World War II Glossary

TermLanguageDefinition
A4GermanSee Aggregat 4
abaftEnglishmaritime terminology for to the rear of, eg. the mainmast is abaft the foremast
AbschußGermandischarge of a gun
Abteilung Germanbranch, section (abbreviation: Abt.)
aburtonEnglishmaritime terminology for a small tackle formed by two blocks or pullies
AbwehrGermanGerman military intelligence service
AEFEnglishAllied Expeditionary Force, the combined forces of all Allied nations
aftEnglishthe area near or at the rear of a maritime vessel
Aggregat 4GermanThe earlier name for the German V-2 rocket
AIEnglishAirborne Interception radar equipment fitted to fighters.
Airborne CigarEnglishElectronic aircraft jammer to blot out enemy nightfighter radar channels.
AKPolishThe Armja Krajowa, or "Home Army", was the name of the Polish Resistance
Aktion T4GermanThe Nazi plan to exterminate the disabled
Allgemeine SSGermanNon-military branch of the SS
alpinoItalianmountain infantry (plural: alpini)
amidshipsEnglishThe center area of a ship
amidshipsEnglishthe area in the middle of a maritime vessel
Anderson SheltersEnglishSmall and cheap Air-raid shelter that could be erected in people's gardens. Made from six curved sheets bolted together and measuring 6ft 6in by 4ft 6in (1.95m by 1.35m) the shelter could accommodate six people. Anderson shelters were given free to poor people, and those earning more than £5 a week could purchase them for £7. Soon after the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, over 2 million families had shelters in their garden. By the time of the Blitz this had risen to two and a quarter million.
AnkerGermananchor
AnschlussGermanThe plan and the eventually successful annexation of Austria into German borders  [Read More]
ANZACEnglishAustralia and New Zealand Army Corps
apronEnglishthe part of a pier or quay which is between the enclosed structure and the edge, upon which cargo is unloaded
armi d'accompagnamentoItaliansupport weapons
ARPEnglishAcronym for "Air Raid Precautions", which was an organization in the United Kingdom dedicated to the protection of civilians from the danger of air-raids.
ArtillerieGermanartillery (abbreviation: Art.)
ArtilleriefährprahmGermanGerman landing craft refitted with artillery pieces for naval bombardment
ASDICEnglishThe original British acronym for a sonic device that detects submarines, usually said to stand for Anti-Submarine Detection Investigation Committee, although there is little evidence that this was the case. Now usually called SONAR (Sound Navigation and Ranging).
ASVEnglishAir to Surface Vessel radar
athwartshipEnglishacross a ship, from side to side
Atlantic WallEnglishEnglish translation of the German term Atlantikwall; see Atlantikwall for more details
AtlantikwallGermanThe Atlantic Wall was the line of defenses along the 2,685-kilometer coast line from the Netherlands to the Spanish-French border. Construction of it began in 1942. It formed the basis for Adolf Hitler's Festung Europa concept.
ATSEnglishAcronym for "Auxiliary Territorial Service", which was a branch of the British Army in World War II consisted of women.
BackbordGermanBackbord is the nautical term that refers to the left side of a ship, as perceived by a person facing towards the bow, or, the front of the ship. The term is also used for aircraft. The equivalent for the right-hand side is Steuerbord. (abbreviation: B.B.)
backstayEnglisha rope that serves as a support to prevent the mast of a maritime vessel from going forward and also contributes to its lateral support, thereby assisting the shrouds; it extends from the upper part of the mast to the side at some distance abaft the mast
ballastEnglishheavy weights packed into the bottom of a ship to give her stability; also, water carried in ballast tanks
ballast tanksEnglishtanks provided in various parts of a ship for introduction of water ballast when necessary to add weight to produce a change in trim or stability; they are capable of being flooded or pumped out at will
banderasItalianItalian Blackshirt battalions fighting in Spain during the Spanish Civil War
banditEnglishAllied code name for any aircraft identified as hostile
banzaiJapaneseBanzai was the traditional Japanese cheer of enthusiasm or triumph, meaning "10,000 years", referring to the wish for the reigning Japanese emperor to rule for 10,000 years. While it was used mainly as a victory cheer, western exposure to the word was often made during suicide charges by defensive Japanese garrisons, hence the phrase "banzai charge" coined by western soldiers.
BAREnglishBrowning automatic rifle
battaglioneItalianbattalion
battenEnglisha strip of wood or steel used in securing tarpaulins in place on a maritime vessel, or wood or steel fittings inside the frames of a ship to keep cargo from moving and hitting the shell plating of a ship
BatteriedeckGermanbattery deck or second deck of a warship
bazookaEnglishRocket-propelled shaped charge grenade
BCRAFrenchThe Bureau Centrale de Renseignements et d'Action was the Free French secret intelligence service
beamEnglishThe direction toward the sides of a ship or the width of a ship
beam clampEnglisha ringed fitting that can be fastened to a beam aboard a ship in order to secure a block and tackle in the hold for lifting or shifting cargo
becketEnglishmaritime terminology for an eye for securing one end of a line to a block or a rope eye as on a cargo net
BEFEnglishThe British Expeditionary Force
belayEnglishmaritime terminology for to fasten or to stop
bendEnglishmaritime terminology for to secure one line to another
BeobachtungsdienstGermanwireless reconnaissance service (abbreviation: B-Dienst)
berthEnglisha designated place where a ship lies at anchor or ties up
between decksEnglishthe space between decks aboard a ship
bightEnglishmaritime terminology for a loop or bend in a rope
bilgeEnglishthe rounded portion of the shell of a maritime vessel which connects the bottom with side, or the part of a barrel at its greatest width
bittsEnglishmaritime terminology for a pair of short metal or wooden posts extending up from a base plate usually fastened to a dock or deck and used for securing lines
BlitzkriegGermanLiterally meaning "lightning war", blitzkrieg was the name given to the German tactic that, through the use of combined arms, paralyzed enemy defenses through surprise, speed, firepower, and envelopment. The tactic was tested in Spain in 1938 and in Poland in 1939, and was most notably used in the quick capture of France and the Low Countries in 1940.
blockEnglishmaritime terminology for a pulley or sheave, or a system of pulleys or sheaves, mounted in a frame or shell and used for moving objects by means of ropes run over the pulleys or sheaves
bo'sn's chairEnglisha piece of plank hung in two straps and forming a seat on which a man may be hoisted aloft or lowered over the side of a ship
boat hookEnglisha long pole with a hook attached to the end, used for catching, holding, and steadying small boats
bocageFrenchSometimes referred to in English as hedgerows, bocage is a French word referring to a terrain of mixed woodland and pasture with side roads bounded by banks and thick vegetation. The bocage-country of Normandy in France provided German troops significant advantages during the Allied Normandy Campaign of 1944.
