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Daddy - Dutchman
DADDY "Sea Daddy" A senior rating or Instructor in charge of new entries, to help and guide them as well as to instruct them. Similarly, any rating who takes a newly-joined rating under his wing for this purpose.

Officers with extra high specialist qualifications are denoted in the Navy List by an obelus or abelisk ("dagger") before their names. e.g. "Dagger G", "Dagger "E, etc


Naval slang name for the Canteen Manager on board; an abbreviation of "Canteen Damager".


"Dan Buoy"

A spar buoy with a flag, used to mark minesweeping, etc., area of water.

DARTMOOR "Dartmoor Mutiny" An ephemeral sailors' slang name for Porridge. The quality of the porridge at Dartmoor was alleged to be the reason for the mutiny of prisoners there in January, 1932.

"RN College, Dartmouth" The college buildings were designed by Sir Aston Webb and built by Messrs. Higgs & Hill; building began in 1900, the "foundation" stone being laid by H.M. King Edward VII in 7th March, 1902, and was completed in December, 1905. The college stands in its own grounds of 135 acres, with 19? acres of recreation grounds nearby; the college also owns 6? acres of Foreshore. From 1905 cadets (entered at 12?) spent 2 years at Osborne, followed by 2 years at Dartmouth: from 1913 (entry at 13?) 1 year at Osborne followed by 3 at Dartmouth. Ship-name was "BRITANNIA" from 1905 to 1953 when it was changed to "DARTMOUTH", following the launching of H.M. Yacht BRITANNIA, and the title changed to the BRITANNIA ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE.

Until 1941 Dartmouth was in effect a specialised public school and full fees were paid by parents; a scholarship scheme was introduced in 1941, culminating in 1948 in free tuition and board with parents paying a maximum of £90 per year. Dartmouth was cleared of all cadets in August 1914 but replenishment started from Osborne in 1915. All but the junior term were sent to sea in Autumn 1917. The BRITANNIA ship herself was scrapped in 1869; she had been the cadet training ship at Portsmouth 1859-61, at Portland 1861-64 and at Dartmouth 1864-69. The various bulks at Dartmouth constituting the BRITANNIA establishment remained until 1906. see CADET.
DAVIS "The Davis Submerged Escape Apparatus" ("D.S.E.A") Invented by Sir Robert Davis, head of Messrs. Siebe Gorman and Co. It is not a method of escape but merely an adjunct. It consists of a breathing bag fed with oxygen fitted with a mouthpiece; a noseclip compels breathing through the mouth. On the surface, the apparatus acts as a lifebelt. User must remember to disconnect mouthpiece when he reaches the surface or else he will suffocate when the oxygen supply is exhausted; by breathing pure oxygen under pressure, or in fact over a depth of 60 ft., men may get convulsions or blackouts.
DD The traditional and authorised method of recording on an official naval document that an officer or rating has been "discharged dead".
D-DAY 6th June, 1944.
DEAD "Dead Horse"
DEAD MARINE Common slang name for an empty bottle. The expression is said to have been used by King William IV in the presence of some Royal Marine officers to whom he hurriedly explained that he meant that, like a Royal Marine, having done one job of work, the bottle was ready to do another.

"Death Sentance"

Death sentence was last passed by a naval court-martial in 1945, on a man charged with murder, but the sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

DEMURRAGE Compensation paid to the owner of a vessel which has been delayed in port beyond the time agreed on.

"Depth Charges"

Sailors' slang name for Stewed figs

"Greatest Depths in the Sea"

Philippine Trench (near Mindanao, W. Pacific), over 35,400 feet deep - over 6? miles; Kamchatka-Kurile depression (N. Pacific) is about 6 miles deep. Other places of great depth are near the Friendly Isles, N. of New Zealand; Tuscarora Deep near Japan; the Banda sea (East Indies); North Puorto Rico, West Indies; North of the Sandwich Isles (S. Atlantic).


A hangman named Derrick in the time of Queen Elizabeth I used to hang his `victims' from a spar fitted with a purchase and topping lift. This gave to the lifting appliance the name now generally used.


"Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea"

Common metaphorical expression meaning "in a quandary". In a wooden ship, the "devil" is the top plank or strake immediately below the sheer strake, and a person working over the ship's side below this plank was working in a very uncertain position.
DGHAISA The harbour rowing boat peculiar to Malta; propelled by one or two men, of whom one always and both sometimes push the oars instead of pulling them. Pronounced "DI-SAR" or "DI-SO".
DHOBEY Services' slang name for Laundry - both the firm who does the work and the materials which are washed; from Hindustani. A Dhobey Firm is a man (or men) who do other men's laundry for them.
DICKY A naval; diminutive adjective; e.g., a "Dicky run ashore" is a short spell of shore leave, a "Dicky flannel" is the short flannel (or vest) worn by seamen with blue uniform in the summer.
DIDO "Cutting a Dido" To do something out of the ordinary. From the name gained by H.M.S. DIDO, a particularly clean and smart ship serving on the Mediterranean Station about 1906, who, on certain occasions before coming to anchor steamed round the Fleet to show off her smart appearance. This DIDO was a Cruiser of the ECLIPSE (or TALBOT) class, launched 1896; of 5,6000 tons, 364 feet in length, 2 funnels, 19 knots and (later) eleven 6" guns; she was scrapped in 1925.
DIFFERENT "Different Ships: Different Long Splices" The naval version of the old Latin tag "Tot Homines, quot sententiac", or the French "Autres temps, autres moeurs"; i.e., there are different ways of doing the same thing, different countries have different habits and customs.
DIG "Dig In" Common slang for "Help yourself" (to food)

Common slang for "Work hard", "Get down to it"

DINGHY A small boat; the name comes from the Bengali word for small boat carried in, or attached to, a larger vessel.
DINNER "Like a Spare Dinner" A traditional expression used after the words "hanging about" for picturesque emphasis when speaking of a person or persons standing about waiting. In messing systems other than Cafeteria, the "cook" of each mess serves food on to plates for his messmates on the mess table. The untouched dinner plate of a non-arrival, as it congeals, is a graphic picture of something unwanted.
DIP "To Dip" Navalese for to lower partially and temporarily (primarily of flags). Metaphorically (slang), the word indicates the removal from uniform of badges of rank or good conduct as a punishment; hence broadly, to fail (as in an examination). "Pusser's Dip" Old naval name for a candle. From the old method of making candles, whereby a wick was dipped in molten fat or wax until a candle was obtained of the required thickness.
DIRK The Midshipman's sword, just under 2 feet long, the dirk was officially introduced in 1833 for Volunteers; Midshipmen were not given dirks until 1856. They were slung from waist belts (which came in about 1825). Their disappearance from the Navy dates from 1939.

"Pusser's Dirk"

