Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Chicago Base Ball Club, 1897 -- August 23, 2017

1897 Spalding Baseball Guide

The 1897 Chicago Orphans (now the Colts) finished ninth in 1897. 

Bill Lange was an outfielder from San Francisco.  His nickname was Little Eva.  He retired at 29 after the 1899 season and went into business in San Francisco.  His nephew Highpockets Kelly played for the New York Giants. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Solar Eclipse -- August 22, 2017

Yesterday we saw the first nationwide solar eclipse since 1979.  It was foggy in Pacifica, but I found a nice video.  The sky did get darker around the totality.  I had the nationwide coverage from CBS on the television while I worked. 

John Lee Hooker 100 -- August 22, 2017

Bluesman John Lee Hooker may have been born 100 years ago today, on 22-August-1917.  He was born on 22-August in some year between 1912 and 1923.

I tried to get some of friends who liked soul music to listen to John Lee Hooker, but I guess he was a bridge too far.

I always liked his socks.  And his hats.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Sells-Floto Now the Greatest Circus in the World -- August 21, 2017

Variety, 13-April-1923

The Sells-Floto Circus visited Chicago in April, 1923.  I would like to see The Great Schubert, "The Aerial Enigma." 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Dick Gregory, RIP -- August 20, 2017
Dick Gregory has died.  I don't remember him as a comedian, but I remember him as a consistent advocate for civil rights.

"I am really enjoying the new Martin Luther King Jr., stamp – just think about all those white bigots, licking the backside of a black man."

Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Big French Railway Gun on Its Way to the Front -- August 19, 2017

Railway Age, 14-January-1918

A railroad gun is a large piece of artillery that is mounted on a rail car for transportation and often for firing.  They were common during World War One, but are no longer used because they are too inflexible and vulnerable to air attack. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hail, Liberty -- August 17, 2017

The cover of the 14-July-1986 Time Magazine is dedicated to the Statue of Liberty, which was celebrating its 100th birthday.  Some people seem to feel that images of Lady Liberty are insulting to our so-called president. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Señorita Rio -- August 15, 2017

The cover of Fight Comics number 45, from October, 1946, featured a cover drawn by Lily Renee, one of the rare female comic book artists in the early industry.  Her character, Señorita Rio, a spy, was beautiful and fun.  Fiction House comics were famous for having lovely women on the covers. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Charlottesville -- August 14, 2017

A bunch of idiots went to Charlottesville, Virginia for something called the Unite the Right rally.  The rally was held to protest the removal of statues of Civil War traitors including Robert E Lee.  One of these superior people used his car to plow into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one person and injuring 19 others.

Why do these people hate America so much?  They adopt the emblems of historical losers like the Confederacy and the Nazis.  They take inspiration from our so-called president. He can't bring himself to call this domestic terrorism.  He tries to blame both sides. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Spicy Detective -- August 13, 2017
The Spicy pulps from Culture Publications, Spicy Mystery , Spicy Detective, Spicy Adventure and Spicy Western, were too intellectual for some people, but they remained popular for several years. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

American Bark Erskine M Phelps -- August 11, 2017

San Francisco Call, 18-October-1900
The drawing is from the 18-October-1900 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. 

"bbl" = barrel  
"cr" = crate?
"cs" = case 
"gal" = gallon
"pkg" = package
"sk" = sack
"tierce" = cask, 42 gallons

"1 cs horns" -- I wonder what that was.  

Large Cargo for New York. 

The ship Erskine M. Phelps cleared yesterday for New York with the following cargo:
39,595 cs 5640 bbls 500 tierces salmon, 4353 pkgs scrap iron, 501 gals wine, 40 sks cement, 200  bbls fish oil, 1 cs horns, 100 bales rags, 10 crs machinery, 2299 sks mustard seed, 15 cs drugs, 911 sks bone black, 100 bbls pickled cherries, 115 cs books, 3384 sks silver lead ore, 85 cs copper paint, 28,780 sks brewing barley.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Glen Campbell, RIP -- August 10, 2017
Glen Campbell died.  I remember his television show when I was a kid.  My dad liked country and western, and Glen Campbell often turned up on the radio.  I have several of his songs that get stuck in my head.  I later learned that he had been a member of the Wrecking Crew, which backed nearly everything recorded in Southern California. 

Some years ago, he announced that he had Alzheimer's disease and would do a final tour.  This helped people to be more aware of the disease.

He was good in True Grit with John Wayne.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Battleship New York at Full Speed -- August 9, 2017

Bay St Louis, MS Sea Coast Echo, 04-August-1917
USS New York (BB-34) had been commissioned on 15-May-1914.  She patrolled with the British Grand Fleet during World War One.  She served in the Atlantic and the Pacific during World War Two.  After the war, she was one of the ships used in the Operation Crossroads atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

California State Railroad Museum, 2017 -- August 8, 2017

Today we drove to Sacramento.  Traffic was light going up. The weather in Sacramento was pleasant, not too hot.  The California State Railroad Museum had an exhibit of autos from the California Automobile Museum, which used to be the Towe Ford Museum.  I wanted to visit that place, but it is closed on Tuesdays.  Here we see a high speed rail mockup with a 1914 Stanley Steamer. 

In the lobby there was an exhibit of images showing Southern Pacific employee sports teams, including baseball, softball, basketball, volleyball and bowling. 

We walked under the freeway to the K Street Mall to get lunch.  The K Street Mall was closed.  They are redeveloping it.  We were hungry, so it was fortunate that Macy's had a cafe on the ground floor.  We had a nice lunch there. 

We walked through Old Sacramento and back to the car.  We stopped at the Nut Tree to have sundaes at Fenton's.  Traffic going home was pretty light, except around Emeryville. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Barry Bonds, 756 10 Years - August 7, 2017

Ten years ago tonight, on 07-August-2007, Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run, breaking Hank Aaron's record.  Bonds was at the ballpark tonight.   Here is a rerun of my post from 07-August-2007:

Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run, to break Hank Aaron's major league record. He hit it at Pac Bell Park, off of Washington Nationals pitcher Mike Bacsik, in the fifth inning. There was a nice celebration, including a video comment from Hank Aaron. Bonds took his position in the field for the top of the sixth, then left the game.
Now I hope the Giants will go on to win the game.

Sadaharu Oh, watch out. 2,000 rbis and 3,000 hits may come first. 

I took the photo of Bonds standing in left field at Pac Bell Park on 09-June-2007, during a game against the Oakland Athletics.

Battle of Guadalcanal -- August 7, 2017
Seventy-five years ago today, on 07-August-1942, American Marines landed on Guadalcanal, an  island in the Solomons.  Japanese naval troops had occupied the island to block communications between the United States and Australia.  The Marines quickly captured an airfield which the Japanese had been building.  The fight for the island lasted six months in miserable conditions.

The movie Guadalcanal Diary was made and released the next year. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Playing Tourist -- August 6, 2017

We got a late start today but we drove to Fifth and Mission and parked on the fourth floor.  We walked up Fourth Street and saw 1051 picking up passengers.  The motorman wouldn't open the front doors, and it was pretty crowded, so we decided to wait for the next one.  Unfortunately, while we saw a few cars going the other way, there wasn't another F car headed for Fisherman's Wharf.  We walked down to Third and caught an 8 bus.  My wife had never been on it before.  It was fun to ride through Chinatown, North Beach and Fisherman's Wharf.  It was sad to see the empty building that held Caesar's Italian Restaurant.  We got off at the end of the line and walked to Pier 39, which is celebrating its 39th anniversary. 

We had calamari and chips, then went to the Christmas shop.  We went to hear and smell the sea lions.  It was so crowded that we couldn't see them.  Walking along Jefferson, we found that it was so crowded that we could barely move along.  We haven't seen Fisherman's Wharf that crowded since 2001. 