BoforsSwedishThe Swedish weapon manufacturer which sold its 40-mm Anti-aircraft gun to both sides before World War II.
bollardEnglisha short metal or timber column which is attached to a wharf and used for securing the lines from a ship
boomEnglisha long, round, heavy spar, pivoted at one end, generally used for handling cargo into and out of a ship
boot toppingEnglisha specific exterior area on the hull of a maritime vessel where special air, water, and grease resisting paint is applied
BoozerEnglishRadar warning device against fighters, fitted to bombers.
bowEnglishThe bow is the foremost point of the hull of a ship or boat; it is the point that is ahead when the vessel is underway. The furthest point of the bow is called the stem.
break downEnglishto put cargo in step formation aboard a ship
break outEnglishto unload cargo from a maritime vessel
breasting floatEnglisha raft-like float used to keep a maritime vessel, while secured, away from the pier; also known as camel
bridgeEnglishThe general location of the ship where the commanding officer and his/her staff operates
bridleEnglishmaritime terminology for a length of line with ends secured to a spar or another line, or an assembly of wire rope or chain used as a sling
broken stowageEnglishmaritime terminology for the waste and loss of space caused by irregularity in the size and shape of packages or the incidence of hold pillars, frames, deck beams and other obstructions, and the failure to utilize available space
browEnglisha gangplnk that is usually fitted with rollers at the end resting on the wharf to allow for the movement of the maritime vessel with the tide
BrückeGermanbridge of a warship
bulkheadEnglishwalls in the interior of ships
bull ropeEnglishmaritime terminology for a rope used for snaking out cargo to the square of the hatch from the between deck or lower hold, or used to work the cargo into these spaces, or a rope used in connection with the topping lift
bulwarkEnglishthe extension of the plating of the side of a ship above the weather deck
bunkerEnglishmaritime terminology for a compartment used for the storage of coal or fuel oil
camelEnglisha raft-like float used to keep a maritime vessel, while secured, away from the pier; also known as breasting float
Camicia NeraItalianItalian Blackshirt personnel
cantlineEnglishthe space or groove between two fore and aft rows of casks stowed side by side aboard a ship
CAPEnglishCombat air patrols were defensive formations formed by carrier fighters above task groups.
caponierEnglishOriginally from the French word caponnière, a caponier is a fortification positioned in such a way that its weapons could fire on both flanks. A half-caponier, contrastingly, could only fire on one flank.
capsizeEnglishA ship is said to have capsized when she flips upside down.
capstanEnglisha revolving drum, with vertical axis, powered by hand or by machine, used for handling heavy anchor chains, hawsers, etc. aboard a ship
careenEnglishto incline a ship from the upright, as by wave action, or mechanically for the purpose of making repairs
carfloatEnglisha barge used for ferrying railroad cars
cat headEnglishan auxiliary drum usually fitted on one or both ends of a winch or windlass aboard a ship
catamaranEnglisha platform secured to two floats used for work alongside a ship
caulkEnglishmaritime terminology for to fill in the seams with oakum or cotton to make watertight
ceilingEnglishplanking fitted on top of the double-bottom in the hold of a ship
centuriaItalianItalian Blackshirt unit equivalent to a company
cheekEnglishmaritime terminology for the side of a block
chimeEnglishthe part of the cask or barrel at the end of the staves
chockEnglishblocks of wood used to secure cargo aboard a ship that otherwise may roll, eg. vehicles
chock-a-blockEnglishmaritime terminology for when two blocks of a tackle are drawn together as close as possible
chokedEnglishmaritime terminology for to be fouled in the block, because of a kink, or because of slipping off the sheave
CIGSEnglishBritish Chief of the Imperial General Staff
cleatEnglishmaritime terminology for metal or wood fittings with arms or horns upon which to secure lines
clipEnglishmaritime terminology for a metal fitting used to grip and hold wire rope
coamingEnglishmaritime term for the side wall of a hatch projecting above the deck around the perimeter of the hatch
coffer damEnglishthe empty space separating compartments aboard a ship for the purpose of insulation, or to prevent the liquid contents of one compartment from entering another in the event of leakage
collierEnglisha maritime vessel designed for the carrying of coal
Commando SupremoItalianItalian supreme military command
complementiItalianreplacement
conning towerEnglishThe conning tower is a raised location of a ship where a navigation officer could reside to direct the ship. It is usually armored. Aboard a surface ship, the conning tower is usually immediately below the bridge; aboard a submarine, it is raised, and is often also used for entering and exiting the vessel.
cooperEnglishmaritime terminology for someone who repairs cargo containers
coorteItalianItalian Blackshirt unit equivalent to a battalion
cordageEnglisha comprehensive maritime terminology for all ropes of whatever size or kind
Corpo Truppe VolontarieItalianItalian volunteer corps fighting in Spain during the Spanish Civil War
coup d'é·tatFrench"Blow of state"; an illegal replacement of a ruling body of a state
cow's tailEnglishmaritime terminology for the frayed end of a rope; also called fag
cowlEnglishthe opening to a ventilator
cradleEnglisha support of wood or metal shaped to fit the object which is stowed upon it, such as boat cradle, boom cradle, etc.
cringleEnglishmaritime terminology for a piece of line spliced on another line to form an eye
cross beamsEnglishbeams that support the hatch covers aboard a ship
cross treeEnglishathwartship pieces fitted on a mast, serving as foundations for platforms or used to secure the blocks used in connection with the topping lift
crow's nestEnglisha lookout station attached to or near the top of the mast aboard a ship
D-DayEnglishMilitary term used to signify the particular date on which an operation was to start; in popular culture, "D-Day" often refers to the Normandy invasion of 6 Jun 1944.
