(1)   Q.  Why is the Royal Navy referred to as the Andrew?
A.  There are two versions of the origin of the nickname.  The most common is that it came from Andrew Miller, claimed to be a very successful press gang officer of the 18th century.  To date there is no documentary evidence of his existence.  The other version is that the name comes from St Andrew, patron saint of sailors and fishermen.

(2)   "Sweet FA.

It stands for "Sweet Fanny Adams", but there's nothing sweet about the origins of this expression.  Fanny was an eight-year-old-girl from Alton, Hampshire, who was murdered on the 24th August 1867, her body cut into pieces and scattered over a wide area including some pieces being thrown into the River Wey. Her killer, Frederick Baker, a 24 year old solicitor's clerk, was hanged at Winchester on Christmas Eve that same year.  In 1869 the Royal Navy changed their rations from salted tack to low-grade tins of chopped-up, sweet mutton for British seamen.  It was tasteless and unpopular and, with macabre humour, the seamen encouraged speculation  that parts of Fanny's body had been found at the Royal Navy Victualling Yard in Deptford and christened it "Sweet Fanny Adams".  On land, the phrase was used to describe anything boring and not worth describing - as was the ration, not poor Fanny.


(3)  Is it true that the three white piping stripes on a blue jean collar commemorate Nelson's great three victories - The Nile, Copenhagen and Tragalgar

Theory 1  This is an old legend but completely without foundation.  When Jack's uniform was first regulated in 1857 only two white stripes were authorised on the collar but the ratings themselves (who then and for long afterwards made most of their own clothing) just thought three looked better and kept adding an extra stripe.  Eventually the Admiralty simply caved in and made the three stripes regulation wear.

Theory 2  Sadly three stripes on the blue jean collar have no connection with Nelson.  The three stripes arrived when the Royal Navy rapidly expanded because of the Napoleonic wars.  Production of uniform collars was sub-contracted and the new collars arrived with three stripes instead of two.  On Player's Medium cigarette packets the rating pictured has a cap-tally HMS Hero and a collar with two stripes.

Theory(or Fact) sent by Pete (Scurs) Whellams  When I joined the Andrew in 1951, as a lowly EMII my classmates  and I were advised by our parade ground instructor that there were several anomalies regarding the origins of certain aspects of the traditional naval uniform. He  waxed eloquent on the reason for the blue jean collar with its three stripes, the silk and the seven horizontal creases in Jacks bell bottom's. The collar, we were told was a means of protecting his uniform against the wax or tar the matelot used to 'fix' his long hair into a pigtail, thus keeping it from dropping over his eyes. The three stripes had nothing to do with Nelson's three major battles, but were purely for decoration. Contrary to general belief, the black 'Silk' had no connotations with Nelson's death. It was merely a reminder of the traditional sweatband that gunners tied round their foreheads to stop the sweat running into their eyes, when manning the cannons. Again, contrary to popular belief, the seven horizontal creases in Jack's bell bottom trousers did not represent 'The Seven Seas', but were just a convenient and space saving way of folding and stowing his uniform in lockers. Ratings did not have wardrobes. They also ensured that the trousers took up a 'inflated' look, which accentuated the 'bells'.

Any more theories?  Send them in.

(4)  To pull your finger out.

An expression associated these days with urging someone to hurry up, like so many English phrases it has a military or naval origin.  After loading, cannons had a gunpowder charge poured into a small ignition hole and held in place with a wooden plug.  In battle, when a high rate of fire was desirable, the gunpowder would be held in place by a gunners finger.  Impatient officers would shout at the hapless artilleryman to "pull your finger out!"  so the heavy weapon could be fired.  It has not been recorded how many such digits were lost on the battlefields.

(5) When and why did non-commissioned personnel in the RN become know as "ratings" and those in the Army as "other ranks"

Seamen in the Royal Navy have always been classified according to their skills.  Ordinary Seaman, Able Seaman etc and their "rate" of pay adjusted thereunto.  Nowadays their rating also includes their specialisation eg communicator, mechanic and so forth.

