OLD ARMY TERMINOLOGY
Author, Peter B. Kyne makes mention in his book, Soldiers, Sailors and Dogs, New York: H.C. Kinsey & Co., 1936 of what appears to be a number of expressions that probably originated during the Spanish/American War and which might have survived until the early part of American involvement in World War I. Kyne evidently had some military experience or knowledge thereof. In his book, some of the fictional stories occur in America and in France during the World War. Kyne uses such expressions as:
“Bluebird”—evidently a reference to someone who left the service for a period of time and then re-enlisted in the army. The connotation could be made here with the homing instinct of a bluebird, which returns to the same nest year after year.
“Bob” –a dishonorable discharge from the service. To receive a “bob” or to be “bobbed” was to get a dishonorable discharge.
In Paul Dickson’s book, War Slang…we read: “bobtailed. Dishonorably discharged; from the practice of removing (“bobbing”) the portion of discharge papers that confers honor. Dickson, Paul. War Slang…Pocket Books, 1994, page 44.
“Soldier up to the handle” was to be an exemplary soldier. To “the handle” of what?
“Fogie”—a service stripe.
Are these all Spanish-American war army expressions and did any of them survive until World War I? Although author Kyne uses these expressions in the context of Spanish-American War veterans serving in the U.S. Army during World War I, I have never seen these terms used in any other American World War I writings.
Kyne, Peter B. THEY ALSO SERVE. Cosmopolitan, 1927.
___________. SOLDIERS, SAILORS and DOGS. NY: H. C. Kinsey & Co., 1936.
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