da sbarcoItalianItalian Blackshirt amphibious battalion
davitsEnglishcrane-like device used to raise and lower a ship's boats or other weights
deadweight cargoEnglishmaritime cargo of such a nature that a long ton stows in less than 40 cubic feet
deadweight tonnageEnglishthe carrying capacity of a ship, measured by subtracting the empty (light) displacement tonnage from the loaded displacement tonnage
deck loadEnglishthe cargo carried on the deck of a maritime vessel
deep waterlineEnglishthe waterline at which a maritime vessel floats when carrying the maximum allowable load
demurrageEnglishthe charge made when a ship is delayed while loading or discharging cargo
displacement tonnageEnglishthe weight of a ship measured in terms of the weight of water displaced by the ship
docking planEnglishinformation regarding the underwater portion of a ship's hull for docking purposes
dogEnglishmaritime terminology for a short metal rod or bar fashioned to form a clamp which is used to hold watertight doors or manhole covers in place
donkey engineEnglisha small gas, steam, or electric auxiliary engine set on the deck of a maritime vessel for lifting or another purpose
double bottomEnglisha watertight space between inner and outer bottom of a ship, in which fuel oil or water ballast may be carried
draftEnglishthe depth of a maritime vessel below the waterline
DUKWEnglishSometimes nicknamed Duck, it was an amphibious truck used by the Allies. "D" indicated a vehicle designed in 1942, "U" stood for "utility (amphibious)", "K" indicated all-wheel drive, and "W" indicated two powered rear axles.
dunnageEnglishloose material such as lumber, burlap, etc., placed in between cargo aboard a ship
E-BoatEnglishEnglish name for the small and fast patrol craft of the German Navy armed with guns and torpedos. See Schnellboot.
EinsatzgruppenGermanGerman paramilitary groups operated by the SS responsible for one million civilian deaths during the Holocaust
EndlösungGermanThe "Final Solution" genocide planned by the Nazi Party against Jewish people.  [Read More]
EnigmaGermanA German military encryption protocol
escape holeEnglishamall man hole in the deck of a ship
estuaryEnglishAn estuary is the wide part of a river where it connects with the sea. In this area, fresh and salt water mix as a result of both the river's current as well as the ocean tides.
ETOEnglishThe European Theatre of Operations was the term used in the United States to refer to US operations north of the Mediterranean coast.
EurekaEnglishAN/APN-2 ground radio beacons set by the pathfinder paratroopers to guide transport aircraft to their drop zones during the Allied invasion of Normandie, France.  [Read More]
eyeEnglishmaritime terminology for a loop for insertion of a hook, pin, etc.
fair leadEnglishmaritime terminology for a fitting, usually a block, used to change the direction of a line
fakeEnglishmaritime terminology for to lay a rope down in the long bights side by side in order that it will run out clear or can be easily and rapidly paid out, or to describe one complete circle of a coil of rope
fallEnglishmaritime terminology for the entire length of rope used in a tackle
fallschirmjägerGermanParatrooper
farmEnglishmaritime time for an open storage area near pier entrances
fathomEnglisha maritime measurement equaling 6 feet or approximately 1.8 meters
feldgrauGerman"Field grey" was the term commonly used to describe the German soldier; it was derived from the color of the German Army uniform.
fenderEnglishcanvas, wood, or rope used over the side of a ship to protect it from chafing when alongside another vessel or dock
fidEnglishmaritime terminology for a pointed hard wood tool used to open strands of manila line
FilbertEnglishA 219-foot long naval barrage balloon containing a 9-foot diameter radar reflector, giving an echo on German radar like that of a large ship.
FishpondEnglishBritish early-warning radar against fighters fitted to some bombers in 1944.
fjordEnglishOriginally a Scandinavian word but now commonly used in English as well, a fjord is a steeply-walled inlet of salt water created by glacial erosion.
FlaggschiffGermanflagship
FlakGermanAbbreviated form of fliegerabwehrkanone, or anti-aircraft gun. The word is also commonly used in the English language with the same meaning.
flattopEnglishNickname for an aircraft carrier
FliegerabwehrkanoneGermananti-aircraft gun; the word is also commonly used in the English language with the same meaning (abbreviation: Flak)
flooring offEnglishlaying a floor with dunnage aboard a ship
FlotteGermanfleet
FlottenchefGermanchief of a naval fleet
FlottilleGermanflotilla (abbreviation: Fl.)
FlugzeugträgerGermanaircarft carrier
forecastleEnglishuppermost structure on the bow of a ship
fork truckEnglisha gasoline or electric powered industrial machine equipped with two extended forks used to pick up, carry and stack supplies
freeboardEnglishthe vertical distance from the waterline to the top of the weather deck at side aboard a maritime vessel
freeing portEnglishholes in the lower portion of a bulwark aboard a ship which allow deckwash to drain off into the sea
FreikorpsGermanA collective term for the ultra-conservative para-military volunteer organizations that formed in post-WW1 Germany.
freshen the nipEnglishmaritime terminology for to shift the rope so as to take the wear in another place
full and downEnglishmaritime terminology which describes a ship as being filled to its cargo capacity
FunkGermanradio (abbreviation: Fu)
FunkmeßortungGermanradar (abbreviation: FuMO)
FunktelegrammGermanradio message (abbreviation: FT)
funnelEnglishSynonymous with smokestack, the funnel is used to ventilate smoke from a ship's boilers.
FührerGermanleader (abbreviation: Fhr.)
gangway manEnglisha longshoreman who directs the inch operators
gantlineEnglishmaritime terminology for a line passed through a single block aloft, used for hoisting or lowering rigging
gantryEnglishmaritime terminology for an overhead structure used to support a crane or another purpose
gasketEnglishseaming material such as rubber, canvas, asbestos, which insures tightness in an opening such as a hatch aboard a ship
GefechtsmastGermanforemast of a ship
GerGermaninstrument
GeschossGermanprojectile
GeschwaderGermanA geschwader is the largest combat flying unit in the German Luftwaffe. A geschwader was consisted of three gruppen with a staff unit of four aircraft, making the nominal strength 94 aircraft, but the number fluctuated depending on situation. The plural form of the word is geschwader.
