australian) leaders over the years.







Is Saint George & the Dragon only associated with English military heraldry?
No. The Royal families of many European (and other) countries were inter-related and they shared many heraldic items. 

This Russian Imperial Eagle formal parade visor hat head device insignia- cockade shows that is was not. 

The Double-Headed Russian State Imperial Eagle Crest Coat of Arms in Gold Color Finish. The Double-headed Eagle was adopted as a Russian Emblem in 1497 by Tsar Ivan III. 

This Eagle, facing both East and West, was an old Byzantine Emblem of Roman origin. On the eagle breast- ancient Moscow Coat of Arms: St. George slaying The Dragon.

This badge was awarded to those who participated in military operations during the Chechen  war. 

The Russian crest and the image of Saint George Pobedonosets - the  patron saint of Russia - are on the background of the red cross. the inscription says "veteran of military operations in Caucasus."


St George was also called on by the Nazis. As the image left shows, they were not adverse to using the English icon for their own purposes.

What is a "horse holder"?

In the Light Horse they were broken up into 3 man sections. (4 men per section if the Regiment was at full strength, which was rarely). When a fight started they would ride to a  point nearest the battle, 2 (or 3) would dismount and join the battle and 1 "horse holder" would take care of all 3 (or 4) horses. He would keep them just away from the battle site, close enough to pick up his mates if things went wrong and far enough away to keep the horses safe. Below is an AWM diorama of a horse holder in action at the Battle of Romani, Palestine.

Why isn't there more NZ stuff on your site

I have as much as I can get. It might sound strange to Aussies but the Kiwis are a bit "shy" about their military history. It is almost as if they want to forget the horrors of war. I quote from the index page of their "Army Museum" where they say "For many years New Zealanders had been reluctant to commemorate their military past and as a result plans for a national war museum had not eventuated. The New Zealand Army had maintained small collections and displays at Dunedin, Burnham, Linton and Waiouru. In 1964, a small museum was established in the original Waiouru Homestead and it wasn't until thirteen years later that the Chief of General Staff, Major-General Ronald Hassett (a veteran of WWII and Korea) launched "Operation Heritage" to develop a national Army Museum.".

What does it mean to "Advance in Review Order"?

This is the most spectacular parade ground maneuver on the books. The Battalion (600 to 1,000  soldiers)  in groups of approx 120 blokes, 40 men of each group facing the front with 2 behind each man and a band is on parade. The band will be in the centre. The order is given "band by the centre, Battalion by the right, quick... The drummers cut in with a tattoo. On the 9th beat every man steps forward with no further order. He marches 15 paces and comes to a snappy HALT. To see 1,000 men moving as one with out orders is a sight for sore eyes. 

Is it true that a VC winner is to be saluted by all ranks?

No. Some myths have been created over the years about the "rights" of a VC winner. The most persistent is that VC winners are to be saluted by all ranks from Field Marshal to recruit, regardless of the rank of the awardee. Others are that a VC can "take the parade" and that a VC can "Turn out the Guard". All are false. They are just part of the fiction that grows up in soldier's messes.

Why was Germany so keen to have WW2 after the horrors of WW1?

There were several reasons. Reaction to the Great Depression which hit Germany hard, resentment at the huge costs involved with reparations payments forced on Germany by the Allies were two of them. Hitler's megalomania helped as well. One less often recognised component of the German national psyche was the fact that Germany escaped WW1. Yes, she lost hundreds of thousands killed and even more wounded but the war was fought in France and Belgium. French towns were shelled almost to oblivion, German towns were not. French and Belgian citizens were killed in their thousands, German civilians were not. France and Flanders burned, Germany escaped scot-free in that regard.

When WW2 came and it was German towns burning, German cities levelled to the ground, German citizens dying by the thousand, German women being raped by the Ruskis, German infrastructure destroyed there was a new found hated of war in Germany. Invading other countries is fun, being invaded is not fun. Had the Germans found that out in WW1, WW2 might not have happened.

What is the meaning of "windy" or "Having the wind up?"

The human body naturally reacts to a scare or fright by evacuating the bladder and bowels. It is called the "fight or flight" reaction. That is where the saying "had the shit scared out of him" started. When an upcoming event is scary the body gets ready to evacuate the bowels by pumping large amounts of adrenaline into the system. This tends to create gas in the bowels as part of the attempt to liquefy the excreta to make evacuation easy. The gas is referred to as "wind" (or farts). So , having the wind up meant being nervous or scared. Most soldiers, all sensible ones, have this reaction at some time, usually in the early part of their front line service. After a while the blokes get conditioned, and the problem stops (for most people).

What is an "accidental discharge"?

An Accidental discharge (AD) is the name given to the firing of a rifle accidentally. Soldiers are trained not to have a live round in the chamber except on active service, while on operations, but occasionally in training, particularly on rifle ranges some dill will have an accidental discharge. They are VERY dangerous and the soldier who has an AD is usually charged and the wrath of the entire Unit comes down on him.

Why do American junior Officers get gold insignia & seniors get silver?

Once upon a time army officers wore gold or silver epaulettes on the shoulders of their uniforms. On the silver epaulette the rank insignia was in gold bullion embroidery for contrast and vice-versa for gold epaulettes with silver rank badges. Generals wore a gold epaulettes with one or two embroidered silver stars for either Brigadier or Major General. A full Colonel wore a large silver eagle. Second
Lieutenants wore plain gold or silver epaulettes and a First Lieutenant had a bar of contrasting colour and Captains wore two bars. Majors wore no rank insignia on their epaulettes which were larger than those of subalterns (junior officers), the rank of Lieutenant Colonel was added and they were given a silver leaf on gold as they were staff officers, while Cavalry and other arms wore silver epaulettes. Silver epaulettes were eliminated and only gold epaulettes were retained, when it was decided to award Majors a leaf, it was gold as the silver leaf was already used by Lieutenant Colonels, thus silver outranked gold. In 1872 they switched from a gold bar or two gold bars for First Lieutenants and Captains, they became silver too! In 1917 a Second Lieutenant was given a rank insignia of the formerly used gold bar. During the First World War until 1924, rank insignia was darkened bronze.

Which is correct pronunciation,  "Loo-tenant" or "Lef-tenant"?

The correct pronunciation of Lieutenant in the Australian Services is 'lef-tenant'. The US use the other version. Strangely the American version is closer to historically accurate. The word has it's origins in the ranks of the Roman Army and has come through French and middle English. A 'caput' was the equivalent a Captain. The word roughly translates to 'leader' or 'head of a group'. The rank next down would hold 'tenant' (authority) in his absence, or "in lieu of the tenant".

Where did Australian soldiers serve in WW2?

Australian land forces served in these places.

  • United Kingdom
  • North Africa
  • Greece
  • Crete 
  • Syria
  • Palestine
  • Eritrea
  • Transjordania
  • Malaya 
  • Ceylon
  • Burma
  • China
  • Java
  • Timor
  • Ambon
  • Papua
  • New Guinea
  • Dutch New Guinea
  • New Britain
  • New Ireland
  • Solomon Islands
  • New Caledonia
  • Nauru-Ocean Island
  • USSR


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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces