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Galley - Gunwale
GALLEY (1) The kitchen in a ship(2) A single-banked six-oared pulling boat, otherwise known as a GIG. Until 1949 one of the boats was provided in most of the bigger HM ships as the Captain's galley; the companion boat provided in a flagship for the use of the Admiral was known as the Admiral's Gig. The name Galley may be a corruption of GILLIWATTE which was the name of the Captain's boat in the 1600 period; another possible corruption of the word Gilliwatte is Jolly Boat. "Galley Packet"Maritime slang name for Rumour, from the time honoured belief of rumours starting in the galley.
GAMMIES Old sailor's slang name for Raisins.

"Ganger"The old naval name for the towing pendant shackled round the after barbette in a battleship.


A voice cry to clear a passage when carrying a heavy or dangerous load.

GARE "To Gare(UP)"When two ships meet and need to pass in the Suez Canal one has to be stopped, secured to the bank. The operation of securing the ship to the bank of the canal is known as Garing (up).
GARLAND "Wedding Garland"It is an old naval custom to hoist a garland (usually between foremast and mainmast) on the wedding day of an officer of the ship; the garland consists of two loops of evergreen, forming a sort of sphere, with white satin ribbon streamers hanging from the base. The custom is said to have its origin in the days when wives and sweethearts were allowed on board a ship on her return to port from sea; very little work was done for the first two or three days and a garland was hoisted to indicate that the ship was `out of routine' and was not to be boarded by the Officer-of-the-Guard on his tour of inspection. The wedding garland custom properly culminates in the garland being put in the bridegroom's cabin for him to find there on his return from his honeymoon; the white satin ribbon is then the perquisite of the bride.
GAS "Gas and Gaiters"An affectionately offensive name in the Navy for the Gunnery world. Sometimes met as Gate and Gaiters. The phrase "Gas and gaiters" is a quotation from Charles dickens' `Nicholas Nickleby'.
GASH Naval slang noun or adjective meaning Superfluous."Gash Boat"Naval slang name for a sullage lighter.
GAUNTLET "To Run the Gaultlet"An old naval expression meaning to take a risk of receiving severe punishment. It comes from the old naval punishment awarded to men convicted of theft, when the offender made his way between two ranks of men each of whom was provided with a rope's end with which to belabour him; the offender was prevented from running too quickly by the Master-At-Arms holding a sword to the offender's breast.
GEDGE "The Gedge Medal and Prize"A gold medal and a prize of books award annually to the Sub-Lieutenant (S) who has passed the examination for Lieutenant (S) at the first attempt and has obtained the highest aggregate of marks in these examinations in the current year. Instituted about 1928. The money available for providing the medal and prize is the interest on a sum subscribed by the ? N Accountant Officers' Dining Club; the award commemorates Staff Paymaster J T Gedge who was killed on 6th August, 1914, in HMS AMPHION, and who was the first British Officer of all the fighting services to be killed in the 1914/18 war.
GEN Common slang name for official information. Originally a naval slang word (derived from General Signal), it transferred to the Royal Air Force via the Royal Naval Air Service.

"Gens"In earlier days this slang word invariably meant General Leave; now it more often means General Drill or General Quarters.