We went to the end of the F line where we just missed a Milano car.  Nextbus said the next F car would be 21 minutes, so we walked to Bay and Powell and caught another 8 bus.  It got very crowded going through Chinatown.  We got off at Market and went to the Palace Hotel.  We visited the Ghirardelli shop and had Quake Shakes.  We walked on Mission back to Fifth and Mission.  We listened to the Giants on the way back home.  They beat the Diamondbacks for the second day in a row. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Latest Model of French War Tank -- August 5, 2017

Bay St Louis, MS Sea Coast Echo, 04-August-1917
The St Charmont was a pioneering French heavy tank produced by FAMH.  The tracks were too short and narrow for the vehicle, so it didn't get around very well.  It carried a 75mm cannon in the nose. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Men of Nerve -- August 3, 2017

Topeka State Journal, 08-August-1917
Some sources say that 100 years ago today,on 03-August-1917, elements of the United States First Aero Squadron arrived in Europe, but I can't find any references in contemporary newspapers.  Here is an article from the 08-August-1917 Topeka State Journal about the country's plans for aviation.  Raoul Lufbery (only one r) was born in France to an American father and a French mother.  He served in the Foreign Legion and then as a pilot in the Aéronautique Militaire.  When the Lafayette Escadrille was formed to allow American volunteers to fight, Lufbery, an American citizen, was transferred.  When the US entered the war, he joined the Army Air Service.  He was killed in combat on 19-May-1918. Howard E Coffin, an automobile engineer and manufacturer, served as chairman of the Air Board. 

Observation Aviators Must Have Keen Eye for Detail.
Mastery of Machine Guns, Telegraphy, Camera, Requisites.
Greatest Reservoir in World, Says Aero Director.
Allies Sacrificed Best Airman Material in Trenches.


Paris, Aug. l8. -- Work to be done by American aviators which may mean success or failure of artillery and infantry was described by Lieut. Raoul Lufberry, premier fighter of the Lafayette escadrille. today, as he outlined to the United Press further qualifications the "cream of American youth" must have to carry the United States to success in the air.

"Mcn working in machines carrying two or more passengers must have many of the qualities of the chasers (described in a previous interview)," said Lufberry. "They can weigh 200 pounds, but success depends less on perfect physique for this type of air man, than on perfect nerves.

"Tho constantly under fire the air man must develop a painstaking eye for detail. He must have persistence and an enormous sense of self-discipline.

Observations Must Be Accurate.

Observations made from his machine may mean success or failure in his artillery or infantry.

"His nerves must hold him steadily to his task regardless of the guns that will be trying to bring him down.

"The observers carried in such machines are generally young artillery officers who have mastered the handling of machine guns, wireless telegraphy, and even photography.

"The pilots of these slower, heavier machines can be men lacking in the qualities of eye and temperament necessary to the faster game.

"The third general type of aviator is the bombardier. He must be capable of rapid, accurate handling of machine guns and small cannon, and be proficient in the extremely complicated art of aerial warfare.

On a Battle Plane.

"In this there are three principal factors. He must be able to gauge his own and his enemy's speed, and the velocity of the wind.

"It is frequently necessary to aim 100 feet in front of an enemy machine to make a hit.

"All on board a battle plane depends upon the bombardier's eye, his coolness and his ability to shoot. If he becomes rattled all is lost. For example a German gunner recently lost his nerve and hid in the body of the machine. The pilot became rattled, gave up and landed inside the French lines."

U. S. Can Meet Demands.

Washington. Aug. 8. -- America is ready to meet the precise aviation demands outlined in statements by Lieut. Raoul Lufberry to the United Press in France. Howard Coffin, chairman of the government aircraft production board, today, after reading Lufberry's comment, declared this country will furnish both the men and machines desired.

"One great point of advantage which must be borne in mind is that America is an almost inexhaustible reservoir for this particular type of men needed in the. air service," Coffin said today. "During the first year and a half of the war all allied countries and to a great extent even enemy countries were stripped of this type of men because of losses sustained in land fighting. These were men who were first to enlist at the outbreak of the war. The value of the air service had not then been demonstrated or appreciated and a vast quantity of human material which should have been reserved for air service, was sacrificed in trenches. So. we must remember, in considering the strategic advantage of the United States that this country is today the greatest reservoir of the world, not only for the material from which to manufacture aeroplanes but of the men of the particular quality to man them "

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sonoma and Pacifica -- August 2, 2017

I had the day off so we took a leisurely drive to the town of Sonoma.  We parked behind the Plaza and had lunch at the Cheese Factory.  We bought some Pesto Jack for our daughter.  The weather was in the mid-90s.  We took a walk around the Plaza, and then decided to head back.  Traffic was heavy above Sausalito. 

The blessed fog was still here in Pacifica.  We went to dinner at Pedro Point, where I took this photo. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Western Girls Train for Air Service -- August 1, 2017

Bay St Louis, MS Sea Coast Echo, 04-August-1917
People who owned boats often volunteered to serve as auxiliaries, patrolling bays and rivers looking for submarines, saboteurs or mines.  These six young ladies of Los Angeles offered to do the same with their airplanes. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Over the Top -- Tommy's Dictionary of the Trenches, Part Three -- July 31, 2017

Arthur Guy Empey was a member of the US Cavalry who resigned to volunteer for the British Army during World War One. He was wounded during the Battle of the Somme. When the US entered the war, he tried to rejoin the US Army, but was rejected because of his wounds and possibly because of some disparaging comments about American draftees. He wrote a book, Over the Top, about his experiences during the war.

"Tommy's Dictionary of the Trenches"  is a glossary of terms used by British soldiers.  I am presenting it in three parts.  

CHAPTER I -- From Mufti to Khaki
CHAPTER II -- Blighty to Rest Billets
CHAPTER III -- I Go to Church
CHAPTER IV -- Into the Trench
CHAPTER V -- Mud, Rats and Shells
CHAPTER VI -- "Back of the Line"
CHAPTER VII -- Rations
CHAPTER VIII -- The Little Wooden Cross

CHAPTER IX -- Suicide Annex  

CHAPTER X -- "The Day's Work" 
CHAPTER XI -- Over the Top CHAPTER XII -- Bombing  
CHAPTER XIII -- My First Official Bath    
CHAPTER XIV -- Picks and Shovels
CHAPTER XV -- Listening Post
CHAPTER XVI -- Battery D 238
CHAPTER XVII -- Out in Front  
CHAPTER XVIII - Staged Under Fire
CHAPTER XX -   Chats With Fritz
CHAPTER XXI -  "About Turn"
CHAPTER XXII -  Punishments and Machine-Gun Stunts
CHAPTER XXIII -  Gas Attacks and Spies
CHAPTER XXIV - The Firing Squad
CHAPTER XXV - Preparing For the Big Push 

CHAPTER XXVI - All Quiet (?) on the Western Front

Tommy's Dictionary of the Trenches, Part One  
Tommy's Dictionary of the Trenches, Part Two


In this so-called dictionary I have tried to list most of the pet terms and slangy definitions, which Tommy Atkins uses a thousand times a day as he is serving in France. I have gathered them as I lived with him in the trenches and rest billets, and later in the hospitals in England where I met men from all parts of the line.

The definitions are not official, of course. Tommy is not a sentimental sort of animal so some of his definitions are not exactly complimentary, but he is not cynical and does not mean to offend anyone higher up. It is just a sort of "ragging" or "kidding," as the American would say, that helps him pass the time away.


S. A. A. Small Arms Ammunition. Small steel pellets which have a bad habit of drilling holes in the anatomy of Tommy and Fritz.

Salvo. Battery firing four guns simultaneously.

Sandbag. A jute bag which is constantly being filled with earth. Its main uses are to provide Tommy with material for a comfortable kip and to strengthen parapets.

Sap. A small ditch, or trench, dug from the front line and leading out into "No Man's Land" in the direction of the German trenches.

Sapper. A man who saps or digs mines. He thinks he is thirty-three degrees above an ordinary soldier, while in fact he is generally beneath him.