(6) Gadget

Not many people know that this word was first used in the Royal Navy in the 19th Century.  If you couldn't remember the proper name for a small piece of equipment you called it a gadget.  From there it escaped into general use to describe small mechanisms and implements, especially those used in the kitchen - things like can openers, apple peelers and sausage stuffers.


(7) Blazer

The blazer was originally a brightly coloured jacket used in boating and cricket.  These are now often called "sports blazers" to distinguish them from the more sober style used today.  It has been suggested that the name derives from HMS Blazer whose Captain, in 1845, dressed his ship's company in striking blue and white striped jerseys.


(8) SOS  

The SOS signal is 100 years old this year (2008).  It is the most meaningful "acronym" in the English language despite meaning nothing. It does not stand for Save Our Souls, Stop Other Signals, Survivors On Ship, Send Out Succour, Save Our Sailors/Ship/Skins or any other variant.  It certainly does not stand as one theory claims, for Spasti Ot Smerti (the Russian "save from death").  SOS is simply the shortest three-letter arrangement in Morse code:  three dots, three dashes and three more dots.  Of course technology has moved on dramatically since 1908 and only very occasionally are the tell-tale dots and dashes that have saved countless lives employed today.  After a century. SOS has come full circle:  it started off as meaningless and in some circumstances, it still is.  However, Morse code is not entirely dead because you will often hear two dashes (the letter M for message presumably) coming from a mobile phone that a text message has been received.


(9) Why do we refer to a square meal?

From Nelson's time British seamen ate from a square plate.  The contents were deemed sufficient, hence the expression was used in ordinary speech to indicate a satisfying and wholesome meal.  The associated "three square meals a day" was taken as the indicator of an adequate intake to work and fight the ship.  Therefore in ordinary speech, an amount able to keep someone going throughout the day.  The edge of the plate was known as the fiddle.  Thus another expression "on the fiddle" described those who surreptitiously took their neighbour's share.  This was a serious crime when long voyages and lack of fresh food meant rigorously allocated portions.  


(10) Freeze the balls off a brass monkey - First theory

On old warships it was necessary to keep a good supply of cannon balls  near the cannon. To prevent them rolling about on the deck was a problem though.  The best storage method devised was to stack them on a square based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four, which rested on nine which rested on sixteen.  Thus a supply of thirty cannon balls could be stacked in a small area next to a cannon. There was only one problem - how to prevent the last sixteen from sliding/rolling from under the others.  The solution was a metal plate with sixteen round indentations, called, for reasons unknown, a Monkey.  If this plate was made of iron the iron balls would quickly rust to it.  The solution to the rusting was to make them of brass, hence Brass Monkeys.  Few landlubbers realised that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled.  Consequently when the temperature dropped too far the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannon balls would come right off the monkey.  Thus it was quite literally cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. 

