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United Kingdom - Royal Navy: Glossary

By "Newjack"

Apprentice - Boy aged 16 to 18 trained in technical skills at the Dockyard Schools to become an Artificer (nicknamed "Plumber").

Bimmy (or togey, teazer, sennet whip) - A length of rope (about 18 inches) made heavier and more brittle by dipping in hot tar, usually with a knot in the receiving end, or leather shoe-laces pleated to form a single length.

Bitts - The wooden structure (two uprights supporting one crossbar) on the upper deck of sailing ships to which the ends of sheets (ropes to haul sails) were tied. Also used on some training and seagoing ships to tie boys over for corporal punishment.

Boy, as rated (after World War II known as a 'Junior') - Aged between 15½ and 18. On a boy's 18th birthday he automatically became rated as an Ordinary Seamen and was subject to the Naval Discipline Act as applicable to adult seamen.

Boy 1st Class - A boy aged 16 to 18 under training who had served for between 9 months and 18 months rated as Boy 2nd Class, shown sufficient proficiency in seamanship and accumulated at least one Good Conduct Badge (the requirements varied between training ships). His rate of pay was increased on being promoted.

Boy 2nd Class - A boy aged 15 to 17 rated as such on entry to a training ship of the Royal Navy. Such entry was conditional on a boy being of adequate physical height, weight and medical fitness and who possessed evidence of being of 'good character'. The boy's parents or guardians would sign a declaration that the boy would serve in the Navy for a minimum period (usually 12 years).

Boy 3rd Class - A boy aged 14 to 18 who served either as a Domestic (waiter, steward) aboard the port flagships or as a junior clerk or storekeeper in the ports. He would be eligible for entry to a training ship as a Boy 2nd Class if he met the physical requirements. The majority of such boys were enlisted from homes in the ports and were not wholly resident on ships or in the dockyards.

Cadets - Boys aged 13 to 15 enlisted to become officers and trained on HMS "Britannia" moored at Dartmouth.

Cobbing - unofficial corporal punishment inflicted by seamen or midshipmen on the posterior of wayward colleagues, usually with a cane, rope's end or the flat of a dirk scabbard.

Gunroom - a small area on a lower deck set aside for social use by midshipmen, often in the fo'cl'sle (bows of a ship).

Midshipman - A boy aged 16 to 18 serving aboard a seagoing ship, having passed out of the cadet ship "Britannia" and undergoing further training before being promoted to the fully-commissioned officer rank of Sub-Lieutenant.

Orlop deck - the lowest deck on a ship.

Quarter Deck - The deck at the stern of a sailing ship, raised above the upper deck, where the officers kept watch and undertook duties, and from where the Captain addressed the whole crew. In social terms boys who entered the Royal Navy as cadets were known to be destined for the 'quarter deck', i.e. to become officers, and it was rare that a 'lower deck' seaman was promoted to officer rank.

Patterned birch or cane - specimen birches and canes kept at the principal dockyards.

Victuals - food and stores supplied to seagoing ships.

Wardroom - The commissioned officers' mess (eating) and social quarters.

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blob Corporal punishment in the British Navy (20th century)

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Text copyright © "Newjack" 2003, presentation copyright C. Farrell 2003
Page created August 2003