Sausage Balloon. See observation balloon.

S. B. Stretcher Bearer. The motive power of a stretcher. He is generally looking the other way when a fourteen-stone Tommy gets hit.

Scaling ladder. Small wooden ladders used by Tommy for climbing out of the front trench when he goes "over the top." When Tommy sees these ladders being brought into the trench, he sits down and writes his will in his little paybook.

Sentry Go. Time on guard. It means "sentry come."

Sergeant's Mess. Where the sergeants eat. Nearly all of the rum has a habit of disappearing into the Sergeant's Mess.

Seventy-fives. A very efficient field-gun of the French, which can fire thirty shells per minute. The gun needs no relaying due to the recoil which throws the gun back to its original position. The gun that knocked out "Jack Johnson," therefore called "Jess Willard."

"Sewed in a blanket." Term for a soldier who has been buried. His remains are generally sewn in a blanket and the piece of blanket is generally deducted from his pay that is due.

Shag. Cigarette tobacco which an American can never learn to use. Even the mules object to the smell of it.

Shell. A device of the artillery which sometimes makes Tommy wish he had been born in a neutral country.

Shell Hole. A hole in the ground caused by the explosion of a shell. Tommy's favorite resting-place while under fire.

Shovel. A tool closely related to the pick family. In France the "shovel" is mightier than the sword.

Shrapnel. A shell which bursts in the air and scatters small pieces of metal over a large area. It is used to test the resisting power of steel helmets.

"Sicker." Nickname for the sick report book. It is Tommy's ambition to get on this "sicker" without feeling sick.

Sick Parade. A formation at which the doctor informs sick, or would-be sick Tommies that they are not sick.

Sixty-pounder. One of our shells which weighs sixty pounds (officially). When Tommy handles them, their unofficial weight is three hundred weight.

Slacker. An insect in England who is afraid to join the Army. There are three things in this world that Tommy hates: a slacker, a German, and a trench-rat; it's hard to tell which he hates worst.

"Slag Heap." A pile of rubbish, tin cans, etc.

Smoke Bomb. A shell which, in exploding, emits a dense white smoke, hiding the operations of troops. When Tommy, in attacking a trench, gets into this smoke, he imagines himself a magnet and thinks all the machine guns and rifles are firing at him alone.

Smoke Helmet. See respirator.

Sniper. A good shot whose main occupation is picking off unwary individuals of the enemy. In the long run a sniper usually gets "sniped."

Snipe Hole. A hole in a steel plate through which snipers "snipe." It is not fair for the enemy to shoot at these holes, but they do, and often hit them, or at least the man behind them.

"Soldiers' Friend." Metal polish costing three ha' pence which Tommy uses to polish his buttons. Tommy wonders why it is called "Soldiers' Friend."

"Somewhere in France." A certain spot in France where Tommy has to live in mud, hunt for "cooties," and duck shells and bullets. Tommy's official address.

Souvenir. A begging word used by the French kiddies. When it is addressed to Tommy it generally means, a penny, biscuits, bully beef, or a tin of jam.

Spy. A suspicious person whom no one suspects until he is caught. Then all say they knew he was a spy but had no chance to report it to the proper authorities.

"Spud." Tommy's name for the solitary potato which gets into the stew. It's a great mystery how that lonely little spud got into such bad company.

Stand To. Order to mount the fire step. Given just as it begins to grow dark.

Stand Down. Order given in the trenches at break of dawn to let the men know their night watch is ended. It has a pleasant sound in Tommy's ears.

Star Shell. See Flare.

Steel Helmet. A round hat made out of steel which is supposed to be shrapnel proof. It is until a piece of shell goes through it, then Tommy loses interest as to whether it is shrapnel proof or not. He calls it a "tin hat."

Stew. A concoction of the cook's which contains bully beef, Maconochie rations, water, a few lumps of fresh meat, and a potato. Occasionally a little salt falls into it by mistake. Tommy is supposed to eat this mess—he does—worse luck!

"Strafeing." Tommy's chief sport—shelling the Germans. Taken from Fritz's own dictionary.

Stretcher. A contrivance on which dead and wounded are carried. The only time Tommy gets a free ride in the trenches is while on a stretcher. As a rule he does not appreciate this means of transportation.

"Suicide Club." Nickname for bombers and machine gunners. (No misnomer.)

Supper. Tommy's fourth meal, generally eaten just before "lights out." It is composed of the remains of the day's rations. There are a lot of Tommies who never eat supper. There is a reason.

S. W. Shell wound. What the doctor marks on your hospital chart when a shell has removed your leg.

Swamping. Putting on airs; showing off. Generally accredited to Yankees.

"Swinging the lead." Throwing the bull.

"Sweating on leave." Impatiently waiting for your name to appear in orders for leave. If Tommy sweats very long he generally catches cold and when leave comes he is too sick to go.


"Taking over." Going into a trench. Tommy "takes over," is " taken out," and sometimes is " put under."

Taube. A type of German aeroplane whose special ambition is beating the altitude record. It occasionally loses its way and flies over the British lines and then stops flying.

Tea. A dark brown drug, which Tommy has to have at certain periods of the day. Battles have been known to have been stopped to enable Tommy to get his tea, or "char" as it is commonly called.

"Tear Shell." Trench name for the German lachrymose chemical shell which makes the eyes smart. The only time Tommy is outwardly sentimental.

Telephone. A little instrument with a wire attached to it. An artillery observer whispers something into this instrument and immediately one of your batteries behind the line opens up and drops a few shells into your front trench. This keeps up until the observer whispers, "Your range is too short." Then the shells drop nearer the German lines.

"Terrier." Tommy's nickname for a Territorial or "Saturday-night soldier." A regular despises a Territorial while a Territorial looks down on "Kitchener's Mob." Kitchener's Mob has the utmost contempt for both of them.

Territorial. A peace-time soldier with the same status as the American militiaman. Before the war they were called "Saturday-Night Soldiers," but they soon proved themselves "every-night soldiers."

"The Old Man." Captain of a company. He is called "the old man," because generally his age is about twenty-eight.

"The Best o' Luck." The Jonah phrase of the trenches. Every time Tommy goes over the top or on a trench raid his mates wish him the best o' luck. It means that if you are lucky enough to come back, you generally have an arm or leg missing.

"Thumbs up." Tommy's expression which means "everything is fine with me." Very seldom used during an intense bombardment.

"Time ex." Expiration of term of enlistment. The only time Tommy is a civilian in the trenches; but about ten minutes after he is a soldier for duration of war.

"Tin Hat." Tommy's name for his steel helmet which is made out of a metal about as hard as mush. The only advantage is that it is heavy and greatly adds to the weight of Tommy's equipment. Its most popular use is for carrying eggs.

T. N. T. A high explosive which the Army Ordnance Corps prescribes for Fritz. Fritz prefers a No. 9 pill.

"Tommy Atkins." The name England gives to an English soldier, even if his name is Willie Jones.

Tommy's Cooker. A spirit stove widely advertised as "A suitable gift to the men in the trenches." Many are sent out to Tommy and most of them are thrown away.

Tonite. The explosive contained in a rifle grenade. It looks like a harmless reel of cotton before it explodes,—after it explodes the spectator is missing.

"Toots Sweet." Tommy's French for "hurry up," "look smart." Generally used in a French estaminet when Tommy only has a couple of minutes in which to drink his beer.

"Top Hats at Home." Tommy's name for Parliament when his application for leave has been turned down or when no strawberry jam arrives with the rations.

Town Major. An officer stationed in a French town or village who is supposed to look after billets, upkeep of roads, and act as interpreter.

Transport. An aggregation of mules, limbers, and rough riders, whose duty is to keep the men in the trenches supplied with rations and supplies. Sometimes a shell drops within two miles of them and Tommy doesn't get his rations, etc.