 Freeze the balls off a brass monkey - Second theory

It is also said that the phrase above has got nothing to do with cannonballs. In fact, the phrase means exactly what is says.  The fake nautical euphemism is an attempt to make its rude humour more acceptable and the reasons for this are shown below.  Firstly, it doesn't make any sense to stack piles of cannonballs on the deck of a pitching warship.  And they weren't.  They were kept in long thin racks running between the gunports, with a single hole for each cannonball. Second, these frames were called "shot-racks" or "shot garlands" and they were made of wood, not brass. Third, for one of these imaginary "brass monkeys" to contract even 1 millimetre (0.3 inch) more than the iron cannonballs it was supposed to hold, the temperature would have to drop to -66 degrees Celsius - 8 degrees than ever recorded in Europe.  Fourth, naval slang from the days of sail abounds in expressions that involve the word monkey but the phrase "brass monkey" is nowhere  among them.  The Sailors Word Book of 1867 , the comprehensive dictionary of nautical terms compiled by the naval surveyor and astronomer Admiral W H Smyth (1788-1865) records monkey-block, monkey-boat, monkey-tail, monkey-jacket, monkey-spars and monkey-pump (an illegal device for illegally sucking rum through a hole drilled in the cask).  The only entry under BRASS reads:  "BRASS - Impudent assurance".  Fifth, according to Dr Stewart Murray, a professional metallurgist and Chief Executive of the London Bullion Market Association, the difference in thermal contraction between brass and iron in such a situation is "absolutely tiny", even at extreme temperatures and far too insignificant to have that kind of effect. The phrase began life demurely as "cold enough to freeze the tail off a brass monkey".  It was first recorded in mid-nineteenth century America and variants of it were used as often about extremes of heat as they were of cold.  In Herman Melville's novel Omoo (1850), one of the characters remarks that "It was 'ot enough to melt the nose off a brass monkey".  Michael Quinion of www.worldwidewords.org suggests that the "monkey" element originated in the popular nineteenth-century brass ornaments featuring the three monkeys that "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil". Clustering round a roaring Dickensian fire on a winter's night, far inland from sea, what better reminder could there be of how cold it is outside than the like of cheeky brass monkeys sitting on the mantelpiece.


(11) Show a leg   

Women were allowed to stay onboard Royal Navy ships in harbour during the 19th century and they were allowed to stay asleep after the  sailors had been roused.  The order of show a leg was given so that the person remaining in the hammock could show a shapely woman's leg which was distinguishable from the hairy-legged sailors.


(12) Piping hot

If food was collected from the galley as soon as the appropriate "pipe" was made then it would still be hot when served.


(13) Chewing the fat

As food was stored in a barrel of brine for months on end, in order to break down the tough rind of beef a great deal of jaw action (or chewing) was needed.


(14) Long shot 

This saying originated from firing a cannon beyond it's normal range -  trying something with little hope of success.


(15) Toe the line

We all know this means to conform to authority and stems from when the ship's company were mustered for pay or victualling.  Each sailor would step up to a line marked on the deck and give his name and duties - hence toeing the line.    

(16) Why is the Navy salute different to the other Services? 

As we know Army and RAF personnel salute with the palm facing outward and move their hand in a bigger arc on the way up.  This originates when sailors climbed the rigging of ships and their palms became covered in rope burns and tar from the rigging.  Admirals of the day did not like their sailors showing dirty hands when saluting so the hand was inclined downwards to hide the palm.  The straight up and down element of the Navy salute stems from confined spaces within warships.

(17) Where did the nickname "Tug" Wilson come from?  

The name is derived from the nickname of former First Sea Lord Sir Arthur Knyvet Wilson (1842-1921), a recipient of the Victoria Cross.  He was given the name when, as an Admiral, he ordered a battleship to come alongside but the captain struggled to make the manoeuvre, prompting the short-tempered Wilson to signal offering a tugboat to assist.



(18) Black Tot Day 31 July 1970

This date commemorates one of the darkest anniversaries in the history of the Royal Navy when the daily ration of rum was abolished by the Admiralty Board bringing to an end to 350 years of tradition.  Rum was first introduced to the RN in 1655 when the British Fleet captured the island of Jamaica.  In 1740 Admiral Edward Vernon had the rum watered down to help minimize the effect of alcohol on sailors. This was known as "grog".   While many believe the name came from the grogram coat that Admiral Vernon wore in rough weather the term predates his famous order.  The name probably originates in the West Indies perhaps of African etymology of mixing water with alcohol.


(19) Crossing the Bar

The diplomatic and polite phrase for advising of departed friends and comrades originates from a poem written in 1899 by Alfred Lord Tennyson. This compares death to crossing the "sandbar" between the tide or river of life, with it's outgoing "flood" and the ocean that lies beyond death, the "boundless deep" to which we return. 

