Bde – Brigade – typically 2-5 Battalions, up to 5000 soldiers
Coy – Company – a unit of 10o-200 soldiers
B.O. – British Officer
RIASC – Royal Indian Army Service Corps
Khassadar – locally raised troops
Dogras – Indian troops, like Gurkhas (the Nepali equivalent)
Rajputs – Indian Army regiment
Batman – army servant / orderly
Scouts – locally raised militia
nullah – river or dry river bed / gully
R.U.R. – Royal Ulster Rifles
R.P. – Type of patrol – stood for Recce post.
G.R. – Gurhka Rifles – Gurkhas being troops in the British and Indian Armies raised in Nepal.
2/13 G.R. – 2nd battalion, 13th Gurkha Rifles etc
V.B. – Vickers-Berthier light machine gun, adopted in 1932 by the Indian Army.
picquet or piquet – Guard post, forward observation post, often fixed and fortified, sometimes temporary
M.G. – machine gun
sangar – sandbagged defensive position
chaplies – leg protectors at ankle height
C.O. – Commanding officer
R.A. – Royal artillery
R.T.R. – Royal Tank Regiment
P.A. – Political administrator or agent (like local governor)
Bns – Battalions
Bn – Battalion
lashkar – rebel/insurgent
I.O. – Indian officer
B.O.R.  British other ranks
I.O.R. – Indian other ranks
Babu – Indian official/orderly?
Column – an expedition / march / large sortie
Ipi – the Osama Bin Laden of his day
Charpoy – servant / boy
Razcol – army name for the Waziristan campaign army
Ulia – ? some kind of army staff position
RSM – Regimental sergeant major
badmash – bad man (in urdu)
dushman – a local tribesman


4 responses to “Glossary”

  1. dushman > Enemy
    charpoy > a coffee table equivalent – can also be a bed.
    babu > Indian Clerk (today any indian Beaurocrat

    best regards


  2. Some clarifications / corrections to your glossary as under;

    – Rajputs = 7th Rajput Regiment
    – GR = The Gurkha Rifles regiments were all raised in India (not Nepal) albeit their recruits mostly – but not exclusively – came form Nepal
    – Sangar = Defensive position mostly made from locally abundant dry stones/boulders
    – Lashkar = Name given to a group of enemy tribesmen
    – RAZCOL = Razmak Column, the generic name by which the Razmak garrison was referred when deployed in the field
    – ULIA = Un-attached List Indian Army. An administrative category, used for example to describe British ‘Indian Army’ Officers, serving on attachment with British Infantry Regiments prior to their posting to their assigned Indian Regiments

  3. Phillip Hanson Avatar
    Phillip Hanson

    The Siege of Habbaniya

    Twas on an April morning in Nineteen Forty One,
    The station siren sounded the “do” had just begun,
    From cosy “charp” we hurried on to the tarmac bare,
    but no one really worried we saw no danger there,

    Then one bright F/O pointed to the South Plateau,
    Theres men and gun in them thar hills, but are they friend or foe,
    In any case they can’t stay there, we’ll have to scare them out,
    Though not a kite was started up, there still remained a doubt,

    In diplomatic circles Rashid had been untrue,
    In compliance with the treaty he’d agreed to let troops through,
    But his army took positions dug in the hills so near,
    And ultimatums were the rule, Ali wanted Habbaniya.

    With no immediate action, two days to just “stood by”,
    And no one could tell the reason – the when – the where – the why,
    The powers that be had all the “gen”, but kept events so tight,
    Two thousand airmen knowing “nowt”, but spoiling for a fight.

    With May the second dawning, five Wimpy’s have in sight,
    They’d journeyed up from Shaibah, been travelling half the night,
    Watch office morse was racing, the Wimpys made a turn,
    With tracer bullets chasing, they dived in line astern.

    Eighteen two fifty pounders had each of them on board,
    And they laid them very neatly among the Iraqi horde,
    Whilst in the shallow trenches inside the wire fence,
    The airmen cheered loudly, “we’ll teach these wogs some sense”.

    When much to our discomfort came whistles overhead,
    And three point sevens, and four point fives, a chotor panic spread,
    For the lads of Habbaniya but few of them had known,
    The terror of exploding shells – a screech – a thud – a groan.

    The reaction set in quickly, each had a part to play,
    Twenty odd guns to silence before the close of day,
    So up went our Gordons (museum pieces these),
    And with out heart and Audax, brought Ali to his knees.

    But not before we lost some lads (we stopped a shell or two),
    They gave their lives for freedom, they died for me and you,
    Revengeful Levies most of them, but others friends of mine,
    Each did his share – we’re grateful – and may his light so shine.

    The Iraqi Air Force did its bit to shake us from our stance,
    But when it came to combat, it didn’t stand a chance,
    ‘Cos we had Blenheims, on the job, long nosed marked MkIV planes,
    And when Peggy Audax paid a call, he was shot down for his pains.

    Then Ali called in Jerry aid, we had expected this,
    Three Heinkels made a triple run and barely scored a miss,
    Were we put out? Well – just a bit, we lost a few more mates,
    Then Hurricanes were on the spot – the kite that Jerry hates.

    For days the spotters were on edge, the station siren lagged,
    Iraqis dropped a bomb or two, and then the air blitz flagged,
    Meanwhile the Kings Own Rifles, Levies and Ghurkas few,
    Were advancing on Fallujah, and the Warwicks were with them too.

    They bombed and blitzed that village, tisn’t much more than such,
    We heard them in Habbaniya and we weren’t happy – much,
    So onto Baghdad non-stop, a leaflet raid this time,
    We wouldn’t bomb the city, it would have been a crime.

    Ramadi caught the next lot all day we let them drop,
    And just a few days later some lads weren’t there to stop,
    For food was short at Habbaniya, and beer and baccy too,
    And bully beef and biscuits is poor stuff on the blue,

    We took a trip to Mosoul wrecked Heinkels on the ground,
    Our lads met C.R.42s which didn’t hang around,
    But BBC kept rather mum, the chains we made were small,
    And according to Lord Haw-Haw we’d shot done none at all.

    The rebel leader did a bolt, to Iran so smart went he,
    Though rumour says he didn’t stay but made for Germany,
    It took a month to win this was, a month of shot and shell,
    The rebel leader did a bunk, I hope he has gone to “Hell”.

    Although the panics over at least for half a mo’,
    The blackouts still enforced here, but we see a picture show,
    They work us seven days a week – to “normal” is the cry,
    No football, cricket, tennis, squash, to normal work my eye,

    The rebels are disbanded, their lesson has been learned,
    4 FTS, a training school, the tides or fortune turned.
    So here’s to those written two thousand (for each man did his share)
    In the victory of those untrained men Heroes of Habbaniya.

    Before my storys ended, there’s just one chota bleat,
    Why don’t they build us dug outs? we need a safe retreat,
    The morale must be kept up, it’s essential in the “mob”,
    So why not give the lads a break, and works and bricks a job.

    1. James Dunford Wood Avatar
      James Dunford Wood

      I just found this comment a year later! Apologies! Fascinating – what is the origin of this poem??

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