Traverse. Sandbags piled in a trench so that the trench cannot be traversed by Tommy. Sometimes it prevents enfilading fire by the enemy.

Trench. A ditch full of water, rats, and soldiers. During his visit to France, Tommy uses these ditches as residences. Now and again he sticks his head "over the top" to take a look at the surrounding scenery. If he is lucky he lives to tell his mates what he saw.

Trench Feet. A disease of the feet contracted in the trenches from exposure to extreme cold and wet. Tommy's greatest ambition is to contract this disease because it means "Blighty" for him.

Trench Fever. A malady contracted in the trenches; the symptoms are high temperature, bodily pains, and homesickness. Mostly homesickness. A bad case lands Tommy in "Blighty," a slight case lands him back in the trenches, where he tries to get it worse than ever.

"Trenchitis." A combination of "fedupness" and homesickness, experienced by Tommy in the trenches, especially when he receives a letter from a friend in Blighty who is making a fortune working in a munition plant.

Trench Mortar. A gun like a stove pipe which throws shells at the German trenches. Tommy detests these mortars because when they take positions near to him in the trenches, he knows that it is only a matter of minutes before a German shell with his name and number on it will be knocking at his door.

Trench Pudding. A delectable mess of broken biscuits, condensed milk, jam, and mud, slightly flavored with smoke. Tommy prepares, cooks, and eats this. Next day he has "trench fever."

Trench Raid. Several men detailed to go over the top at night and shake hands with the Germans, and, if possible, persuade some of them to be prisoners. At times the raiders would themselves get raided because Fritz refused to shake and adopted nasty methods.

Turpenite. A deadly chemical shell invented by an enthusiastic war correspondent suffering from brain storm. Companies and batteries were supposed to die standing up from its effects, but they refused to do this.

"Twelve in one." Means that twelve men are to share one loaf of bread. When the slicing takes place the war in the dugout makes the European argument look like thirty cents.


"Up against the wall." Tommy's term for a man who is to be shot by a firing squad.

"Up the line." Term generally used in rest billets when Tommy talks about the fire trench or fighting line. When orders are issued to go "up the line" Tommy immediately goes "up in the air."


V. C. Victoria Cross, or "Very careless" as Tommy calls it. It is a bronze medal won by Tommy for being very careless with his life.

Very-Lights. A star shell invented by Mr. Very. See Flare.

Vickers Gun. A machine gun improved on by a fellow named Vickers. His intentions were good but his improvements, according to Tommy, were "rotten."

Vin Blanc. French white wine made from vinegar. They forgot the red ink.

Vin Rouge. French red wine made from vinegar and red ink. Tommy pays good money for it.


Waders. Rubber hip boots, used when the water in the trenches is up to Tommy's neck.

Waiting Man.  The cleanest man at guard mounting.  He does not have to walk post; is supposed to wait on the guard. 

Washout.  Tommy's idea of something that is worth nothing. 

Water Bottle.  A metal bottle for carrying water (when not used for rum, beer or wine). 

Waterproof.  A rubber sheet issued to Tommy to keep him dry.  It does when the sun is out. 

Wave.  A line of troops which goes "over the top" in a charge.  The waves are numbered according to their turn in going over, viz., "First Wave," "Second Wave," etc.  Tommy would sooner go over with the "Tenth Wave." 

Wet Canteen.  A military saloon or pub where Tommy can get a "wet."  Most campaigns and battles are planned and fought in these places. 

"Whizz Bang."  A small German shell which whizzes through the air and explodes with a "bang."  Their bark is worse than their bite. 

"Wind Up."  Term generally applied to the Germans when they send up several star shells at once because they are nervous and expect an attack or night raid on their trenches. 

"Windy."  Tommy's name for a nervous soldier, coward. 

"Wipers."  Tommy's name for Ypres, sometimes he calls it "Yeeps"  A place up the line which Tommy likes to duck. It is even "hot" in the winter time at "Wipers." 

Wire.  See barbed wire, but don't go "over the top" to look at it.  It isn't safe. 

Wire Cutters.  An instrument for cutting barbed wire, but mostly used for driving nails. 

Wiring Party.  Another social affair for which Tommy receives invitations.  It consists of going "over the top"  at night and stretching barbed wire between stakes.  A German machine gun generally takes the place of an orchestra. 

Woodbine.  A cigarette made of paper and old hay.  Tommy swears by a Woodbine. 

Wooden Cross.  Two pieces of wood in the form of a cross placed at the head of a Tommy's grave  Inscribed on it are his rank, name, number, and regiment.  Also date of death and last but not least, the letters R.I.P. 

Working Party.  A sort of compulsory invitation affair for which Tommy is often honored with an invitation.  It consists of digging, filling sandbags, and ducking shells and bullets. 


Zeppelin.  A bag full of gas invented by a count full of gas.  It is a dirigible airship used by the Germans for killing babies and dropping bombs in open fields.  You never see them over the trenches, it is safer to bombard civilians in cities.  They use Iron Crosses for ballast. 

This is the end of Over the Top by Arthur Guy Empey.  Thank you to those who have been reading it.  I believe the book is in the public domain. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Huge Reflector Taken Up Mountain To Photograph New Wonders of Sky! -- July 29, 2017

Fairmont West Virginian, 19-July-1917
The Hooker Telescope at the Mount Wilson Observatory in Southern California was the largest in the world until 1949. The truck in the photograph is a Mack. Among other things, the telescope helped to find evidence for the existence of dark matter. 

Taking the famous Hooker reflector up Mt Wilson, where it will be Installed in the Carnegie Observatory for use in new scientific research.

Anonymous letters had been received by observatory officials, threatening the destruction of the huge mirror. Three armed guards watched the reflector on the circulated (sic - JT) trip up the mountain, and 100 spectators and a regiment of photographers followed the ascent.

The reflector, a gift of E. L. Hooker of Los Angeles, cost $60,000 and is the largest in the world, being 100 inches in diameter and 13 inches thick. It weighs four and a half tons. The rough cast was made in 8t, Bobain, France, in 1905. The glass was brought to Pasadena in 1909. Grinding the mirror began in 1911.

Scientists hope to reveal new celestial wonders when the new mirror is installed. According to Dr. W. S. Adams, in charge of the observatory in the absence of Dr. George Ellery Hale, now in Washington, the reflector will be in commission by September.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sickly Boy In Two Years Becomes World's Most Valuable Soldier -- July 27, 2017

Fairmont West Virginian, 19-July-1917
Georges Guynemer was France's greatest fighter ace.  He was from an aristocratic family.  He was not allowed to enlist in the war because of tuberculosis.  He was finally accepted as a mechanic and then became a pilot.  100 years ago today, on 27-July-1917, he scored his fiftieth victory.  This article from the 19-July-1917 Fairmont West Virginian talks about his exploits.

Adolphe Pégoud was a great flier who was shot down and killed in 1915.  



WASHINGTON, D. C., July 18.~The most valuable soldier In the world today is a youth of 22, who when he enlisted was a sickly-looking boy in the first stages of consumption.

Today, France would rather part with two whole army divisions than lose George Guynemer!

He is the uncrowned "king of the air," who has brought down 45 German airplanes.

As one aviator is worth 1,000 ordinary troops, Guynemer has strategically wiped out 45,000 Germans. No one soldier ever before approached this pale Frenchman's military value.

Capt. Amaury de La Grange, head of the French aviation commission now in the United States, today told me all about Guynemer, and explained the tactics that have won him undisputed supremacy as a fighter in the air. Said de La Grange:

"George Guynemer, now only twenty-two years old, began training in February, 1915, on the eve of his examinations for the Polytechnical school.

"He was tall, slim, delicate, so one feared he might have lung trouble. He had never gone in for sports, and was almost the last man to be picked as promising material for a pilot.

"He finished training in three and a half months, not remarkable when compared with Lieut. Tetu's six weeks. Less than a month after his arrival at the front, armed only with an army rifle, he brought down his first enemy.