GestapoGermanThe Gestapo, short for Geheime Staatspolizei, was the Secret State Police of Nazi Germany. It was established on 26 Apr 1933 from the existing Prussian Secret Police. In 1934, Hermann Göring assumed control of the Gestapo and expanded its influence across all of Germany. In Apr 1934, Göring handed over full control of the Gestapo over to Heinrich Himmler and the SS, officially making it a branch of the SS; Himmler merged the Gestapo with the existing SS Sicherheitspolizei branch. Because Gestapo agents were considered above the law, abuses of power were frequent, ranging from illegal detention to torture. The post-war Nuremberg war crimes trials declared the Gestapo a criminal organization.
gin blockEnglishmaritime terminology for a steel block consisting of a sheave supported by a skeleton frame, that is, without solid sides
gin poleEnglishmaritime terminology for a portable pole rigged with tackles, which is used to handle loads where a boom is not available
gooseneckEnglishmaritime terminology for a swivel fitting that connects the heel of the boom with the mast
grab ropeEnglishmaritime terminology for a line used for steadying oneself
GranateGermanshell, grenade (plural: Granaten)
grapnelEnglisha small maritime anchor with several arms used for dragging
grommetEnglishmaritime terminology for a ring of rope used as an eye or as a gasket
gross tonnageEnglisha measure of volume inside a ship
ground tackleEnglishgeneral maritime terminology for all mooring gear
GroßmastGermanmainmast of a ship
GruppeGermanA gruppe is a combat flying unit in the German Luftwaffe, usually consisted of three staffeln with a staff flight of three aircraft. A gruppe had a nominal strength of 30 aircraft, but the number fluctuated depending on situation. The plural form of the word is gruppen.
gruppo battaglioniItalianbattalion group
Guardia Nazionale RepubblicanaItalianNational Republican Guard (GNR)
gunwaleEnglishmaritime terminology for the upper edge of the rail of a ship or boat; approximate pronunciation: GUN-nel
guyEnglishmaritime terminology for a rope or cradle used to swing or steady a boom
H-HourEnglishMilitary term used to signify the particular time at which an operation was to start
HakenkreuzGermanSwastika
halyardEnglishmaritime terminology for a light line used for hoisting a flag or sail
HandelsmarineGermanmerchant marine
handy billyEnglishmaritime term for a small block and tackle for use about the deck, resembling awning pulley
hatchEnglishmaritime terminology for an opening in the deck through which cargo may be handled
hatch coversEnglishmaritime terminology for boards fitted to rest on top of hatch beams to cover a hatch opening
hawserEnglishmaritime terminology for a large rope used for securing vessels to a pier, for towing, etc.
head blockEnglishmaritime terminology for a block that is attached to the top or head of the boom, also called the cargo block, and sometimes referred to as gin block
headerEnglisha longshoreman who works in a hold of a ship and at the same time directs several others
HeckGermanstern; rear or after part of a ship or boat
HedgehogEnglishBritish anti-submarine weapon; a mortar firing a salvo of depth charges
heel blockEnglishmaritime terminology for the block located at the bottom or heel of the boom
HMSEnglishHis Majesty's Ship, which was the prefix to the names of all British ships controlled by the British government or military; "His Majesty" referred to King George VI of Britain
holdEnglishspace below decks for stowage of cargo aboard a ship
housefallEnglishmaritime terminology for a system of cargo handling whereby a fall is passed through a block attached high on a pier structure and used in conjunction with the fall from a boom spotted over the ship's hatch. The fall passing through the block may lead either to the winch on the ship, or to a winch on the pier.
Huff-DuffEnglishBritish Royal Navy term for HF/DF (High Frequency Direction Finding) equipment used to locate enemy warships, usually U-boats, by detecting their radio signals.
hullEnglishthe framework of a maritime vessel including all decks, deckhouses, but not the mast rigging, engines, etc.
HVAREnglishhigh velocity air rocket
IFFEnglish"Identification Friend or Foe" was a radio device equipped by aircraft to announce its identity to prevent friend fire.
inboardEnglishtoward the center of a ship
IngenieurGermanengineer (abbreviation: Ing.)
jackstayEnglisha general maritime terminology for any rope or rod used for securing purposes
jettisonEnglishto heave goods overboard from a maritime vessel
jettyEnglisha landing wharf or pier or a breakwater
Jot DoraGermanGerman code word meaning 'fire at will' (abbreviation: JD)
jury rigEnglishmaritime terminology for a makeshift arrangement of cargo handling gear, rigged when regular gear has broken down
kaigunJapaneseJapanese word for navy, as in Nihon Kaigun, or the Japanese Navy.
kamikazeJapaneseOriginally coined to describe the two typhoons that thwarted the Mongol invasion of Japan in 1274 and 1281, the term kamikaze, or "divine wind", was applied particularly in English in reference to the suicide aircraft employed by Japan in WW2. Japanese sources typically use the phrase tokubetsu kogeki tai, or "Special Attack Units", instead of kamikaze.
KampfgruppeGermanSometimes shortened as KG, the Kampfgruppe was an ad-hoc mixed military formation usually organized for a particular task or operation only. It was usually a battalion in size, but size could vary based on mission. It was often named by either their commanding officer or the parent division. The plural form of Kampfgruppe is Kampfgruppen.
KatapultGermancatapult aboard ships
keelEnglishThe center structural beam of a ship at the very bottom running longitudinally, consisting of three parts: the flat keel plate, the vertical keel plate, and rider plate.
KehlsteinhausGermanSometimes anglicized as Eagle's Nest, it was Adolf Hitler's mountain-top retreat in the German Alps near Berchtesgaden.
KempeiJapaneseJapanese military police
kentledgeEnglishpig iron used as ballast, or as a weight for inclining a maritime vessel
kingpostsEnglisha pair of masts used to support booms aboard a maritime vessel
knotEnglishmaritime terminology for a tie in a line, or a measurement of speed of one nautical mile per hour
KreuzerGermancruiser
KriegsmarineGermanName of the German Navy between 1935 and 1945.
