TENNNNHUT! (Attention!) This is a command given by a Parade Commander or a Troop Commander to get his contingent or troops to stand at attention in a military parade or ‘drill’ training. This command normally precedes other commands such as, ‘From the left, Quick March!’, ‘From the left, Forward March!’, ‘Right Turn!’, ‘Left Turn!’, ’Shoulder Arms!’, ‘Present Arms!’, ‘Troop Halt!’ and more.
‘Blighty’, taken from the Hindustani name for “home”, ‘Blighty’ refers to Britain. It is also used to describe a debilitating wound – to “get a Blighty” is to receive a wound serious enough to be posted home.
‘No Man’s Land’ is the area between the trenches of both armies fighting against each other.
‘Brass’ means officers, so ‘Top Brass’ means very senior officers.
Nicknames used by the military are short, clever, or even derogatory substitute names for persons, organisations or even things. Example: Rifle is to 'bondook' or 'Gat' - as Tea is to 'Cha.'
'Bondook' and 'Cha' originate from India when the British Army was based there, whereas 'gat' is a nickname for a gangster's weapon. And you will have, ‘Cha Walla’ (the tea man), and ‘Dhobi Walla’ (the laundryman).
All the nicknames above continue to be used on a daily basis by all British Military personnel today.
As a young man in the 70’s, I served the army as a commissioned officer with the Malaysian Artillery Regiment after completing a tough one-year cadet officer training at the Royal Military College (RMC (MTD)), Kuala Lumpur and we all, commissioned officers, non - commissioned officers (NCOs) and other ranks (ORs) spoke and wrote, either during formal or informal occasions, mainly in English. This made it easier and more convenient for us as at that time, we had to deal and work with the British, American, Australian, New Zealander and Canadian officers, NCOs and ORs when attending courses or training, operations, administration and during rest and recreation (R & R) periods as well. All officers, we were told, are ‘officers and gentlemen’.
The military has an uncanny style and method in cutting short words, phrases and sentences and many were replaced with codes and call signs which fit the description, ‘short and sharp’. These nicknames, codes and call signs are classified as ‘R’ or ‘restricted’ meaning that their use is restricted for use by military personnel only. Eventually however, some of these codes and call signs leaked and got into the mainstream and many people, the civilians, are found using them. Military personnel consider themselves as people and soldiers; all other human beings are termed as ‘civilians’, ‘civvies’ or ‘chogeys’. (‘Chogeys’ are locally employed civilians).
The most common codes I hear now being used by civilians often, especially when texting messages through their cellphones, aren’t that many and they are, ‘roger’, ‘over’, ‘out’, ‘wrong’, ‘correction’, ‘chief’, ‘digger’ (Australian), ‘wildo’, ‘wilco’, etc. However, many civilians use them wrongly, e.g. ‘ok roger’, ‘ok roger bye’, ‘out bye’, ‘wrong correction’, etc. When you use ‘roger’, there’s no need to add ‘ok’ before or after it because ‘ok’ is already implied and understood. One normally answers, ‘roger’ or ‘roger over’, not ‘ok roger over’. The code ‘over’ is normally paired with ‘out’ at the end of a communication when using radios or signal equipment. ‘Roger’ is used to indicate that he understands what the other person is saying. Normally, it is used at the end of a communication and almost always followed by ‘out’. In an oral conversation, when one speaks to the other, e.g. between a superior officer and his subordinate officer face - to – face, in a meeting or a conference, most of the talking are done by the superior officer and it is usually very quick. ‘Yes Sir’ and ‘No Sir’ are almost always the only responses heard from a subordinate officer. Subordinates do not normally question their superiors. Young officers or subalterns are, ‘to be seen and not heard’. When a subordinate officer deals face - to - face with a superior officer, always, at the end of the conversation, he would stand at attention facing his superior and salute him which is a formal military form of respect and say, ‘Thank you, Sir’, and then, ‘Permission to leave, Sir,’ whilst at the same time kicking his heels, salutes (he never smiles because one is not supposed to, to show that he is disciplined, hungry, serious and mean) and then dismiss and quickly marches back to his unit to carry out whatever ‘orders’ he received.
Ladies, regardless whether they are older or younger than the officers (and gentlemen), are always addressed as ’Ma’am’. The ladies, naturally, would feel most delighted with this treatment.