"His plan of campaign against an enemy machine is simple.

"Now remarkably skillful, Guynemer always tries to place himself in a following position so he will not be seen. With wonderful courage he approaches as near at possible without firing, keeping below and behind hie adversary.

"When he comes almost up to him (90 to 150 feet) he makes his plane rear up like a spirited charger and opens fire.

"He la an excellent shot and usually disables his opponent In the first round, but in case he dose not he tries to break the fight by some acrobatic maneuver (a half-loop, spins, or several sharp turns).

"Guynemer is almost alone in the use of these tactics, as most of the other "Aces" (pilots who have brought down five machines) prefer to open fire at greater distances. Guynemer's tactios were also employed by Pegoud, the greatest flyer at the beginning of the war."

The story of Guynemer ought to be an Inspiration to every young American flyer.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Boy Scout Disgrace -- July 26, 2017

I have avoided mentioning our so-called president in this blog, but he has managed to disgrace himself and the Boy Scouts of America.  I did not go far in Scouting, but I enjoyed it.  I was a second generation Scout.  Monday evening our so-called president addressed the kids at the National Boy Scout Jamboree. Our so-called president delivered a disjointed rant about politics, and got the kids to boo former President Barack Obama and popular vote winner Hillary Clinton.  President Obama was a Boy Scout.  Our so-called president was not.  Our so-called president used improper language and finished with a smutty story.  I hope the BSA will apologize for this nightmare.  #BSAChief


Update 28-August-2017: 

Boy Scouts of America Chief Executive Michael Surbaugh issued a statement:

July 27, 2017
Scouting Family,

In the last two weeks, we have celebrated the best of Scouting at our 20th National Jamboree with nearly 40,000 participants, volunteers, staff and visitors. The 2017 National Jamboree has showcased and furthered the Scouting mission by combining adventure and leadership development to give youth life-changing experiences. Scouts from Alaska met Scouts from Alabama; Scouts from New Mexico met those from New York, and American youth met youth from 59 other countries.

Over the course of ten days, Scouts have taken part in adventures, learned new skills, made new and lasting friendships and completed over 200 community service projects that offered 100,000 hours of service to the community by young men and women eager to do the right thing for the right reasons.

These character-building experiences have not diminished in recent days at the jamboree –  Scouts have continued to trade patches, climb rock walls, and share stories about the day’s adventures. But for our Scouting family at home not able to see these real moments of Scouting, we know the past few days have been overshadowed by the remarks offered by the President of the United States.

I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree. That was never our intent. The invitation for the sitting U.S. President to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition that has been extended to the leader of our nation that has had a Jamboree during his term since 1937. It is in no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies. For years, people have called upon us to take a position on political issues, and we have steadfastly remained non-partisan and refused to comment on political matters. We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program.

While we live in a challenging time in a country divided along political lines, the focus of Scouting remains the same today as every day.

Trustworthiness, loyalty, kindness and bravery are just a few of the admirable traits Scouts aspire to develop – in fact, they make up the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

As part of our program’s duty to country, we teach youth to become active citizens, to participate in their government, respect the variety of perspectives and to stand up for individual rights.

Few will argue the importance of teaching values and responsibility to our youth — not only right from wrong, but specific positive values such as fairness, courage, honor and respect for others.
For all of the adventure we provide youth such as hiking, camping and zip-lining, those activities actually serve as proven pathways and opportunities to develop leadership skills and become people of character.

In a time when differences seem to separate our country, we hope the true spirit of Scouting will empower our next generation of leaders to bring people together to do good in the world.

Yours in Scouting,



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Summer of Love 50 -- Zeitgeist, Hell's Angels -- June 23, 2017

The San Francisco Arts Commission ( has set up a series of posters by artist Deborah Aschheim.  "The Zeitgeist" is part of a larger series for the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.  The posters in The Zeitgeist represent people involved in the Spring Mobilization against the War in Vietnam on 15-April-1967.  Among the members of the counterculture who attended the Human Be-In at the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park was the member of the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

1897 Boston Beaneaters -- July 21, 2017

1897 Spalding Baseball Guide
The Boston Beaneaters were part of the National League when it was founded in 1876.  The 1897 Beaneaters finished first in the National League with a record of 93-39.  Manager Frank Selee is forgotten today, but he was one of the best managers of the 1890s.  Captain Hugh Duffy was an outfielder who later became a great manager.  He is in the Hall of Fame.  Fred Tenney caught and played first base.  Bobby Lowe played second. 

The Beaneaters became the Braves in 1912 and were called the Bees for a while in the 1930s.  The Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953 and to Atlanta in 1966. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Chariots and Charioteers -- July 19, 2017

I'm still in shock about the conclusion of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus last month.  One of its major components was the Ringling Brothers circus. My parents had a reprint of this poster on the basement wall.  It was in a program from the circus that celebrated some anniversary. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Russian Imperial Family Murdered -- July 17, 2017
100 years ago, on 17-July-2017, Bolshevik revolutionaries murdered the Russian imperial family, who were imprisoned in Yekaterinburg.  The Soviets did not admit the whole family was dead for another eight years, and many people were convinced that the youngest daughter, Anastasia, had escaped.  She didn't.

I don't have a lot of sympathy for the Romanovs, but no one deserves to die that way.  

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Belgian Steam Motor -- July 15, 2017

Street Railway Review, 15-Jan-1901
In January, 1892 the North Chicago Street Railroad tested a steam dummy from Belgium.  It must have been very hot when the windows were closed and during the winter, the windows probably steamed up. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Swashathon 2 -- A Blogathon of Swashbuckling Adventure -- July 14, 2017

Motion Picture News, 15-January-1921
This post is part of  Swashathon 2 -- A Blogathon of Swashbuckling Adventure, hosted by Fritzi at Movies Silently.  I agree with Fritzi that the first Swashathon may have been my favorite blogathon yet.  For the first Swashathon, I wrote about the Robin Hood of the West, the Cisco Kid:
Cisco Kid Was a Friend of Mine 

This time, I am writing about Johnston McCulley's Zorro.  I'm going to concentrate on English-language movies and other media.

Like the Cisco Kid, Zorro was unusual because he was a Hispanic hero in American movies, on American television and in American pulp magazines and comic books.  Don Diego de la Vega was a Californio aristocrat.  Californios were people of Spanish or mixed Spanish-native descent in  California during the period after Mexican independence in 1821 and before the US took over in 1846.  Diego takes the secret identity of Zorro (The Fox) to fight against corrupt officials and other villains who oppress the common people.  Zorro made his mark, a letter "Z" formed with three slashes of his sword, as a warning to evildoers and a sign of hope to the oppressed...

Read the rest on my other blog: 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

2017 Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest -- July 13, 2017

Congratulations to Byron Cobb for winning the 2017 Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest. This is his seventh win.  I was very happy that my wife was able to come with me.  It was her first contest. 

1936 Auburn Model 852 Cabriolet -- July 13, 2017

We visited the Blackhawk Museum in June, 2013 to drool over their collection of classic autos. This1936 Auburn Model 852 supercharged Cabriolet has a body by Parisian coachbuilder Jean Henri Labourdette.  Maurice Chevalier owned it at one time. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Captain Marvel -- July 11, 2017

Captain Marvel, the Big Red Cheese, made his debut in Whiz Comics #2, published by Fawcett.  Fawcett had earlier published the humor magazine Captain Billy's Whiz Bang.  The Captain was Billy Batson, a boy who worked for radio station WHIZ.  An ancient wizard gave him the ability to become adult Captain Marvel by saying the word "SHAZAM."  Captain Marvel, often drawn by CC Beck, was Superman's greatest competitor until National Periodicals (DC) won a lawsuit alleging that Captain Marvel infringed on Superman's copyright.  At the same time, most superhero titles were dead or declining.  DC revived Captain Marvel in the 1970s.

