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Some were even clearly marked in Cyrillic ‘Water tanks for Russia’.The ruse certainly worked, because their first use on the Somme on 15 September 1916 was a complete surprise to the Germans.Above all else, the one emotion that helped them keep their sense of perspective and enabled them to endure the bad times was their uniquely British sense of humour, which appeared in even the grimmest situations, and it was the funny stories that they most often regaled us with.Much of the humour was found in their widespread use of songs and slang.This was actually based on sound experience: it took a German sniper about five seconds at night to see, aim and fire at a light source, and a flaring match was clearly visible on a dark night from well over 500 yards.Five seconds was also about the time it took for the third man to light up.Here, writing for , Pegler details 10 words and phrases circulated during the war that still remain in use today: The subject of the First World War evokes many images, many of which are used repeatedly nowadays in film and TV, but they tend to concentrate on the drama and the misery of war.The reality was that it didn’t rain every day, the trenches were not knee deep in mud all year round, and soldiers were not subjected to shelling and death every day of their lives.
The now almost universal word for a bottle of wine.
Body lice were endemic in the trenches, and they inhabited the seams and pleats of clothing where they bred in huge numbers, causing skin rashes and itching.
The expression is often ascribed to the Hindi word for a parasite, ‘chatt’, but is more possibly from an earlier medieval English word for idle gossip, ‘chateren’.
The first modern armoured fighting vehicles were produced in great secrecy by Fosters of Lincoln.
To prevent any hint of their purpose being discovered by German spies, workers were told they were mobile water tanks.