Sailors' slang name for the clasp-knife, part of the compulsory kit of all seamen ratings, as obtainable from the Clothing Store.
DISCOVERY "HMS Discovery"The first ship specially built in the UK for polar exploration work; launched at Dundee 21st March, 1901. Her first Commanding Officer was Captain R F Scott. From 1905 to 1911 she was owned by the Hudsons Bay Co. During the 1914/18 war she was chartered to the French government for coastal duties. In 1916 the Hudson's Bay Co. offered the ship to the Admiralty for relief expedition to rescue Shackleton but in fact the ship was too late for this. She then remained with the Hudson's Bay Co. till 1920 when she was laid up. She was engaged on whaling research and hydrographical survey 1925/29 and in 1929/30 she was in Antarctic waters (loaned to the British-Australia-New Zealand Research Expedition under Sir Douglas Mawson). Laid up in East India Dock, London, 1931/36 when she was given to the Boy Scouts Association as a training ship for sea scouts (the handing-over ceremony on 9th October, 1937 was attended by 6 members of the ship's company of the ship's first voyage). Transferred from the Boy Scouts Association to the Admiralty as a free unconditional gift in June, 1954. Formally handed over 20th July 1955, and commissioned as an additional drill ship for the London division of the RNVR (now RNR) Flagship of the Admiral Commanding Reserves.
DISH "Dish Up" In the Navy this expression refers to clearing and washing up after a meal, not to serving food before the meal.
DITCH Naval slang for the sea when used as a noun, for to throw away when used as a verb.
DITTY "Ditty Box" The plain unstained wooden box (12" x 8" x 6"), part of every seaman's kit in the old days, in which he kept his personal possessions such as photographs, letters, curios, etc. Ditty boxes disappeared from the Navy when adequate kit lockers were provided in ships; prior to those days, a man's kit was permanently stowed in his kit bag, for the stowage of which back-racks were provided on the mess-decks. The word "ditty" may come from the Anglo-Saxon word "dite" meaning neat or tidy; or from the convenient size of the box for containing the ditties or pamphlets much published in the XVIII century; or because the boxes superseded bags made of "dittis", a form of cotton material. Certainly one reads of "ditty bags" in naval books of the 1700 period. Other suggested origins of the word are corruption's of "oddities" and "Commodity box".
DIVISIONS Daily "Divisions", when the men fall in before being put to various jobs in the ship, was introduced by Kempenfelt in 1780.
DOC "(The) Doc" The inevitable ward room nickname for the medical officer when only one is borne: if two are borne, the senior is invariably addressed and referred to as "(the) PMO" (Principal Medical Officer) although his official title is SMO (Senior Medical Officer) and the Junior as "(the) Young Doc". The nickname "Poisoner" may be applied to any medical officer.
DOCKYARD An old sailors' slang word signifying Cautious. This may have arisen from the implication that the man was in need of repair or, more probably, from the fact that before the Post Office Savings Bank was open to the Navy as it now is (i.e., until March 1933), ratings could declare monthly allotments to the Dockyard savings bank.
PORTSMOUTH DOCKYARD King Henry VII selected Portsmouth harbour as the site of a Royal Dockyard in June, 1495.

"To Dodge Pompey" An old naval expression meaning to evade doing a job of work.

DODGER (1) The official name for a canvas screen round the bridge of a small ship as some protection from the weather. (2) The general naval nickname for a Sweeper (q.v.).
DEVIL-DODGER One of several slang nicknames for the Chaplain - or for any ardent church-goer.
DOG "Dogs of War" An old gun room collective name for the junior members of the mess when directed by the Sub-Lieutenant to expel someone from the mess. "Dogrobbers" A name given by officers to an old plain clothes suit, worn on such occasions as taking exercise in the country, fishing, etc. "Doggy" Naval name for the Midshipman detailed to attend the Captain or Commander. "Dogsbody" Common slang name for someone of very little importance.
DONKEY Naval slang name for the chest in which an artisan or artificer keeps his tools; also for any small piece of machinery - e.g., "jewing donkey", a sewing machine; "donkey pump", a small general service pump.
DONKEY'S BREAKFAST An old naval name for a hammock-mattress.
DOUBLE "Double-Banked" Technically, two rowers pulling on the same oar (or two rowers, with separate oars, using the same thwart), this expression is used generally to denote `doubling-up', i.e.., sleeping two in a single cabin, two sittings for meals, etc.

An old Spanish gold coin, originally worth two pistoles (about £1.15.0.).


"The go down to 30 fathoms"

DOWSE Normally to extinguish a light; where the association of ideas permits this verb can be applied to other objects - e.g., to lower a sail, to close a scuttle.
D'OYLY "The Clare D'Oyly Memorial Prize" A sum of money awarded three times a year to the officer who has shown the best all-round officer like qualities during the whole course of his training at the R.N. Engineering College. Instituted 1942 by Vice-Admiral W.H. D'Oyly and his wife to perpetuate the memory of their son, Lieutenant (E) R.C.H. D'Oyly who was killed in action in March, 1941.
DRAFTING "The Drafting Commander" The Drafting Commander in a naval depot is responsible to the Commodore for all drafting arrangements and for ensuring that all ratings, so far as possible, spend fair lengths of time at home and abroad, ashore and afloat. His office also keeps the Advancement Rosters and issues authority notes for advancing to higher rating all men whose advancement is on the roster system. Familiarly known as "DRAFTIE"


"HMS Drake" The ship-name borne by the Royal Naval Barracks, Devonport, since 1st January, 1934; prior to then the ship-name had been H.M.S. VIVID.