Here he leads Marine ashore during the island hopping campaign against Japan.  Spy Smasher, another Fawcett hero, also appears on the cover.

Captain Marvel appeared in a 1941 Republic serial:

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Spicy Adventure -- July 9, 2017
The Spicy pulps from Culture Publications, Spicy Adventure, Spicy Detective, Spicy Mystery and Spicy Western, were too intellectual for some people, but they remained popular for several years. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Famous Fast Yankee Clipper Ship America -- July 7, 2017

San Francisco Call, 07-May-1895
The drawing is from the 07-May-1895 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. 

The Old Massachusetts Ship America, the Fastest on the Seas.
A Voyage of Eighty-eight Days Between San Francisco and Liverpool.

The clipper ship America, Captain Harding, came in from Nanaimo last Friday with 4157 tons of coal, making her usual quick passage.

For twenty years the famous vessel has been slipping her graceful self over the ocean with greater ease and more speed than any other vessel on the seas. She was built in Quincy, Mass., in 1874 and is
of 2054.93 gross tons register, though she will carry twice that number. She is 232:8 feet long, 43:1 feet beam and 19:3 in depth.

Notwithstanding her ample beam amidships, she is very sharp forward, which accounts for her ability to sail in any breeze. Some fifteen years ago she made her remarkable trip from this port to Liverpool in eighty-eight days, beating the usual fast sailing time just twenty-two days.

Nor did she stop her speedy work at that, for she has since sailed it in ninety three days. She is one of the strangely lucky ships, and the winds always blow fair for her. Her hull is one of the most graceful ever shaped. She formerly carried skysails, but her masts were afterward shortened down to royals. When launched she was fitted with "built" lower masts, as all the larger-sparred Eastern vessels are, there being no sticks big enough on the Atlantic seaboard. But the fore and mizzen being old and weak, were replaced on this coast with whole timbers.

After a score of years' service, the America is as sound as when she slid from her New England ways, and twenty more years will probably see her speeding over the seas, a solid Yankee clipper, one of the school of craft that has made the merchant marine of the great Republic famous the world around.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Elie Wiesel, RIP -- July 5, 2017


Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel has died.  He taught a lot of people about the Shoah. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Independence Day 2017 -- July 4, 2017
Happy Fourth of July to all.  241 years ago, we declared our independence.  I find it hard to believe it has been 41 years since the bicentennial. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Aeroplanes over the Captitol -- July 3, 2017
The cover of the 03-July-1918 Literary Digest features three US Army airplanes over the Capitol dome. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Canada 150 -- July 1, 2017

Happy Canada Day to all my friends in Canada.  150 years ago today, three British colonies confederated into one dominion. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Over the Top -- Tommy's Dictionary of the Trenches, Part Two -- June 30, 2017

Arthur Guy Empey was a member of the US Cavalry who resigned to volunteer for the British Army during World War One. He was wounded during the Battle of the Somme. When the US entered the war, he tried to rejoin the US Army, but was rejected because of his wounds and possibly because of some disparaging comments about American draftees. He wrote a book, Over the Top, about his experiences during the war.

"Tommy's Dictionary of the Trenches"  is a glossary of terms used by British soldiers.  I am presenting it in three parts.  

Jack Johnson was the first African-American heavyweight champion.  

CHAPTER I -- From Mufti to Khaki
CHAPTER II -- Blighty to Rest Billets
CHAPTER III -- I Go to Church
CHAPTER IV -- Into the Trench
CHAPTER V -- Mud, Rats and Shells
CHAPTER VI -- "Back of the Line"
CHAPTER VII -- Rations
CHAPTER VIII -- The Little Wooden Cross

CHAPTER IX -- Suicide Annex  

CHAPTER X -- "The Day's Work" 
CHAPTER XI -- Over the Top CHAPTER XII -- Bombing  
CHAPTER XIII -- My First Official Bath    
CHAPTER XIV -- Picks and Shovels
CHAPTER XV -- Listening Post
CHAPTER XVI -- Battery D 238
CHAPTER XVII -- Out in Front  
CHAPTER XVIII - Staged Under Fire
CHAPTER XX -   Chats With Fritz
CHAPTER XXI -  "About Turn"
CHAPTER XXII -  Punishments and Machine-Gun Stunts
CHAPTER XXIII -  Gas Attacks and Spies
CHAPTER XXIV - The Firing Squad
CHAPTER XXV - Preparing For the Big Push 

CHAPTER XXVI - All Quiet (?) on the Western Front

Tommy's Dictionary of the Trenches, Part One 


In this so-called dictionary I have tried to list most of the pet terms and slangy definitions, which Tommy Atkins uses a thousand times a day as he is serving in France. I have gathered them as I lived with him in the trenches and rest billets, and later in the hospitals in England where I met men from all parts of the line.

The definitions are not official, of course. Tommy is not a sentimental sort of animal so some of his definitions are not exactly complimentary, but he is not cynical and does not mean to offend anyone higher up. It is just a sort of "ragging" or "kidding," as the American would say, that helps him pass the time away.


"Jack Johnson." A seventeen-inch German shell. Probably called "Jack Johnson" because the Germans thought that with it they could lick the world.

Jackknife. A knife, issued to Tommy, which weighs a stone and won't cut. Its only virtue is the fact that it has a tin-opener attachment which won't open tins.

Jam. A horrible mess of fruit and sugar which Tommy spreads on his bread. It all tastes the same no matter whether labelled "Strawberry" or "Green Gage."

"Jam Tin." A crude sort of hand grenade which, in the early stages of the war, Tommy used to manufacture out of jam tins, ammonal, and mud. The manufacturer generally would receive a little wooden cross in recognition of the fact that he died for King and Country.

Jock. Universal name for a Scotchman.


"Kicked the bucket." Died.

Kilo. Five eighths of a mile. Ten "kilos" generally means a trek of fifteen miles.

"King's Shilling." Tommy's rate of pay per day, perhaps. "Taking the King's Shilling" means enlisting.

"Kip." Tommy's term for "sleep." He also calls his bed his "kip." It is on guard that Tommy most desires to kip.

Kit Bag. A part of Tommy's equipment in which he is supposed to pack up his troubles and smile, according to the words of a popular song (the composer was never in a trench).

Kitchener's Army. The volunteer army raised by Lord Kitchener, the members of which signed for duration of war. They are commonly called the "New Army" or "Kitchener's Mob." At first the Regulars and Territorials looked down on them, but now accept them as welcome mates.


Labor Battalion. An organization which is "too proud to fight."  They would sooner use a pick and shovel.

Lance-Corporal. A N. C. O. one grade above a private who wears a shoestring stripe on his arm and thinks the war should be run according to his ideas.

"Lead." The leading pair of horses or mules on a limber. Their only fault is that they won't lead (if they happen to be mules).

Leave Train. The train which takes Tommy to one of the seaports on the Channel en route to Blighty when granted leave. The worst part of going on leave is coming back.

Lee Enfield. Name of the rifiVused by the British Army. Its caliber is .303 and the magazine holds ten rounds. When dirty it has a nasty habit of getting Tommy's name on the crime sheet.

"Legging it." Running away.

Lewis Gun. A rifle-like machine gun, air cooled, which only carries 47 rounds in its "pie-plate" magazine. Under fire when this magazine is emptied you shout for "ammo" but perhaps No. 2, the ammo carrier, is lying in the rear with a bullet through his napper. Then it's "napoo-fini" (Tommy's French) for Mr. Lewis.

"Light Duty." What the doctor marks on the sick report opposite a Tommy's name when he has doubts as to whether said Tommy is putting one over on him. Usually Tommy is.

Light Railway. Two thin iron tracks on which small flat cars full of ammunition and supplies are pushed. These railways afford Tommy great sport in the loading, pushing, and unloading of cars.