KriegsschiffGermanwarship
landlubberEnglishmaritime terminology for something that is non-seafaring
lanyardEnglishmaritime terminology for a heavy piece of rope attached at one end to some object, which is moving or swinging, while the other end of the rope is used for controlling purposes
lashingEnglishmaritime terminology for a rope used to secure deck cargo, etc.
layEnglishmaritime terminology for the direction of twist in a rope, as left lay or right lay
LCMEnglishlanding craft mechanized
LCTEnglishlanding craft tank
LCVPEnglishlanding craft vehicles and personnel
LDVEnglishAcronym for "Local Defence Volunteers", which were local volunteers otherwise ineligible for military service, usually owing to age. They acted as a secondary defense force in conjunction with the military in case of invasion. The organization was later renamed to the Home Guard.
LebensraumGermanLiterally "living space", it was a concept used by the Nazi Party to express the need and to justify German aggression in Eastern Europe.
legioneItalianItalian Blackshirt unit equivalent to a regiment
Lend-LeaseEnglishThe American policy to supply the Allied nations with equipment
Liberty shipEnglishModular American cargo ship that was mass-produced in great quantities during the war
lighterEnglisha small barge-like vessel used for loading and unloading ships from the offshore side, and for transporting cargo locally about the harbor
lineEnglishmaritime terminology for a rope
linkbandEnglishmaritime terminology for a band fitted around the head of a cargo boom into which is shackled the topping lift, headblock, and boom guys
listEnglishA ship is said to be listing when she is tilting toward any direction, usually because of flooding.
lockerEnglisha storage compartment aboard a ship
long tonEnglisha weight measurement equaling 2,240 pounds
longshoremanEnglisha person emmployed in the loading and unloading of cargo from ships
LRDGEnglishAcronym for "Long Range Desert Group", which specialized in mechanized reconnaissance, intelligence gathering, and desert navigation.
LSTEnglishLanding Ship Tank, a type of American landing craft  [Read More]
LuftwaffeGermanGerman Air Force
magazineEnglishstorage space for a warship's ammunition
main deckEnglishhighest complete deck extending from stem to stern and side to side aboard a ship
mainmastEnglishthe second mast from the bow aboard a ship
manifestEnglisha detailed list of a maritime vessel's cargo
MaquisFrenchRural guerrilla bands of French Resistance, mostly operating in the mountainous areas of Brittany and southern France. They utilised guerrilla tactics to harass the Milice and German occupation troops.
MarinefährprahmGermanlanding craft
marlinEnglishmaritime terminology for a two-stranded tarred cord used for seizing
marlinspikeEnglishmaritime terminology for a pointed iron instrument used to separate the strands in splicing wire rope
mastEnglisha vertical structure supporting the booms of a ship
messengerEnglishmaritime terminology for a light line used for hauling a heavier rope or cable
Milizia Volontaria Sicurezza NazionaleItalianNational Security Volunteer Militia (MVSN)
moleEnglisha breakwater used as a loading pier
Molotov cocktailEnglishhand-made explosive device made from a fuel-filled bottle with a piece of rag which acted as a fuse. First employed in the Spanish Civil War, it later became a weapon symbolizing the fierce Russian resistance against German occupation. Named after Vyacheslav Molotov.
MonicaEnglishBritish radar early-warning device against fighters fitted to bombers from 1943.
MoonshineEnglishAn electric repeater carried on RAF air-sea-rescue boats that could pick up the Hohentwiel radar carried on German maritime-reconnaissance aircraft and then amplify and re-transmit them giving the impression on radar of a large fleet of ships sailing close together.
mortiseEnglishmaritime terminology for a groove for the strap of a block; also called a score
mousingEnglishmaritime terminology for closing the end of a hook with seizing to prevent the sling from slipping off
MTBEnglishmotor torpedo boat
MTBEnglishmotor gun boat
NaziGermanAn alternate abbreviation to NSDAP for the German political party National Sozialistiche Deutsche Arbeitpartei that controlled Germany until 1945.
net tonnageEnglisha measure of volume inside a ship, not counting non-cargo holding areas such as the crew's spaces
Nihon KaigunJapaneseJapanese phrase for the Japanese Navy.
nipEnglishmaritime terminology for a worn spot in a rope
niseiJapanesesecond generation; children born in a foreign country to Japanese immigrants
NKVDRussianNarodni Komissarat Vnutrennykh Del, "Soviet People's Comissariat of Internal Affairs" was the Soviet Russian internal security service, which was the predecessor to the KGB.
norman pinEnglishmaritime terminology for a pin passing through the head of a bollard to prevent hawsers from slipping off
oakumEnglisha caulking material made of old tarred hemp rope fiber, often used aboard maritime vessels
OberdeckGermanupper deck of a ship
OKWGermanThe Oberkommando der Wehrmacht was the German military high command.
OSSEnglishThe Office of Strategic Services was the American military intelligence and special operations service.
outboardEnglishtoward the side of the ship
overheadEnglishmaritime terminology for ceiling
padeyeEnglishmaritime terminology for a metal eye attached to a deck or bulkhead through which a hook, ring or line may be passed
palletEnglisha wooden platform on which material can be stacked and hoisted aboard a ship
palm whippingEnglishmaritime terminology for a short length of seizing at the end of a rope to prevent its unlaying
PanzerGermanArmor, as in tank
PanzerdeckGermanarmored deck of a ship
PanzerfaustGermanA light, disposable, and very effective German infantry anti-tank grenade launcher
PanzergrenadierGermanMechanized infantry
PanzerschiffGermanGerman pocket battleship; literally 'armored ship'
PanzerschiffeGermanA class of heavy cruisers often dubbed as pocket battleships
panzerschreckGermanRocket-propelled shaped charge grenade
PanzersprenggranateGermanarmor piercing shell (abbreviation: Psgr.)
