It is incredible how much of our everyday
sayings and slang has been derived from the British Navy. Most civilians
would never believe just how much of their English language has been
adapted from matelots of old. It is easy to see from studying these
phrases and customs just what a large influence the sea and the navy
had upon the island nation of Great Britain and in turn its Dominions.
the oldest flag in our code of signals, dating from the early struggles
between the British and the Dutch. Both sides were Roman Catholic,
and decided mutually that some form of signal was necessary to call
a truce whilst prayers were being said. At this stage war had not
lost all chivalry. The colours of both nations were sewn together,
and at the part next to the mast you may see the flag of England,
whist the rainder is the ensign of the Netherlands.
Though a curtailed watch, was originally called a "dodge" watch. Designed
to make the day have seven watches instead of six, in order that the
men who had the middle watch might dodge it the next day. Best information
available on the Ship's Bell
This was "Duffy", or ghost, of Jonah" - Duffy being an old English
word for ghost.
The signal to denote a ship will shortly sail, derives its name from
the French "patir" meaning 'to depart.'
In which we live, comes from the spanish 'mesa', a table.
Gun Salute (or rogues salute)
Is the signal gun fired for the assblage of a court martial
In the Royal Navy it means that a double issue of rum (or now
beer) will be served. Thought to derive from the fact that the mainbrace
(in a sailing ship) would seldom, if ever, be spliced. On account of
its size and the rarity of the occasion. Those who performed the work
were probably rewarded with an extra tot. Further information on the
Rum Issue Page
A sign of mourning. Said to be accompanied by other signs of untidiness
in olden times: .eg. leaving yards cocked, or ropes hanging lossely,
etc. A more poetical explanation is offered. Many know that when a
prize is captured the White Ensign is hoisted superior to the national
flag of the prize. It is suggested that the ensign is worn at half
mast in order to make room for the invisible colours of death, who
invariably wins the last encounter.
Dates from the times when wives sailed in men-o'-war. On calling the
hands the owners of the finine legs were allowed to rain abed until
Guard and Steerage.
the same times. Infants were born under the guns, and once or twice
a gun had been fired to assist a difficult birth. Records of this
have been found in old diaries.
Vernon insisted on having the rum watered down before issue, and he
always wore grogam clothing, he was nick named "Old Grog" Further information
on the Rum Issue Page