When one uses the code ‘wrong’, he follows with the correction or amendment straightaway. It’s incorrect to say, ‘wrong correction …’ followed by the correction or amendments. Alternatively, one can use the term ‘correction’ followed by the corrections or amendments. ‘Chief’ can be used to mean commander and ‘digger’, normally used by the Australian army, is used when referring to soldiers. ‘Wildo’ (pronounced ‘weel doo’) means ‘will do’ and ‘wilco’ (pronounced ‘weel ko’) means ‘will comply’ with (the instruction or the order given). An officer would say, ‘I say again’ when he wants to repeat something he had said earlier to make sure that his troops had heard him clearly or, ‘Say again’ if he wants to ask a person to repeat what that person says. E.g. ‘Enemy location, ‘I read Delta 37 23.516 - 122 02.625, I say again, enemy location, ………. ’. A typical two-way communication exchange between a Battery Commander (BC) and his Gun Position Officer (GPO) during an operations using standard issue signal equipment would be: ‘Calling Echo 11, this is Sunray, over’. His GPO replies, ‘Echo 11, come in, over,’ (it’s not Echo Eleven, but Echo One One) and so on until the communication ends normally with, ‘Echo 11, wilco, over’ before finally the BC says, ‘Sunray, report every hour on the hour, good luck, over and out,’ in case of a nice BC. They would already have synchronised their watches earlier during the exchange. (Communications between officers and men of the other Corps are quite similar except for the use of their respective ‘call signs’).
In an Artillery unit, either the field or the air defence unit, where they handle the biggest guns and howitzers, they (gunners) are normally attached and put ‘Under Administration’ and sometimes ‘Under Command’, depending on the situation, of an infantry battalion, brigade, division or corp. Regardless of the size of the unit, whether it is a troop, a battery or a regiment, a brigade or even a division or any bigger ‘formation’, they are referred to by their nickname ‘Sheldrake’. Other examples are: ‘Indians’ or ‘Dog Face’ or also known as (aka) ‘foot soldiers’ for the Infantry, ‘Sappers’ for the Engineer Corps, ‘Monkeys’ or ‘Mud Puppy’ for the Military Police, ‘Jimmy’ or ‘Scaleys’ for the Signals Corp, etc. Commanding Officers (COs) of battalions or regiments use the codenames ‘Zulu’ and Battery Commanders (Bty Com) or Company Commanders (Coy Com) use the codenames ‘X-Ray’ and their nicknames is ‘Sunray’, so each unit, regardless of which corps they are from, have their own ‘Zulus’, ‘X – Rays’ and ‘Sunrays’. All ‘Corps’ in the British Army and the British Military including the Air Force and the Navy have the prefix ‘Royal’ before their respective regimental names to indicate that they are units belonging to the Queen’s (Kingdom of Gt. Britain) and had received the HRH Queen’s Royal commission and ‘Royal Colours’, e.g. Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, 1st Royal Infantry Brigade, 52nd Royal Field Artillery Corp, etc. In Malaysia, most units use the title ‘DiRaja’ (after being accorded the ‘Royal Commission and Royal Colours’ by the Yang DiPertuan Agong) placed after the respective units’ names e.g. Regimen Ketiga Artileri DiRaja (3 RAD).
The British Army is the land armed forces branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England and Scotland and was administered by the War Office from London. It has been managed by the Ministry of Defence since 1963.
NATO Phonetic Alphabet
NATO’s (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) phonetic alphabet below is used by the armed forces to provide an easy to understand language in the heat of battle. It reduces misinterpretation from background noise, weak radio signals, distorted audio, and radio operator accent. It originated in the 1950s.
A - Alpha
B - Bravo
C - Charlie
D - Delta
E - Echo
F - Foxtrot
G - Golf
H - Hotel
I - India
J - Juliet
K - Kilo
L - Lima
M - Mike
N - November
O - Oscar
P - Papa
Q - Quebec
R - Romeo
S - Sierra
T - Tango
U - Uniform
V - Victor
W - Whisky
X - X-ray
Y - Yankee
Z - Zulu
Military speak or military parlance is the vernacular used within the military and embraces all aspects of service life; it can be described as both a "code" and a "classification" of something. Like many close and closed communities, the language used can often be full of jargon and not readily intelligible to outsiders - sometimes this is for military operational or security reasons; other times it is because of the natural evolution of the day-to-day language used in the various units.
For example: Captain, this situation is 'Scale A' ('Scale A' being an army's parlance for "This situation requires the closest of attention and resources and all members of relevance should be present.")
The military has developed its own slang, partly as means of self-identification. This slang is also used to reinforce the (usually friendly) interservice rivalries. Some terms are derogatory to varying degrees and many service personnel take some pleasure in the sense of shared hardship which they endure and which is reflected in the slang terms.
Here are some websites readers may go to for more information on ‘military speak’. There are of course many more, official and unofficial websites, found on the internet. The British Military always strictly sticks to tradition and custom. All British Army, Navy and Air Force branches and units have their own official websites.