(20) Guzz

A guz is a unit of length used in parts of Asia similar to a yard although the size varied over time.  Sailors when referring to the Dockyard used to abbreviate the word to simply "The Yard" and when returning home from a sea trip this was further shortened to "Guzz" as we know Plymouth today.

(21) Jago's Mansions

HMS Drake, or HMS Vivid as it was known early in the 20th century has the nickname Jago's Mansions. This is in honour of Warrant Instructor in Cookery Alphonso Jago who introduced a major change from ratings eating in their messes to using dining halls.  This became known as the general mess system as opposed to canteen messing and the rest of the Royal Navy followed suit around 1922.

(22) To call for a damp

(See Naval Slang page) A silent deadly (or Ninja) fart. Originating from cannon firing drill.  After firing a round the Gun Layer would call for the barrel to be swabbed with a damp mop to dowse any remaining burning material before re-loading (for obvious reasons).  In the process of damping any remaining sulphurous gases in the barrel from the previous discharge would be forced up through the "Priming Hole" having the effect of a silent and deadly fart.  Hence the explanation "Blimey have you called for a damp?"  In other words "Have you farted?"

(23) Hopping off at Fratton Bridge

(See Naval Slang Page). Coitus Interruptus. Having intercourse without a condom. Fratton Bridge is/was the railway station before Portsmouth.  It was unmanned in the early morning when the "Milk Train" stopped there and matelots returning from weekend leave without a train ticket would alight in order to avoid paying a fare.

Thanks to Brigham Young for this

Do you often find yourself missing the "good-old days" of Navy life? Maybe waxing nostalgic about those adventuresome days spent at sea? Here's how to simulate living aboard ship by recapturing that long-gone atmosphere in and around your home.

1. Build a shelf in the top of your wardrobe and sleep on it while inside a smelly sleeping bag. Remove the wardrobe door and replace it with a curtain that's too small.

2. Wash your underwear every night in a bucket, then hang it over the basement water pipes to dry.

3. Four hours after you go to bed, have your wife whip open the curtain, shine a flashlight in your eyes, and say "Sorry, Mate! Wrong pit!"

4. Renovate your bathroom. Build a wall across the centre of your bath and move the showerhead down to chest level. Store beer barrels in the shower enclosure.

5. When you have a shower, remember to turn the water off while you soap.

6. Every time there is a thunderstorm, sit in a wobbly rocking chair and rock as hard as you can until you're sick.

7. Fill your humidifier with oil instead of water. Then set it to "HIGH".

8. Don't watch TV, except for movies in the middle of the night. For added realism, have your family vote for which movie they want to see - then select a different one.

9. (Mandatory for engineering types) Leave a lawnmower running in your living room 24 hours a day to re-create the proper noise levels.

10. Have the paperboy give you a haircut.

11. Once a week, blow compressed air up through your chimney. Ensure that the wind carries the soot over onto your neighbour's house. When he complains, laugh at him.

12. Buy a trash compactor, but only use it once a week. Store-up your rubbish in the other side of your bath.

13. Wake up every night at midnight and make a sandwich out of anything you can find, preferably using stale bread. Optional: cold soup or canned ravioli eaten out of the can.

14. Devise your family menus a week in advance without looking in the fridge or freezer.

15. Set your alarm clock to go off at random times through the night. When it goes off, leap out of bed, get dressed as fast as you can, run into your back yard and break-out the garden hose.

16. Once a month, take every major household appliance completely apart and then reassemble them.

17. Use four spoons of coffee per cup, and allow it to sit for three hours before drinking.

18. Invite about 200 people whom you don't really like all that much to come and stay for a couple of months.

19. Take an old tin can and rig it with a light bulb inside and a switch on the outside. Install it on the underside of your coffee table. Turn out all other lights. Crawl under the table with a smelly, damp blanket and read books.