GENDER "Gender of HM Ships"Ships are always feminine, whatever their names. The classical author, Plautus (second century BC), wrote: "If a man is looking for trouble he only has to buy a ship or take a wife; both of them will always need trimming".
GENERAL "General Drill"Evolutions carried out competitively, against other ships and/or the clock, to test the general efficiency and liveliness of the ship's organisation. Formerly almost solely seamanlike, the evolutions now-adays are usually carefully designed to exercise all departments in the ship in their own speciality as well as others'.
GHARRY The four-wheeled horse-drawn cab found in Gibraltar.
GIBBY Old sailors' along (now obsolete) for a spoon.
GIBRALTAR Area 2¼ sq m; length 2¾m; greatest breadth nearly 1m. Artificial harbour of ¾ sq m. Civilian population about 24,000. Name comes from GEBEL TARIK ("mountain of Tarik"), Tarik being the moorish chief who took the place in AD 711 and built the castle on the rock. Moors held Gibraltar till 1309, Spain 1309 to 1333; Moors again 1333 till they finally lost it to Spain in 1462. Taken by Sir George Rooke July, 1704. Formally assigned to Great Britain by Treaty of Utrecht, 1713. British title to it confirmed by Treaty of Seville, 1729, and Treaty of Vienna, 1731. By Treaty of Versailles, 1783, Spain agreed to forego her claim to Gibraltar in return for Minorcan and Florida (latter sold by Spain to USA in 1809). Ship-name of the naval base is now HMS ROOKE; for many years until 1946 it was HMS CORMORANT which hulk was berthed alongside there. see PILLARS. VIGO "To Celebrate the Siege of Gibraltar"To "celebrate the siege of Gibraltar" is merely an excuse to have a drink. As the 13 sieges of Gibraltar have covered so great a period it is safe to regard any day in the year as an anniversary of a siege of Gibraltar.
GILBY A slang name for a WRNS rating's soft "Sailor" hat; from the name of the Victorian hatter who invented the gibus or opera-hat.
GILL The Weights and Measures Act (1878) defines a gill as a quarter of a pint; this is what it is in the Navy. But by local custom, mainly in the North of England, the word Gill is sometimes used - quite incorrectly - to describe a half-pint.
GILT "To Knock the Gilt off the Gingerbread"A common expression of nautical origin meaning to spoil the best part of a thing or story. In the old days in Germany, gingerbread was always on sale at the country fairs and traditionally was splashed with gilt to make its appearance more attractive. From this custom, the gilded and painted carvings at the bows, stern and entrance ports of sailing ships of war came to be known as "gingerbread work". To knock the gilt off this gingerbread not only incurred the displeasure of the ship's captain but often, owing to the age and condition of the ship, damaged the best part of the vessel.
GIMLETTE Common name for gin laced with lime juice cordial. The name comes from the name of the naval surgeon - Gimlette - who introduced this drink as a means of inducing his messmates to take lime juice as an anti-scorbutic. Sir Thomas D Gimlette, KCB, joined the Navy in October, 1879, as a Surgeon; he retired in June, 1913, as a Surgeon General.
GINGER "Ginger Beer Demander"A slang name sometimes heard in the past for the engineer Commander.
GIRD "To be girded" - A ship is said to be girded when she is towed broadside by her tow rope
GLORIOUS "HMS Glorious"Aircraft carrier (ex large light cruiser) sunk by gunfire of the German ships SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU off North Norway 8 June, 1940.
GLORY "The Glory Hole" (1) In the Navy, any repository for general untidinesses. (2) In a passenger liner, the Stewards' mess. (3) In the older coal-burning tramp steamers, the stoke hold.
GLOVES "Officer's Gloves"The wearing of brown leather gloves is now optional except for officers in blue uniform who are to wear them when forming part of ceremonial landing parties or a guard. White gloves are now in abeyance.
GOBBY Old slang name for a Coastguard in the days (until 1923) when that Service came under the Admiralty. The Coastguard Service was largely manned by retired officers and ratings of the Navy so the word was often loosely applied to all ex-naval men. A Gobby Ship, originally a harbour service ship to which RNR men were drafted for their week's biennial training, was one from which the highest standards of efficiency were not to be expected.

In modern times, Gobby is a sailors' slang name for a rating in the Quarter-deck division in a ship.

GOD "God-Botherer"A slang name for the Chaplain or for any ardent church-goer or puritan. Synonyms are BIBLE-BANGER and DEVIL-DODGER.
GOFFER Naval name for a non-alcoholic drink such as lemonade; the place where goffers are sold is the Goffer Bar. Before the days of NAAFI soda fountains, goffers were often made and sold on board by authorised members of the ship's company, known as the Goffer Firm. Sometimes erroneously spelt Gopher (from Genesis vi.14.).
GOLD "The Golden Rivet"An old mythological story was that one of the rivets in the lower parts of the ship's hull was made of gold. The golden rivet is as fabulous as the Key of the Starboard watch and a Hammock ladder and, like them, has covered many a new entry with confusion. "The Goldfish Club" The members of the Goldfish Club have all crashed an aircraft into the sea or have baled out from an aircraft over water.


Common slang name for medals and decorations.