parbuckleEnglishmaritime terminology for the method of rolling an object, such as a drum, up an incline by means of a rope
parcellingEnglishmaritime terminology for wrapping a rope spirally with long strips of tarred canvas, overlapped, in order to shed water
patent blockEnglishmaritime terminology for a block having roller bearings for the pin bearing
patent eyeEnglishmaritime terminology for a metal eye or socket secured to the end of a wire rope in place of a spliced eye
pawlEnglishmaritime terminology for a short hinged piece of metal used to engage the teeth of gear-like mechanisms so that recoil will be prevented
pay outEnglishmaritime terminology for to slack out on a line
peak tankEnglishcompartments at the extreme fore and aft ends of the ship either left void or used for water ballast
pendantEnglishmaritime terminology for a length of wire rope with a socket or an eye splice at each end
persona non grataLatinA foreign person whose entering or remaining in a particular country is prohibited by that country's government. The plural form of this term is personae non gratae.
pierEnglisha structure used for loading and unloading maritime vessels, which projects into the water, usually at right angles to the shore line
pileEnglisha timber driven into the bottom and projecting above water
plimsoll markEnglishA mark painted on the sides of a maritime vessel designating the depth to which the vessel may, under the maritime laws, be loaded in different bodies of water during various seasons of the year
pole mastEnglisha complete mast constructed from a single spar aboard a ship
Pom-PomEnglishBritish Royal Navy term for any ship-mounted automatic anti-aircraft cannon, particularly the 2-pounder Vickers.
poop deckEnglisha partial deck at the stern over the main deck aboard a ship
porpoiseEnglishbroach of a torpedo
portEnglishPort is the nautical term that refers to the left side of a ship, as perceived by a person facing towards the bow, or, the front of the ship. The term is also used for aircraft. The equivalent for the right-hand side is starboard.
preventerEnglishmaritime terminology for a rope used for additional support or safety, as, a preventer guy
prickerEnglishmaritime terminology for a small marlinspike, which is a pointed iron instrument used to separate the strands in splicing wire rope
quayEnglisha wharf used for the loading and unloading of cargo from ships, which is parallel to the shore, having water on only one side
RAAFEnglishRoyal Australian Air Force
rackingEnglishmaritime terminology for joining two ropes together by seizing
RAFEnglishRoyal Air Force of Britain
raggruppamentoItalianItalian Blackshirt formation consisted of two legione (regiments) or two gruppo battalioni (battalion group) (plural: raggruppamenti)
rakedEnglishfore and aft inclination of masts, funnels, and other structures aboard a ship
RANEnglishRoyal Australian Navy
RangersEnglishUS Army equivalent of the British Commandos trained to make hit and run raids on enemy facilities on the coast of occupied Europe.
rasItalianLocal fascist leader
rat guardEnglishmaritime terminology for a circular piece of metal fitted closely on hawsers and lines to prevent rats from boarding or leaving the ship while at the wharf
ratlineEnglishmaritime terminology for a light rope used as rungs between shrouds, for the crew to go aloft
RCAFEnglishRoyal Canadian Air Force
RCNEnglishRoyal Canadian Navy
reeferEnglisha ship designed for the carrying of refrigerated cargo
reeveEnglishmaritime terminology for to pass the end of a rope through a block
ReichGermanReich is the German word used by Nazi Germany to refer to Germany and the conquered territories. Nazi Germany was often referred to as the Third Reich; in Nazi propaganda, the First Reich referred to the Holy Roman Empire and the Second Reich referred to the German empire of 1871-1918.
ReichswehrGermanName of the German Armed Forces under the Weimar Republic between 1919 and 1935
riggingEnglishmaritime terminology for all ropes and chairs required to support the masts, yards, and booms of a vessel and to operate the moveable parts, or the act of handling and placing heavy weights and machinery; standing rigging is permanent while running rigging is temporary
RINEnglishRoyal Indian Navy
RitterkreuzGermanKnight's Cross medal
RKKARussianRobochiy Krestyanskaya Krasnaya Armiya, "The Workers and Peasants Red Army" or "Red Army" for short
RMEnglishRoyal Marines of Britain
RNEnglishRoyal Navy of Britain
RNVREnglishRoyal Naval Volunteer Reserve of Britain
RNZAFEnglishRoyal New Zealand Air Force
RNZNEnglishRoyal New Zealand Navy
RopeEnglishBundles of strips of aluminium foil (see Window) dropped every 5 seconds (or every 440 yards) to give a continuous "blib" on the German coastal radar during the Allied invasion of Normandie, France.  [Read More]
rose boxEnglishmaritime terminology for the enlarged terminal on the suction end of a pipe which forms a strainer to prevent the entrance of material liable to choke the bilge suction pipe
roundEnglishone unit of ammunition fired from a weapon
round inEnglishmaritime terminology for to bring the blocks of a tackle closer together
round lineEnglishmaritime terminology for a three-stranded rope used for fine seizings
RSHAGermanThe Reichssicherheitshauptamt, or "Reich Security Main Office", was the SS orgainization to coordinate all German police forces.
SAGermanSee Sturmabteilung
salmon boardEnglishthe platform of a platform sling aboard a ship
salvoEnglisha simultaneous firing of more than one weapons
SASEnglishAcronym for "Special Air Service", which was consisted of British Army volunteers who conducted raids behind enemy lines during the North African Campaign.
save-allEnglisha net spread from a ship's rail to the wharf to catch any cargo falling from slings during loading and unloading operations
SchiffGermanship
SchlachtkreuzerGermanbattlecruiser
SchlachtschiffGermanbattleship
SchnellbootGermanGerman name for the small and fast patrol craft of the German Navy armed with guns and torpedoes. They were larger (between 78-100 tons) than the comparable British Motor Torpedo Boats or American PT vessels and were used to attack shipping in coastal waters. Called Schnellboot (fast craft) by the Germans they were generally known as E-Boats (Enemy Boats) by the Allies.