20. Raise the thresholds and lower the top sills of all the doors in the house so that you always either hit your head or skin your shins when passing through them.

21. When baking cakes, prop up one side of the cake tin while it is baking. When it has cooled, spread icing really thickly on one side to level it out again.

22. Every so often, throw your cat into the bath! With the accompanying screams and splashing, shout "Man Overboard!!!" Then run swiftly into the kitchen and sweep all dishes, pots and pans, and other loose items onto the floor while yelling at your wife for not having secured for sea properly.

23. Nickname your favourite shoes "steamers".  Get your children to hide them around the house on a random basis.

24. Put on the headphones from your stereo. Do not plug them in. Go and stand in front of your dishwasher. Say to nobody in particular, "Dishwasher manned and ready, Sir!".  Stand there for three or four hours. Then say, once again to nobody in particular "Dishwasher secured!" Remove the headphones, roll up the cord and put them away.

Joke - courtesy of Pete Whellams  (the old ones are the best)

A very green OD joined his first ship and the senior hand of the mess was a very long-served, ancient 3 badge AB with Pee-do and many campaign medals. He eyed the new arrival with some amusement and then said: 'Welcome aboard. My name is 'Jumper' Collins. Everybody who is anybody knows me and I know everybody, so don't you forget it'.

The OD was most skeptical about this sweeping statement and during the course of the next few days took every opportunity to ascertain just who did 'Jumper' Collins know. One forenoon, as he was duty mess cleaner, he asked 'Jumper' if the Archbishop of Canterbury knew him. 'Course he does', said 'Jumper'. The OD was not satisfied with that so challenged him  to prove it, betting five bob he couldn't.

'Jumper' accepted the bet and the following weekend they went up the Smoke where 'Jumper' unerringly led the way to Lambeth Palace and knocked on the door. The Primate had seen him approaching and answered the door himself. 'Why, Hello, 'Jumper', he said, 'So nice to see you again. Will you join me for lunch?'. Hi, Bish', said 'Jumper', 'We'd be delighted, I'm starving' 'Jumper' and the OD stayed a while, then left, not  without benefit of a blessing. As soon as they were outside 'Jumper' held out his hand for his winnings.

The OD felt a bit miffed at losing a dollar so easily and as they were still in London, slyly suggested that the King wouldn't be acquainted with 'Jumper' Collins. 'Double or quits?', asked 'Jumper'. The OD agreed, so 'Jumper'' led the way to The Mall and approached Buck House, where there were many sightseers pressed against the railings, taking pictures. 'Jumper' walked straight through the gate, being drawn off a General Salute by the sentry on guard as he did so. He went directly to the main entrance and rang the bell. A footman opened the door and on seeing who was there said: 'Ah, Mister 'Jumper' Collins. Please come in, Sir. Their Majesties are taking teain the Green Room and will be delighted to see you again'.

'Jumper' led the way and they both entered the Green Room where KGVI, Queen
Elizabeth, Queen Mary and the two young Princesses were partaking of afternoon tea. The Princesses jumped up and excitedly ran across the room to
Uncle 'Jumper', who gave them both an affectionate hug. KGVI apologised for his daughters' exuberance and intimated that 'Jumper's' visits were far too
infrequent. Having spent a pleasant hour or so with the Royal Family, Jumper took his leave and they left. Jumper had some business of a biological nature in Piccadilly Circus so told the OD to pay up and he'd see him back on board on Monday morning, warning him not to be adrift.

The OD contemplated his loss of another half a bar with considerable regret. He was now fifteen bob down and that represented a week's pay. He had to recoup this money somehow and when some months later, the ship was on a GS commission in the Med, he thought he might have a chance to do so.

On a visit to Naples a coach was hired for those ratings wishing to visit Rome. This was the opportunity the OD was looking for. He bet 'Jumper' thirty shillings that the Pope did not know him, nor he the Pope. 'Done'said 'Jumper'.