GOOD "Good Conduct Badges"Good Conduct Badges (worn on the left arm) were first authorised in 1849 for award after 5, 10 and 15 years' satisfactory service. These periods were changed to 3, 8 and 13 years in 1861, and to 4, 8 and 12 years in 1946. Since 1956 the extra pay given for them is 4d per badge per day.
GOODENOUGH "The Goodenough Medal and Prize"A gold medal and a sum of money is awarded annually to the Sub-Lieutenant who, when passing for the rank of Lieutenant, passes the best examination of his year in Gunnery, provided he has also taken a first class certificate in Seamanship. The funds for this award come from the interest on a sum of money provided in memory of Captain J G Goodenough, CB CMG, who died on 20 August, 1875, (while serving as Commodore on the Australian Station) from wounds inflicted with poisoned arrows in an unprovoked attack by natives of Santa Cruz.
GOZO The second largest of the five Maltese islands. see MALTA."Gozo Boat" A two-masted sailing boat (usually nowadays with auxiliary engine) indigenous to Gozo. Lateen rigged, brightly painted, with high stern. "My Brother from Gozo"A Maltese rating's time-honoured explanation of his failure to carry out an order is to maintain that the order was not given to him but to his "brother from Gozo".
GRABBIES A sailors' slang name for Soldiers.
GRACE Grace before and after dinner in the wardrooms of HM ships and naval establishments is invariably said by a Chaplain if present; if no Chaplain is present, the mess president says grace. Grace is not normally said before or after other meals in the Navy. No one form of wording is any more usual than another.
GRAIN An old (XVII century) word for the line of water ahead of a ship along which she will pas: the opposite to WAKE.
GRANNY "Granny Knot"A reef knot incorrectly tied (strands crossed the wrong way); but this knot is correct when tying two pieces of small chain together.
GRAPE "Grape Shot"A series of layers of iron balls kept in place round a central spindle by holes in (or indentations in either side of) circular iron plates which would just fit the bore of the appropriate cannon. When the shot was fired the balls freed themselves from their retaining plates and scattered. Also known as TIER SHOT.
GRAPNEL Although a grapnel is indeed an iron-clawed instrument thrown, on the end of a rope, to seize an object, a boat's grapnel in the Navy is the length of rope used in a boat as a bow-rope or `painter'. A Creeper is a grapnel used for dragging the sea-bottom.
GRAVING "Graving Dock"In the old days, to grave a ship was much the same thing as to careen her. So when the first dry dock was made - at Portsmouth in 1495 (where the VICTORY is now lodged) - it was called a Graving dock.
GREEN "Jimmy Green"Naval slang name for a greenhorn. "Sticky Green"Officers' slang name for Creme de Menthe.
GRIPPO "(Count) Grippo"A modern ephemeral synonym for Harry Freeman.
GROG GROG is the mixture of one-eighth of a pint of rum with ¼ pint of water (i.e., 1 part rum, 2 parts water) issued as a daily ration to all ratings below Petty Officer of and over the age of 20 years who desire it; CPOs and POs draw their rum neat; men entitled to the rum or grog issue who do not draw it receive GROG MONEY (21/- per part or) in lieu; officers are not entitled to the daily ration of rum or grog. Grog money was increased to 3d per day in 1919; prior to then it had been 1s/7d per month. In 1740 Admiral Vernon (commonly known as "Old Grog" because of the cloak he habitually wore, made of a coarse kind of taffeta called Grogram) introduced the watering-down of the sailors' rum; the watered rum accordingly soon achieved the name of Grog. In 1740 the issue was ? pint of rum mixed with 1 quart of water, issued in the forenoon and again in the evening; the evening issue was stopped in 1824 and the ration of rum reduced to one gill in 1850. Two-water grog replaced three-water grog early in 1937. Admiral Vernon's actual instruction about grog is contained in a letter dated from HMS BURFORD at Port Royal, Jamaica, 30 August, 1940; it directs that the daily allowance of ? pint rum per man is to be mixed with a quart of water `in one scuttled butt kept for that purpose, and to be done upon deck, in the presence of the Lieutenant of the Watch, who is to see that no man is cheated of his proper allowance'. (A scuttled butt is a barrel with one end removed).
GULF "Up the Gulf"Service in the Persian Gulf.
GUMPERS Sailors' slang (ephemeral) for sentimental.
GUTS It is an old naval saying that "Midshipmen have guts, ward room officers have stomachs, but flag officers have palates"!
GUZZ Short for `Guzzle' this is the sailors' name for Devonport. It is said to have originated in the old sailing warships whose crews, on returning to Devonport after years of absence, made up for lost time by eating and drinking ravenously all the good things that the West country can provide.
GUN "Court Martial Gun"The Court-Martial gun (known unofficially as the "Rogue's Salute" or a "One-gun salute") is the signal gun fired at `Colours' on the morning of the day on which a naval court-martial has been ordered to assemble. A Union flag is flown from the peak halliards (at the yard arm in a single-masted ship) while the Court is sitting. In bygone days it was customary to fire a gun to muster on deck all hands in all ships present to witness a yard-arm execution; a yellow flag was hoisted and kept flying until the sentence has been carried out. When keel-hauling was a recognised punishment, a single gun was fired over the head of the malefactor as he was about to emerge from the water, `which is done as well to astonish him the more with the thunder thereof, which much troubles him, as to give warning unto all others to look out and beware of his harm'. "The Gun Room"The usual name for the `young gentlemen's' mess in the old days was the "Midshipmen's Berth" (or Berths, for there were usually several of these in a large ship). The newest joined lads were sometimes put in charge of the Gunner and lived in his sanctum, known as the Gunroom, where pistols, muskets, etc., were stored; the lads moved thence to a Midshipmen's Berth when they were rated midshipmen. Later, all junior officers messed in the Midshipmen's Berth(s) and Lieutenants in the Gunroom (right aft, beneath the Captain's cabin). In about 1840 the midshipmen's mess, known as the Gunroom, was sited above the waterline (at least) on the lower gun deck and usually ran right across the ship, thus having at least one gun on each side. "Son of a Gun"Although frequently used as meaning a "good fellow", this is really an old naval expression casting aspersions on a man's parentage. In the days when women were allowed on board during a ship's stay in port, the gun decks were often the scenes of debauchery; and if a male child was born he was called a Son of a Gun. An old description of such is "he was begotten in the galley and born under a gun: every hair a rope yarn, every finger a fish-hook, every tooth a marline spike and his blood right good Stockholm tar"; he would be christened "Tom Bowline" or "Bill Backstay" or some such name. Tom Bowline was a famous character who died of wounds in 1790 and was buried at Haslar; he went ashore once in seventeen years.

The name (pronounced GUN'L) given to the uppermost line of planking of a boat's sides. In the old ships the upper tier of guns used to fire over the top planking which was therefore specially strengthened by "wales".