SchutzstaffelGermanDirectly translated into English as "Protective Squadron", the Schutzstaffel was the para-military branch of the the Nazi Party in Germany. It was often referred to as the SS. The SS was established in the 1920s as Adolf Hitler's bodyguards, hence the perception that the members of the SS were of an elite group more capable than the German military. From 1929 until the end of Nazi Germany, the SS was led by Heinrich Himmler. As the European War began, SS troops conducted battles in tandem with the regular army, and was known for rampant atrocities against enemy personnel, both military and civilian. The post-war Nuremberg war crimes trials declared the SS a criminal organization.
scoreEnglishmaritime terminology for the groove in the cheek of some types of blocks, to take the strap
screwEnglishThe term "screw" is the shortened form of the full "screw propeller". It refers to the fan-like device that propels boats, ships, and other maritime vessels.
scuppersEnglishmaritime terminology for drains from decks to carry off accumulated rain or sea water
SDGermanSee Sicherheitsdienst
SEACEnglishThe Allied South East Asia Command
SeetaktEnglishGerman coast-watching radar working in the 370 MHz (megahertz) band.
seizingEnglishmaritime terminology for the light cordage used to bind a cut or spliced rope or cable, or the act of applying such
SHAEFEnglishThe Allied Supreme Headquartes Allied Expeditionary Force
shake outEnglishTo unstow specific items of cargo from a ship, particularly by dragging to the square of the hatch
shakingsEnglishmaritime terminology for waste rope, canvas, etc.
sheaveEnglishmaritime terminology for the wheel of a block
sheepshankEnglishmaritime terminology for a knot used to shorten a rope
shifting boardEnglisha temporary bulkhead in a hold to prevent the shifting of cargo aboard a ship
shoreEnglisha temporary wooden brace or prop used to support cargo aboard a ship
short tonEnglisha weight measurement equaling 2,000 pounds
shotEnglish15 fathoms of cable or anchor chain
shroudEnglishmaritime terminology for a rope extending from a mast head to the vessel's side to afford lateral support for the mast
SicherheitsdienstGermanThe Sicherheitsdienst, or SD, was directly translated into English as "Security Service". It was the Nazi German intelligence branch of the SS. It was created in 1932 by Reinhard Heydrich. In 1934, it was declared the Nazi Party's main information service provider, and it became the intelligence organization for the Nazi German state in 1938. It maintained an extensive network of agents and informants in Germany and occupied territories. After the assassination of Heydrich in 1942, Ernst Kaltenbrunner became its chief on 30 Jan 1943. The post-war Nuremberg war crimes trials declared the SD a criminal organization.
Siebel FerryGermantwin pontoon decked craft developed in response to the need for rapid personnel and vehicle transport
sisalEnglisha rope made from the fiber of the henequin plant
slack-line blockEnglishmaritime terminology for fitting attached at the midpoint of the boom to support any slack that may develop
slipEnglishmaritime terminology for the space between two piers for berthing a vessel
smokestackEnglishSynonymous with funnel, the smokestack is used to ventilate smoke from a ship's boilers.
snatch blockEnglishmaritime terminology for a single sheave block having one side of the frame hinged so that it can be opened to allow the bight of a rope to be placed on the sheave, thus avoiding the necessity of threading the end of the rope through the swallow of the block
snorter/snotterEnglishmaritime terminology for a length of rope with eye splices at each end, used as a cargo sling
snubEnglishmaritime terminology for doing a quick check to see if a line is running out
socketEnglishmaritime terminology for a wire rope fitting attached to the end of the rope and secured by molten metal which has hardened
SOEEnglishThe Speical Operations Executive was the British organization responsible for training and coodinating resistance groups in occupied countries.
spanEnglishmaritime terminology for a rope with both ends secured and a purchase attached to the bight
spanner stayEnglishmaritime terminology for a wire stay connecting two Kingposts
sparEnglisha mast, boom, yard, or any wood or metal pole used for similar purposes aboard a ship
spliceEnglishmaritime terminology for to join the ends of two lines by tucking the strands of each into the other
sponsonEnglishstructure mounted to the hull of a ship, often used to mount weapons
spotEnglishmaritime terminology for to swing a boom to any desired position by means of the boom guys and topping lift
spreaderEnglishmaritime terminology for a horizontal iron or wooden bar used to spread the legs of a sling or bridle and to keep them that way while the cargo is suspended
SprenggranateGermanhigh explosive shell (abbreviation: Spgr.)
square of the hatchEnglishmaritime terminology for the space directly under a hatch opening, extending from the opening itself down to the bottom of the hold
SSGermanSee Schutzstaffel
SSEnglishAmerican naval prefix used for steam ships; usually lightly armed or unarmed
stabilityEnglishmaritime terminology for the tendency which a vessel has to return to the upright position
StaffelGermanA staffel is the smallest combat flying unit in the German Luftwaffe. A staffel had a nominal strength of nine aircraft, but the number fluctuated depending on situation. The plural form of the word is staffeln.
stanchionEnglishmaritime terminology for wooden or metal uprights used as supports
starboardEnglishStarboard is the nautical term that refers to the right side of a ship, as perceived by a person facing towards the bow, or, the front of the ship. The term is also used for aircraft. The equivalent for the left-hand side is port.
StavkaRussianStavka Glavnogo Komandovaniya was the political arm that oversaw the Soviet military.
stayEnglishmaritime terminology for a rope or cable running fore and aft from a mast to support it
stemEnglishThe stem is the foremost point of the bow, which is the front portion of the ship.
stepEnglishmaritime terminology for to set a mast, gin pole, etc., in place
sternEnglishThe stern is the rear or after part of a ship or boat, technically defined as the area built up over the sternpost, extending upwards from the counter to the taffrail.
SteuerbordGermanSteuerbord is the nautical term that refers to the left side of a ship, as perceived by a person facing towards the bow, or, the front of the ship. The term is also used for aircraft. The equivalent for the right-hand side is Backbord. (abbreviation: St.B.)
stevedoreEnglisha person who contracts to load or unload a maritime vessel, and employs longshoremen for this purpose
stoolEnglisha platform in the hold of a maritime vessel in which cargo is landed; may be made from planking, a heap of sacks, etc.
stopperEnglishmaritime terminology for a piece of rope or chain used to hold rope under load while being transferred from drum end of the winch to a cleat or vice versa
strakeEnglisha continuous row of steel plates running the length of a ship
StukaEnglishEnglish abbreviation of the German word Sturzkampfflugzeug (diving-aircraft). Usually applied to the Junkers Ju.87 Dive Bomber.