As soon as the coach arrived in Rome, Jumper headed for the Vatican and
Saint Peter's Square. A huge crowd was already in attendance, as the Pope was expected to make an  appearance on the balcony of the Palace. The OD and
'Jumper' stood there for some considerable time and the crowd was getting a bit restless, due to the long wait.

'Jumper' turned to the OD and said; ' You wait here, son. I'll see if I can't jiffy him up a bit'. Whereupon he headed off through the crowd, in the direction of the palace. Some minutes there was cheer from the crowd as the doors to the balcony opened and out stepped the Pontiff with Ceremonial robe, mitre and Crozier. Beside him was a diminutive figure in navy blue with cap flat aback, three gold chevrons on his left sleeve and a cornucopia of medal ribbons on his chest. The OD's heart sank.

A street urchin was tugging at the OD's sleeve and saying; excitedly, in broken English: 'I see him'. Look! I see him'. The OD asked the youngster,who was even younger than himself: 'Who is that up there?' The urchin replied: I don't know who him in the white clothes is, but the other one,
THAT is 'Jumper' Collins'.


'Nuther Nautical Joke from Pete Whellams.

Soon after hostilities ceased in 1945, a German, Russian and British Admiral met aboard HMS Vanguard, the last of Great Britain's Battleships. They were walking the Quarterdeck, discussing the war and the tactics that each service had employed.

Eventually the conversation turned to the merits of their respective ratings and the German Admiral unwisely commented that in his experience there was no finer or braver seaman than the Deutchslander Kreigsmarine.

The Russian Admiral took immediate offence at this comment and waxed loudly, eloquently and at great length, (even removing a shoe and beating it on the capstan) as he exhorted the merits of the Russian sailor; 'Who as everyone knows was undisputedly, the bravest seaman in any mans navy'.

By this time the British Admiral was almost apoplectic with righteous indignation and did not mince words when he castigated the other Admirals, reminding them that the British sailor was the salt of the earth. He had been making Britain great while their two navies were yet to get afloat. He ended by stating that there was not a sailor in the world who was more loyal, endowed with a greater tenacious fighting spirit and absolute bravery, than the heart of oak, British bluejacket.

The argument continued with neither Admiral giving way so it was decided that a rating from each service be put to the test and thereby ascertain which sailor was the bravest.

The German Admiral looked over the ship's superstructure and then called Kreigsmarine Schmidt, the cox'n of his barge  Schmidt doubled up to the Admiral who then ordered Schmidt to repair to the Starboard flying bridge, stand to attention on the edge of it, salute and sing Deutchland Uber Alles, then dive head first into the sea.  Without a word, the cox'n doubled away, appeared on the flying bridge, stood to attention, saluted, sang the song and dived into the sea. The German Admiral then turned to the other two and said: ' There, Gentlemen is an example of the German sailor's bravery'.

As the bedraggled matelot was being fished out of the hoggin by the duty seaboat's crew, the Russian Admiral called his own cox'n over. 'Ivan Krakov' the Admiral said, 'You will climb the mainmast and walk along the yard arm. You will stand to attention, sing "The Red Banner" then dive head first onto the maindeck'. Ivan looked somewhat shocked but without a word he strode
somewhat unsteadily away. Shortly after he appeared on the yardarm, did his duty and dived onto the deck, splattering a gory mess in all directions. The Russian Admiral turned to his companions and said, 'Now that Gentlemen, is a prime example of unquestioning obedience and absolute bravery'.

The British Admiral contemplated a moment while the duty watch cleaned up the remains, then seeing Able Seaman Bloggs busily holystoning the quarterdeck, he called; 'Able Seaman Bloggs!' AB Bloggs quickly rose and doubled over to the Admiral 'Yes Sir'. he said. 'Able Seaman Bloggs, you will go below, get into your No 1s then climb the mast to the truck. You will stand to attention on the truck, sing God Save the King, salute and swallow dive onto the deck'. AB Bloggs looked somewhat puzzled at the order
and  said, 'Beg Pardon, Sir'.  The Admiral repeated the order.  AB Bloggs looked the Admiral straight in the eye and said; ' And you can get bloody well stuffed, SIR'.

