Snafu: Sailor, Airman and Soldier Slang of World War II, Gordon L. Rottman

Snafu: Sailor, Airman and Soldier Slang of World War II, Gordon L. Rottman

This is the sequel to FUBAR: Soldier's Slang of World War II, which only covered army slang. Here we have some army slang, but most of the book is taken up with navy and air force slang, from the British, American and German services.

I was pleased to find the German section filled with genuine slang rather than with translations of standard terms. There are some codenames and abbreviated terms, but these are still interesting. This is perhaps the most valuable section, providing details that would otherwise be hard to work out yourself. It is also the largest section, taking up half of the entire book, with the other half split between British and American slang.

This sort of book often reveals little known aspects of the war. I had no idea that the Germans had dropped umbrellas covered with propaganda slogans over Britain, in one of the dafter attempts to undermine morale.

I'm not sure if it's been done deliberately, but one phrase I didn't find here was Snafu itself. Presumably it was covered in the earlier FUBAR, as army slang, but it would have been nice to see the title covered in the book.

The main value of this book is that it reveals some of the main concerns of the fighting men on both sides. Many of these confirm impressions I've gained elsewhere, such as 'Halsschmerzen', or 'sore throat', used for officers said to be desperate to win the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, glory hunters uninterested in the lives of their fellow pilots. There are also plenty of German terms for inexperienced, under-trained replacements, a sign of the pressures that eventually broke the German armed forces towards the end of the war. 

Part I - American Slang
US Navy
US Aviation Services
US Army and Marine Corps

Part II - British Slang
Royal Navy
Royal Air Force
British Army

Part III - German Slang

1 - Crew Nicknames for Ships
2 - US Navy Ship Types
3 - US Aircraft Official Names
4 - Commonwealth Official Aircraft Names
5 - Aircraft Class and Manufactures' Codes

Author: Gordon L. Rottman
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 296
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2013

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