Flying Officer J L Hunt and Lieutenant A G Pringle RA, Service Slang: A First Selection (London: Faber and Faber, 2008[1943])

An interesting book to end up on my bookshelf. It is a collection of slang used in the British Army, Royal Air Force, and Royal Navy. It was compiled by the authors and originally published in 1943, and it is faithfully illustrated. However, my real interest in the book comes from the fact that Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory wrote the forward to this book when he was AOC-in-C of Fighter Command. It represents an interesting contradiction to our usual image of Leigh-Mallory as a masochistic officer with little or no sense of humour. However, it clearly shows that this was not the case. Indeed, in his forward he writes that:

No doubt the hair of the purists will turn grey when they read these pages…I am proud to command men who give every ounce they have in the fight, and when peace is won this book may remind them of many sad and many happy times which helped them coin new words…

Certainly not the usual uncaring view with have of Leigh-Mallory.


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