The British Admiral turned triumphantly to his associates and said, 'Now that Gentlemen, is absolute, unmitigated bravery for you.'

  Some trivia from Pete Whellams

  Hands of the Mess   These were ratings of the duty watch who were responsible for the daily cleaning  of the mess and any other duties pertaining to the messdeck, ie collecting victuals, rum, etc..

Duty Watch.     That part of the Port or Starboard watch that is duty for the day. The watch destined to keep the Middle watch (0000-0400) at sea, is the duty watch.

Not wishing to teach grandmother to suck eggs, but this leads naturally to:-

Three Watch System. The day is divided
into six four hour periods. These comprise the
Afternoon Watch, (1200 -1600) The Dog Watches, (1600-2000). The First Watch (2000-0000), the Middle Watch, (0000-0400), the Morning  Watch, (0400-0800) and the Forenoon Watch, (0800-1200).  In this system, each watchkeeper has two watches a day, 4 on, 8 off. This is the standard Merchant Navy watchkeeping  system and Royal Navy Action Stations watchkeeping system. With this system a watchkeeper will keep both 12- 4 watches or both 4-8 watches or both 8-12 watches.

  Four Watch System. The only difference between the 3 and 4 watch system is that the Dog Watches (1600-2000)
are split into 2 x 2 hour watches, which then divides the day
 into 7 Watches. The ships' company can now enjoy a four watch system with 12 hours between watches instead 8.
 The Duty Watch keeps the Afternoon and Middle, followed by the First Dog and Morning, followed by Last dog and all night in followed by First Dog and Forenoon.  

Thanks to John Dickson for the following:


The following was circulated during 1982. It has since then been taken up by most ships and sent to Mum's and Dad's, wives and sweethearts awaiting the return of their loved ones.

Issued in solemn warning on this the ..................................day of ..............................................19__

To all neighbours, friends and relatives of ..............................................................from HMS _____


  1. Very soon the above named sailor will once again be in your midst. Radioactive, frostbitten and demoralised, yet eager to assume his place once again in society as a human being, entitled to liberty and justice whilst on a somewhat delayed pursuit of happiness.
  2. In making joyous preparations to welcome him back to civilisation you must make allowances for crude habits that will have become commonplace over the past months. In brief, he may have become a trifle barbaric in his outlook on life and may be suffering from frostbite, scurvy and athletes foot (caused by having to sleep in his boots and socks).
  3. Therefore, show no alarm if he prefers to eat on the floor instead of using a chair and table, and prefers to wear overalls and anti-flash clothing when in bed. He will probably carry his lifejacket when visiting neighbours and will almost certainly have epileptic fits at the sight or at the mention of corned beef, minced beef or stew.
  4. It is quite possible that water and soap suds may be seen running from under the bathroom door, a closer inspection will find him in his daily chore, crashing out his smalls with "gay abandon" in a bucket of hot soapy water. To counteract this habit, you should attempt to intercept his clothes when he removes them and the ritual will slowly die a natural death.
  5. His diet, to which he has become accustomed, should be for the first few weeks consist of tinned or powered milk (watered down), dehydrated potatoes and tinned vegetables. Fresh or rich food, especially milk, fruit or mushrooms should be avoided at first, but try and introduce them gradually. His only meats should be corned beef, or minced beef and then only on Sunday.
  6. Do not allow him on the roads unaccompanied; it will be his undoing as traffic is something alien to him. If he should hear the two-tone horn of a police car or ambulance, he is likely to run around searching for his anti-flash, life jacket, flak jacket, survival suit and Geneva Convention Identity Card. He will hotfoot it home where he will lock all doors and windows and lie on the floor in the prone position.
  7. WARNING : - Only two things will bring him out of this state. Either sound the all clear and inform him that the raid is over or the snapping of a bra being undone.
  8. His language, consisting of mainly nautical slang, may be a little embarrassing at first, but in a relatively short time he can be taught to speak good plain English again. Never ask him why the chap around the corner has a higher rate than him, and never make flattering remarks about the Army, RAF or the Royal Marines. He has heard enough of them to last a life time.
  9. On no account ever make the mistake of asking him for cigarettes or money as not only will you end up letting yourself be told the biggest hard luck story of all time, but will also supply both to him.
  10. Do all his shopping for him, gently establishing in his mind that there are more shops than just the NAAFI and that these shops sell items other than soap, toothpaste and Mars Bars.
  11. For the first few weeks (until he has been house trained) be particularly watchful when he is in the company of women, especially the young and beautiful ones. After seeing women wooed by handsome men on the video screen, he thinks himself the master of the art himself. His intentions will be sincere although dishonourable, but keep in mind that beneath his rugged frostbitten exterior, there lies a heart of gold.
  12. Below is a selection of nautical phrases that he must re-learn in order to become completely re-habilitated.  