"Admiral Sir Francis Drake" Born about 1540; died 28th January, 1596, on board his flagship, H.M.S. DEFIANCE, and buried at sea off Puerto Rico.

DRAUGHT "Draught Marks" On H.M. ships, draught marks are in Roman figures; the figures are six inches high, the bottom of the figure indicating the draught.
DREADNOUGHT "HMS Dreadnought" The ship which revolutionised battleship design; the first "all-big-gun" battleship. Laid down at Portsmouth 2nd December, 1905; launches 10th February, 1906; completed 11th December, 1906; scrapped 1920. 17,900 tons, 520 feet in length,2 funnels, 21 knots, ten 12" guns in five twin turrets, complement 800. Officers' accommodation was forward. Cost £1¾m.
DRESSING "Dressing a Ship" Decorating a ship with flags as a sign of rejoicing goes back to the earliest times. Until 1889 each ship devised her own scheme for the arrangement for her flags but this is now rigidly standardised in order that by no stretch of the imagination could the flags be construed into any message. H.M. ships in commission may dress either "overall" or "with masthead flags only": H.M. ships not in commission do not wear colours or dress ship. H.M.ships not under way dress overall unless otherwise ordered: H.M. ships never dress overall when under way - they then dress with masthead (including jackstaff and ensign staff) flags only. H.M. Ships dress with the white ensign at their mastheads except that in flagships the Admiral's flag takes the place of the white ensign at the appropriate masthead. A foreign warship dressing ship in British waters, or in British honour, wears the white ensign at her mainmast head: similarly, an H.M. ship dressing ship in foreign waters, or in foreign honour, wears the ensign of that country at her main masthead. See Q.R. & A.I., 1240.

"The Drink" Maritime slang name for the Sea. Synonyms are the Ditch, the Pond, the Oggin.


Naval slang word (verb and noun) for continual grumbling.


Officers' slang name for the Hydrographer of the Navy.

DRUMMER Naval name for a Royal Marine bugler, for whom the traditional nickname is "Sticks".



"Full Due" Naval slang expression meaning "for all time".


"Figgy Duff"

Naval name for any kind of steamed suet pudding, whether or not it contains figs.


An old naval slang name for Ward room guest night.


Naval slang adjective for a Devonport man or ship.


Amphibious vehicle

DUMMY "Dummy Run" The naval name for a trial or practice in which all the motions are gone through but nothing else. E.g., in a gunnery dummy run all the motions of laying, setting, loading and firing are gone through meticulously but the gun is not actually fired. The expression is therefore freely used in the Navy to mean a rehearsal.
DUNKIRK "Evacuation from Dunkirk" 26th May to 4th June, 1940. Some 1700 ships of all sorts took part and brought off some 337,100 men (including 112,500 allied troops and 13,000 B.E.F. casualties). The naval aide of the operation ('Operation Dynamo') was controlled by Vice-Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, F.O. Dover, who was promoted K.C.B., 7th June, 1940.
DUNNAGE Technically, packing material used to protect or wedge in cargo or stores; maritime slang for a person's clothes and/or baggage.
DUST "Dustman" An old name, now obsolete, for a Stoker rating.
JACK DUSTY Traditional nickname for a junior member of the victualling staff, also known as "Dusty-boy".
DUTCHMAN "A Dutchman" Old maritime name for a German (i.e. Deutsch) ship; a Dutch ship was referred to as a "Hollander". "The Dutchman's Anchor" An old naval synonym for anything that has been left behind. The expression derives from an apocryphal Dutch captain who explained after his ship had been wrecked "Oh yes, I had an excellent anchor: unfortunately I left it at home that voyage". "Dutchman's Log"

A simple method of measuring speed in slow moving ships. An object which will float is throw overboard and the time it takes to float to abreast a mark 47 feet 3 inches further aft is noted: 28 seconds for this distance equals one knot - 14 seconds equals 2 knots.