A Glossary of Terms Used in Somewhere in France

A.B.C. tea shops: a chain of tea shops in Great Britain operated by the Aerated Bread Company from the 1860s to the early 1980s. Its largest competitor was the chain of tea shops operated by J. Lyons and Co.

ADS: Advanced dressing station. After receiving first aid in the front lines, a soldier would be evacuated to the nearest ADS and from there to a casualty clearing station.

AOC: Army Ordnance Corps. Its members repaired and maintained small arms and artillery, and were also responsible for the disposal of unexploded, or “dud,” shells.

ASC: Army Service Corps. Its members were responsible for military transport and supplies.

Base hospitals: Larger facilities, well behind the lines, which received casualties from the casualty clearing stations.

BEF: British Expeditionary Force. Typically refers to members of the pre-war regular army who were in France before the end of the First Battle of Ypres in November, 1914.

Belgravia: A small district in central London notable for its grand squares of large Georgian houses. Lilly’s family lives in Belgrave Square, from which the district takes its name.

Blighty: Soldiers’ slang for home. A Blighty wound was a coveted injury, just serious enough to merit evacuation from the front lines but not bad enough to kill or permanently maim a man, and ideally would result in a period of convalescence in England.

Carrel-Dakin solution: An antiseptic solution, also known as Dakin’s fluid. Developed early in the war, it treated infected wounds with greater success than anything previously devised.

CCS: Casualty clearing station. A hospital, in most cases situated within miles of the front lines, where soldiers were cared for until their condition was stable enough to allow evacuation to a base hospital.

Ceilidh: Pronounced “key-leigh.” A social gathering that typically features traditional Gaelic music and dancing.

Chilblains: Tissue injury that occurs when a person is exposed to cold and humid conditions, often resulting in swollen skin, itching, blisters and infection.

Clearing hospital: Another term for casualty clearing station.

Clippie: Popular term, first coined during the First World War, for women conductors on bus and tram lines.

FANY: First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. One of the smallest and most selective of the women’s services, the FANY was founded in 1907 and provided nurses, motor ambulance drivers and general volunteer aid in France during the war.

First week: Term used at the University of Oxford for the first week of each eight-week term, of which there are three in a year (Michelmas, Hilary and Trinity).

Fritz: Soldiers’ slang for a German soldier.

Front-line aid station: Also known as a regimental aid post, this is where a soldier would first receive care, typically by a medic, before being evacuated to an ADS.

Gaiters: Protective covering for the lower leg, typically made of leather, which officers might wear instead of puttees (see below).

Kiltie: Affectionate term for a Scottish soldier or member of a Scottish regiment. “Jock” was another common slang term for anyone Scottish.

LGOC: London General Omnibus Company. Lilly works for the LGOC as a painter and then as a clippie. The LGOC was the largest bus operator in London from the mid-1850s to the mid-1930s and was eventually absorbed into what is now Transport for London.

Mithering: To fuss or whine about something; popular term in central and northern England.

Mufti: Civilian dress worn by someone who typically wore a uniform (such as a WAAC).

NCI: Mix of naphthalene, creosote, and iodoform used in powder or paste form to control lice.

Nought week: Term used at the University of Oxford for the week immediately preceding the first week of term; typically the week when students arrive and settle into their lodgings.

OC: Officer in command. The CCS where Robbie works has an OC, a colonel, rather than a CO (commanding officer). A CO would typically command a larger entity than would an OC.

Other ranks: All ranks that are not commissioned officers. This usually includes non-commissioned officers such as sergeants and warrant officers.

Persian insect powder: A powder made from Pyrethrum flowers and used as an insecticide.

Pipped: Soldiers’ slang for being hit by a bullet.

Puttees: lengths of fabric that were wrapped over a soldier’s trouser legs from the ankle to just below the knee; meant to serve as further protection from damp and cold.

RAMC: Royal Army Medical Corps. Its members included not only medical staff such as physicians but also support workers such as orderlies. By 1918 it had 13,000 officers and 154,000 other ranks serving in all theaters of war.

RAP: Regimental aid post. See “front-line aid station,” above.

Receiving room: Roughly the equivalent of today’s emergency room, it was the area of a hospital where patients with acute and often life-threatening conditions were examined on a triage basis. Robbie worked in the receiving room of the London Hospital for several years after first qualifying as a physician.

Reception marquee: The large tent where wounded soldiers were brought upon arrival at a casualty clearing station.

Resuss: The tent or building at a CCS where grievously wounded soldiers were stabilized before surgery or were sent for palliative care.

Sam Browne belt: A wide belt, typically made of leather, with an additional support strap that passes over the right soldier. Worn exclusively by officers.

Scout: A servant, typically male, who saw to housekeeping and other chores for undergraduates in residence at Oxford colleges.

Tommies: term for British soldiers, usually other ranks, derived from “Tommy Atkins,” and popular for at least a hundred years before the Great War.

VAD: Volunteer Aid Detachment. The VAD was founded in 1909 with the aim of providing nursing and support services throughout the British Empire. Nearly 40,000 women served with the VAD during the war, among them Vera Brittain, Agatha Christie and Amelia Earhart.

WAAC: Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. The WAAC was renamed Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps in late 1918 in recognition of its members’ achievements. Nearly 60,000 women served in the WAAC during the war. WAAC was also the term used for an individual member of the corps.

A note on currency: Before British currency was decimalized in 1971—that is, before pounds and pence were measured in divisions of one hundred—it was measured in pounds, shillings, and pence. Twelve pence made up one shilling and twenty shillings made up one pound, with a total of 240 pence in a pound. Written in numeric form, a pound was symbolized by the term still in use, “£,” while a shilling was “s” and a pence was “d”. Other coins were circulated: the farthing (worth one quarter of one pence), the halfpenny, threepence and sixpence, the crown (worth five shillings) and the half-crown (worth two shillings and sixpence). Less commonly seen were the florin, worth two shillings, and the guinea, which actually referred to a gold coin no longer in circulation, and in practice was simply the amount of one pound and one shilling.