Long Weekend

Seasonal Leave

Make and Mend

Night Leave

Run Ashore

RA Pig


Victualled Bastard

Fillet Steak



Station Card

  1. The final list are words that should not be mentioned in his presence :-

Defence Watches

Captains Rounds



Pot Mess

Corned Beef

Carnation Milk


Action Stations

Boat Routine

Port Stanley


Snow Blizzards

Darken Ship

Good One Knobber

O.O.W. Manoeuvres

We hope that you have enjoyed this letter and look forward to our glorious return.


Yet another one from Pete (Scurs) Whellams

Expect you've heard the following messdeck dit before but after all these years it still raises a smile.............
It came to pass there was no arse and there was a famine in the Land.  Now Nabob, the son of the Paybob did proceed on a long weekend, carrying his mess savings in his ditty box. And Lo! As he crosseth the Portsdown Hill he was set upon by bandits. Not ordinary bandits, but Arse bandits, who did raggeth, baggeth and shaggeth him and leaveth him for dead. They  even swiped his Burberry. This  misfortune was noted in the chronicles of the times as having had a ******* green rub!


Thanks to Chris (Jesse) Owen for this

Many people are at a loss for a response when someone says, "You don't know Jack Schitt." Now you can handle the situation with ease.

I am the only son of Awe Schitt and O. Schitt. Awe Schitt, the
fertilizer magnate, married O. Schitt, the owner of Needeep N. Schitt,
Inc.  In turn, Jack Schitt married Noe Schitt, and the deeply religious couple produced 6 children: Holie Schitt, Fulla Schitt, Giva Schitt, Bull Schitt, and the twins: Deap Schitt and Dip Schitt.

Against her parents' objections, Deap Schitt married Dumb Schitt, a high school dropout. After being married 15 years, Jack and Noe Schitt
divorced. Noe Schitt later married Ted Sherlock and, because her
children were living with them, she wanted to keep her previous name.
She was then known as Noe Schitt-Sherlock. Dip Schitt married Loda
Schitt and they produced a son of nervous disposition, Chicken Schitt.

Fulla Schitt and Giva Schitt were inseparable throughout childhood and
subsequently married the Happens brothers in a dual ceremony. The
wedding announcement in the newspaper announced the Schitt- Happens wedding.

The Schitt-Happens children were Dawg, Byrd, and Hoarse. Bull Schitt,
the prodigal son, left home to tour the world. He recently returned from
Italy with his bride, Pisa Schitt and their new born son Tuff. So, now
when someone says, "You don't know Jack Schitt," you can correct them!

Thanks for taking the time to learn about my family.