Limber. A match box on two wheels which gives the Army mule a job. It also carries officer's packs

Liquid Fire. Another striking example of German "Kultur." According to the Germans it is supposed to annihilate whole brigades, but Tommy refuses to be annihilated.

Listening Post. Two or three men detailed to go out "in front" at night, to lie on the ground and listen for any undue activity in the German lines. They also listen for the digging of mines. It is nervous work and when Tommy returns he generally writes for a box of "Phosperine Tablets," a widely advertised nerve tonic.

"Little Willie." Tommy's nickname for the German Crown Prince. They are not on speaking terms.

"Lloyd George's Pets." Munition workers in England.

"Lonely Soldier." A soldier who advertises himself as "lonely" through the medium of some English newspaper. If he is clever and diplomatic by this method he generally receives two or three parcels a week, but he must be careful not to write to two girls living on the same block or his parcel post mail will diminish.

"Lonely Stab." A girl who writes and sends parcels to Tommy. She got his name from the "Lonely Soldier Column" of some newspaper.

Loophole. A disguised aperture in a trench through which to "snipe" at Germans.

Lyddite. A high explosive used in shells. Has a habit of scattering bits of anatomy over the landscape.


M. G. C. Machine Gun Corps. A collection of machine gunners who think they are the deciding factor of the war, and that artillery is unnecessary.

M. G. Machine Gunner. A man who, like an American policeman, is never there when he is badly wanted.

Maconochie. A ration of meat, vegetables, and soapy water, contained in a tin. Mr. Maconochie, the chemist who compounded this mess, intends to commit "hari kari" before the boys return from the front. He is wise.

"Mad Minute." Firing fifteen rounds from your rifle in sixty seconds. A man is mad to attempt it, especially with a stiff bolt.

Mail Bag. A canvas bag which is used to bring the other fellow's mail around.

Major. An officer in a Battalion who wears a crown on his uniform, is in command of two companies, and corrects said companies in the second position of "present arms." He also resides in a dugout.

Maneuvers. Useless evolutions of troops conceived by someone higher up to show Tommy how brave his officers are and how battles should be fought. The enemy never attend these maneuvers to prove they're right.

Mass Formation. A close order formation in which the Germans attack. It gives them a sort of "Come on, I'm with you" feeling. They would "hold hands" only for the fact that they have to carry their rifles. Tommy takes great delight in "busting up" these gatherings.

Mate. A soldier with whom Tommy is especially "chummy." Generally picked because this soldier receives a parcel from home every week.

Maxim. Type of machine gun which has been supplanted by the Vickers in order to make Tommy unlearn what he has been taught about the Maxim.

M. T. Mechanical Transport. The members of which are ex-taxi drivers. No wonder Tommy's rations melt away when the M. T. carries them.

M. O. Medical Officer. A doctor specially detailed to tell Tommy that he is not sick.

"M. and D." What the doctor marks on the " sicker" or sick report when he thinks Tommy is faking sickness. It means medicine and duty.

Mentioned in Despatches. Recommended for bravery. Tommy would sooner be recommended for leave. .

"Mercy Kamerad." What Fritz says when he has had a bellyful of fighting and wants to surrender. Of late this has been quite a popular phrase with him, replacing the Hymn of Hate.

Mess Orderly. A soldier detailed daily to carry Tommy's meals to and from the cook-house.

Mess Tin. An article of equipment used as a tea-kettle and dinner-set.

"Mike and George." K.C.M.G. (Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George). An award for bravery in the field.

Military Cross. A badge of honor dished out to officers for bravery. Tommy insists they throw dice to see which is the bravest. The winner gets the medal.

Military Medal. A piece of junk issued to Tommy who has done something that is not exactly brave but still is not cowardly. When it is presented he takes it and goes back wondering why the Army picks on him.

M. P. Military Police. Soldiers with whom it is unsafe to argue.

"Mills." Name of a bomb invented by Mills. The only bomb in which Tommy has full confidence,—and he mistrusts even that

Mine. An underground tunnel dug by sappers of the Royal Engineer Corps. This tunnel leads from your trench to that of the enemy's. At the end or head of the tunnel a great quantity of explosives are stored which at a given time are exploded. It is Tommy's job to then go "over the top" and occupy the crater caused by the explosion.

Mine Shaft. A shaft leading down to the "gallery" or tunnel of a mine. Sometimes Tommy, as a reward, is given the job of helping the R. E.'s dig this shaft.

Minnenwerfer. A high-power trench mortar shell of the Germans, which makes no noise coming through the air. It was invented by Professor Kultur. Tommy does not know it is near until it bites him; after that nothing worries him. Tommy nicknames them "Minnies."

Mouth Organ. An instrument with which a vindictive Tommy causes misery to the rest of his platoon. Some authorities define it as a "musical instrument."

Mud. A brownish, sticky substance found in the trenches after the frequent rains. A true friend to Tommy, which sticks to him like glue, even though at times Tommy resents this affection and roundly curses said mud.

Mufti. The term Tommy gives to civilian clothes. Mufti looks good to him now.


Nap. A card game of Tommy's in which the one who stays awake the longest grabs the pot. If all the players fall asleep, the pot goes to the "Wounded Soldiers' Fund."

"Napoo-Fini." Tommy's French for gone, through with, finished, disappeared.

"Napper." Tommy's term for head.

Neutral. Tommy says it means "afraid to fight."

Next of Kin. Nearest relative. A young and ambitious platoon officer bothers his men two or three times a month taking a record of their "next of kin," because he thinks that Tommy's grandmother may have changed to his uncle.

"Night ops." Slang for night operations or maneuvers.

Nine-point-two. A howitzer which fires a shell 9.2 inches in diameter, and knocks the tiles off the roof of Tommy's billet through the force of its concussion.

No Man's Land. The space between the hostile trenches called "No Man's Land" because no one owns it and no one wants to. In France you could not give it away.

N. C. C. Non-Combatant Corps. Men who joined the Army under the stipulation that the only thing they would fight for would be their meals. They have no "King and Country."

N. C. O. Non-commissioned officer. A person hated more than the Germans. Tommy says his stripes are issued out with the rations, and he ought to know.

"No. 9." A pill the doctor gives^you if you are suffering with corns or barber's itch or any disease at all. If none are in stock, he gives you a No. 6 and No. 3, or a No. 5 and No. 4, anything to make nine.

Nosecap. That part of a shell which unscrews and contains the device and scale for setting the time fuse. Some Tommies are ardent souvenir hunters. As soon as a shell bursts in the ground you will see them out with picks and shovels digging in the shell hole for the nose cap. If the shell bursts too near them they don't dig.


Observation Balloon. A captive balloon behind the lines which observes the enemy. The enemy doesn't mind being observed, so takes no notice of it. It gives someone a job hauling it down at night, so it has one good point.

Observation Post. A position in the front line where an artillery officer observes the fire of our guns. He keeps on observing until a German shell observes him. After this there is generally a new officer and a new observation post.

O. C. Officer commanding.

Officers' Mess. Where the officers eat the mess that the O. S. have cooked.

O. S. Officers' servants. The lowest ranking private in the Army, who feeds better than the officers he waits on.

"Oil Cans." Tommy's term for a German trench mortar shell, which is an old tin filled with explosive and junk that the Boches have no further use for.

"One up." Tommy's term for a lance-corporal who wears one stripe. The private always wonders why he was overlooked when promotions were in order.

"On the mat." When Tommy is haled before his commanding officer to explain why he has broken one of the seven million King's regulations for the government of the Army. His "explanation" never gets him anywhere unless it is on the wheel of a limber.

"On your own." Another famous or infamous phrase which means Tommy is allowed to do as he pleases. An officer generally puts Tommy "on his own" when he gets Tommy into a dangerous position and sees no way to extricate him.

Orderly-Corporal. A non-commissioned officer who takes the names of the sick every morning and who keeps his own candle burning after he has ordered "Lights out" at night.