SturmabteilungGermanLiterally "Storm Division", the SA was a para-military organization of the Nazi Party. The members were often referred to as stormtroopers or brownshirts for the color of their uniforms. It was established in Nov 1921 and remained in place until the end of the European War, but its power diminished after the Night of the Long Knives in 1934. After the war, the SA was found not to be a criminal organization.
tabernacleEnglisha watertight structure for stowing gear and housing winches aboard a ship
tackleEnglishmaritime terminology for an assembly of ropes and blocks
tareEnglishthe weight of cargo containers, strapping, etc. without considering the weight of the cargo within
tarpaulinEnglishheavy canvas
TFEnglishA naval task force was consisted of several warships.
Thatch WeaveEnglishAmerican fighter defensive maneuver used in the Pacific War. When a pair of fighters came under attack, the pair would turn into a second friendly pair, which did the same. The maneuver forced the enemy fighter to either abandon the attack on the original pair, or continue the attack but risk being tailed by the second pair of fighters.
tin canEnglishNickname for a destroyer escort
TinselEnglishTechnique by which British bomber wireless-operators fed jamming noise on to German night-fighter frequencies.
tokkotaiJapaneseSee tokubetsu kogeki tai
tokubetsu kogeki taiJapaneseInstead of the word kamikaze popularly used in western literature, Japanese sources typically cite the suicide attack forces as tokubetsu kogeki tai.
topEnglishmaritime terminology for raising or lifting up the boom
toraJapanese"Tora" is the code phrase designated by the Japanese Navy to signal the start of the attack on Pearl Harbor; it was radioed by Mitsuo Fuchida three times successively on 7 Dec 1941 to launch the strike. The word "tora" is an acronym. "To" is short for totsugeki (attack), and "ra" is short for raigeki (torpedo attack); combined, "tora" loosely translates to "commence torpedo attack".  [Read More]
trimEnglisha maritime vessel's position in the water relative to the horizontal place
TurmGermanturret
U-BoatEnglishThe English name for the German submarine, or in German, unterseeboot
ullageEnglishmaritime terminology which describes what a case or tank lacks of being full
UltrakurzwelleGermanultra short wave; very high frequency/VHF (abbreviation: U.K.)
unterseebootGermanGerman word for submarine, often anglicized as "U-Boat"
USAAFEnglishThe United States Army Air Force, which evolved from the US Army Air Corp, and was the predecessor of the post-war US Air Force
USCGEnglishUnited States Coast Guard
USMCEnglishUnited States Marine Corps
USNEnglishThe United States Navy
USOEnglishThe United Service Organization provided recreational services and entertainment shows for American military servicemen.
USSEnglishUnited States Ship, which was the prefix to the names of all American ships controlled by the US government or military
UXBEnglishunexploded bomb
V-1GermanThe first of the German Vergeltungswaffen wonder weapon, which was a jet-powered pilotless flying bomb with a range of 200 km
V-2GermanAlso known as A4, the second German Vergeltungswaffen wonder weapon carried a heavier bomb load than the V-1 and had a longer range of 320 km
V-3GermanA German Vergeltungswaffen wonder weapon which was a smooth-bore gun with a range of 93 km; they were not used in WW2
VADEnglishVoluntary Aid Detachment, a British nursing organization
VersenkenGermansinking a ship
VolkssturmGermanA para-military force organized by Germany near the end of the war as the last line of defense against the Allied invasion; it was often consisted of teenagers and older men who were not already conscripted during the war.
Vorderer KommandostandGermanfore conning tower of a ship
WAACEnglishAmerican Women's Auxiliary Army Corps
WAAFEnglishBritish Women's Auxiliary Air Force
WACEnglishUS Army Women's Army Corps
wadiArabica valley or a dry river bed
Waffen-SSGermanThe military branch of the SS
warpEnglishmaritime terminology for to move a vessel by means of a line or anchor
wash plateEnglishmaritime terminology for plates fitted fore and aft to check the rush of bilge water from side to side when the ship is rolling
WASPEnglishUS Army Air Forces Women Airforce Service Pilots  [Read More]
water loggedEnglishmartime terminology for being filled with water but still afloat
wave offEnglishsignal given by aircraft carrier landing officers to abort the landing approach of an aircraft
WAVESEnglishUS Navy Women Accepted for Voluntary Service  [Read More]
weather deckEnglishuppermost decks aboard a ship which are exposed to the weather
WehrmachtGermanArmed forces of Nazi Germany
WerftGermanshipyard
WerkGermanmachinery; mechanism; factory
wharfEnglisha place for loading or unloading maritime vessels
wharfageEnglishmaritime terminology for the charge for the use of berthing space
whipEnglishmaritime terminology for any tackle used for hoisting light weights; usually only a single fixed block
whippingEnglishmaritime terminology for turns of small cord wound around the end of a rope to prevent its unlaying
wildcatEnglishmaritime terminology for the large toothed wheel of the windlass that catches the anchor chain and carries it over the windlass
winchEnglishan engine usually electric or steam driven, secured on deck of a ship or aircraft, and fitted with drums on a horizontal axis which are used for hoisting or lowering cargo
windlassEnglisha powered apparatus used for handling heavy anchor chains, hawsers, etc. aboard a ship
WindowEnglishStrips of aluminium foil dropped by the British to flood German radar readouts.
WLAEnglishAcronym for "The Women's Land Army", which was a British civilian organization created during the First and Second World Wars to work in agriculture replacing men called up to the military.
wormingEnglishmaritime terminology for the laying of a small rope or worm along the lay of a larger rope to bring the surface of the rope more nearly round for the purpose of parceling or serving
WRNSEnglishAcronym for "Womens Royal Naval Service", which was the womens' branch of the British Royal Navy.
WVSEnglishAcronym for "Women's Voluntary Service", which was a voluntary organization concerned with helping people in need throughout England, Scotland and Wales.
yardEnglishmaritime terminology for an athwartships spar attached at its midpoint to a mast
yardarmEnglishmaritime terminology for the outer end of a yard
ZerstörerGermandestroyer



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