Orderly-Officer. An officer who, for a week, goes around and asks if there are "any complaints" and gives the name of the complaining soldier to the Orderly-Sergeant for extra pack drill.

Orderly Room. The Captain's office where everything is disorderly.

Orderly-Sergeant. A sergeant who, for a week, is supposed to do the work of the Orderly-Officer.

"Out of bounds." The official Army term meaning that Tommy is not allowed to trespass where this sign is displayed. He never wished to until the sign made its appearance.

"Out there." A term used in Blighty which means "in France." Conscientious objectors object to going "out there."

"Over the Top." A famous phrase of the trenches. It is generally the order for the men to charge the German lines. Nearly always it is accompanied by the Jonah wish, "With the best o' luck and give them hell."

Oxo. Concentrated beef cubes that a fond mother sends out to Tommy because they are advertised as "British to the Backbone."


Packing. Asbestos wrapping around the barrel of a machine gun to keep the water from leaking out of the barrel casing. Also slang for rations.

Pack Drill. Punishment for a misdemeanor. Sometimes Tommy gets caught when he fills his pack with straw to lighten it for this drill.

Parados. The rear wall of a trench which the Germans continually fill with bits of shell and rifle bullets. Tommy doesn't mind how many they put in the parados.

Parapet. The top part of a front trench which Tommy constantly builds up and the Germans just as constantly knock down.

Patrol. A few soldiers detailed to go out in "No Man's Land," at night and return without any information. Usually these patrols are successful.

Pay Book. A little book in which is entered the amount of pay Tommy draws. In the back of same there is also a space for his "will and last testament"; this to remind Tommy that he is liable to be killed. (As if he needed any reminder.)

Pay Parade. A formation at which Tommy lines up for pay. When his turn comes the paying-officer asks, "How much?" and Tommy answers, "Fifteen francs, sir." He gets five.

Periscope. A thing in the trenches which you look through. After looking through it, you look over the top to really see something.

"Physical torture." The nickname for physical training. It is torture, especially to a recruit.

Pick. A tool shaped like an anchor which is being constantly handed to Tommy with the terse command, "get busy."

Pioneer. A soldier detailed in each company to keep the space around the billets clean. He sleeps all day and only gets busy when an officer comes round. He also sleeps at night.

"Pip squeak." Tommy's term for a small German shell which makes a "pip" and then a "squeak," when it comes over.

Poilu. French term, for their private soldier. Tommy would use it and sometimes does, but each time he pronounces it differently, so no one knows what he is talking about.

Pontoon. A card game, in America known as "Black Jack" or "Twenty One." The banker is the only winner.

Provost-Sergeant. A sergeant detailed to oversee prisoners, their work, etc. Each prisoner solemnly swears that when he gets out of "clink" he is going to shoot this sergeant and when he does get out he buys him a drink.

Pull Through. A stout cord with a weight on one end, and a loop on the other for an oily rag. The weighted end is dropped through the bore of the rifle and the rag on the other end is "pulled through."

Pump. A useless contrivance for emptying the trenches of water. "Useless" because the trenches refuse to be emptied.

"Pushing up the Daisies." Tommy's term for a soldier who has been killed and buried in France.


"Queer." Tommy's term for being sick. The doctor immediately informs him that there is nothing queer about him, and Tommy doesn't know whether to feel insulted or complimented.

Quid. Tommy's term for a pound or twenty shillings (about $4.80). He is not on very good terms with this amount as you never see the two together.

Q. M.-Sergeant. Quartermaster-Sergeant, or "Quarter" as he is called. A non-commissioned officer in a company who wears three stripes and a crown, and takes charge of the company stores, with the emphasis on the "takes." In civil life he was a politician or burglar.


Range Finder. An instrument for ascertaining the distance between two objects, using the instrument as one object. It is very accurate only you get a different result each time you use it, says Tommy.

Rapid Fire. Means to stick your head "over the top" at night, aim at the moon, and empty your magazine. If there is no moon, aim at the spot where it should be.

Ration Bag. A small, very small bag for carrying rations. Sometimes it is really useful for lugging souvenirs.

Rations. Various kinds of tasteless food issued by the Government to Tommy, to kid him into thinking that he is living in luxury, while the Germans are starving.

Ration Party. Men detailed to carry rations to the front line; pick out a black, cold, and rainy night; put a fifty-pound box on your shoulder; sling your rifle and carry one hundred twenty rounds of ammunition. Then go through a communication trench, with the mud up to your knees, down this trench for a half-mile, and then find your mates swearing in seven different languages; duck a few shells and bullets, and then ask Tommy for his definition of a "ration party." You will be surprised to learn that it is the same as yours.

Rats. The main inhabitants of the trenches and dugouts. Very useful for chewing up leather equipment and running over your face when asleep. A British rat resembles a bulldog, while a German one, through a course of Kultur, resembles a dachshund.

"Red Cap." Tommy's nickname for a Staff Officer because he wears a red band around his cap.

Red Tape. A useless sort of procedure. The main object of this is to prolong the war and give a lot of fat jobs to Army politicians.

Regimental Number. Each soldier has a number whether or not he was a convict in civil life. Tommy never forgets his number when he sees it on "orders for leave."

R. P. Regimental Police. Men detailed in a Battalion to annoy Tommy and to prevent him from doing what he most desires.

Reinforcements. A lot of new men sent out from England who think that the war will be over a week after they enter the trenches.

Relaying. A term used by the artillery. After a gun is fired it is "relayed" or aimed at something out of sight.

Respirator. A cloth helmet, chemically treated, with glass eyeholes, which Tommy puts over his head as a protection against poison gas. This helmet never leaves Tommy's person, he even sleeps with it.

Rest. A period of time for rest allotted to Tommy upon being relieved from the trenches. He uses this "rest" to mend roads, dig trenches, and make himself generally useful while behind the lines.

Rest Billets. Shell shattered houses, generally barns, in which Tommy "rests," when relieved from the firing line.

"Ricco." Term for a ricochet bullet. It makes a whining noise and Tommy always ducks when a "ricco" passes him.

Rifle. A part of Tommy's armament. Its main use is to be cleaned. Sometimes it is fired, when you are not using a pick or shovel. You also "present arms by numbers" with it. This is a very fascinating exercise to Tommy. Ask him.

Rifle Grenade. A bomb on the end of a rod. This rod is inserted into the barrel of a specially designed rifle.

"R.I.P." In monk's highbrow, "Requiscat in pace," put on little wooden crosses over soldier's graves. It means "Rest in peace," but Tommy says like as not it means "Rest in pieces," especially if the man under the cross has been sent West by a bomb or shell explosion.

"Road Dangerous, Use Trench." A familiar sign on roads immediately in rear of the firing line. It is to warn soldiers that it is within sight of Fritz. Tommy never believes these signs and swanks up the road. Later on he tells the Red Cross nurse that the sign told the truth.

"Roll of Honor." The name given to the published casualty lists of the war. Tommy has no ambition for his name to appear on the "Roll of Honor" unless it comes under the heading "Slightly Wounded."

R. C. Roman Catholic. One of the advantages of being a R. C, is that "Church Parade" is not compulsory.

"Rooty." Tommy's nickname for bread.

Route March. A useless expenditure of leather and energy. These marches teach Tommy to be kind to overloaded beasts of burden.

R. A. M. C. Royal Army Medical Corps. Tommy says it means "Rob All My Comrades."

R. E.'s. Royal Engineers.

R. F. A.'s. Royal Field Artillery men.

R. F. C.'s. Royal Flying Corps.

Rum. A nectar of the gods issued in the early morning to Tommy.

Rum issue. A daily formation at which Tommy receives a spoonful of rumj.that is if any is left over from the Sergeant's Mess.

Runner. A soldier who is detailed or picked as an orderly for an officer while in the trenches. His real job is to take messages under fire, asking how many tins of jam are required for 1917.

Next:  Tommy's Dictionary of the Trenches, Part Three