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Glossary of the First World War - B

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BAB / Bab Code: British codebook from 1916 used for telephone communications.
BAC: Brigade Ammunition Column
Bak: Short version of Ballonabwehrkanonen, German guns altered for use in an anti-aircraft role.
Balance of Power: A concept favoured by the British which held that peace in Europe was maintained by a balance in the relative strength of the five 'Great Powers': Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia.
Balfour Decleration: A letter dated November 2nd 1917 from the British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild (also English) giving British support to the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
bandes mollestiéres : French puttees.
Bangalore Torpedo: Explosive tube/pipe used to blast a way through barbed wire.
banjo: ANZAC nickname for a spade.
Bantam: British/Imperial term for men from battalions of short soldiers – all between 5 foot 1 inch and 5 foot 4 inch - created when supplies of taller men were exhausted.
Barchini Saltatori : The 'Jumping Boats' were four light craft designed by the Italian Navy in 1918 for attacks on Austrian naval bases. The boats had caterpillar chains similar to a tank so they could scale defensive booms; all their attacks failed.
Barjaktar / Bairaktar: Montenegrin standard bearer.
Barker: Slang for both pistols and sausages, the latter because some soldiers suggested dog meat was involved…
Barrage: artillery bombardment.
Bashlyk : Russian hood worn in winter over both the greatcoat and cap.
Battle-Bag: Nickname for an airship.
Battle Bowler: British slang for their steel helmets.
Battle Order: British term for a set of infantry equipment reduced to the essentials to allow for speed and movement on the attack; the pack was replaced with a haversack.
Battle Police: The military police operating behind an attack to prevent dereliction of duty.
Battle Surplus: A battalion's reserve of officers and men who hung back during an attack; there were enough to operate as an effective unit if the main attack was wiped out. Also known as First Reinforcement or a Cadre.
Battlecruiser: Hybrid craft combing the speed of the Cruiser class ships with the firepower (but not the armour) of a battleship, originally created by the British but adopted by Japan and Germany.
Battleship: The strongest ships available to any nation during the war, battleships were heavily armed and armoured vessels often described as 'mobile fortresses'.
Bayonet: A blade which is attached to the end of a firearm for close quarter fighting; used by all nations.
Bayonet Frog: The device used to attach a bayonet's sheath/scabbard to a belt.
Bayru: Name of a Bavarian aircraft maker.
BD: 'B-Department', the German Ministry of War.
BE-2: Series of British two-seater reconnaissance/light bombing bi-planes which began the war as the British standard craft.
BE-8: British two-seater reconnaissance bi-plane which saw limited service in 1914-15.
BE-12: Series of British single seat fighter-bombers introduced in 1916.
Beardsmore WB-III: A type of Sopwith 'Pup' plane with folding wings for use on aircraft carriers.
BEB: 'Brigade Ersatz Bataillone', German battalion created from a brigade's ersatz reserve units.
BEF: 'British Expeditionary Force', the British Army operating on the Western Front. The BEF included Royal Flying Corps units until April 1918.
Belly: The act of a tank grounding itself upon an obstacle, leaving the tracks with no purchase.
Belted: A naval term referring to ships which armour around their hulls like a belt.
Bergmann Guns: Either the Bergman 7.92mm Machine Gun (used by Germany after 1915 as a supplement to its Maxim copy) or the Bergman MP 18/1, a Maschinenpistole (machine pistol) with a thirty-two round clip, the only true submachine gun of the war.
Berlin Act: An agreement signed in 1885 by Belgium, Britain, France and Germany to create a neutral zone in Africa in the event of war. The zone included three German colonies and was entirely ignored by the Allies once war began.
Berm: A ledge in a trench used for storing ammunition or equipment.
Bersaglieri : Italian rifle corps.
Béton armé : Steel-reinforced, armoured or ferro-concrete used by the French.
BF: Bergführer: Austrian mountain guide.
BFW: Bayerische Flug zeugwerke, a German aircraft manufacturer.
BGGS: Brigadier-General, General Staff.
BGRA: Brigadier General, Royal Artillery.
BGRE: Brigadier-General, Royal Engineers.
BH: Austro-Hungarian term for their Bosnian-Herzegovinian infantry.
BHJ: Austro-Hungarian term for their Bosnian-Herzegovinian Jägers.
Biff: Slang for a Bristol fighter plane.
Big Bertha: Nickname for the Krupp 420mm heavy howitzer, a huge mobile siege gun designed to smash fortifications. Used by the German army from 1914.Also slang for any German heavy artillery.
Bill Harris: Nickname for the flatworm bilharzias often found in the Middle East.
Billjim: Slang for Australian soldiers, used by Australians.
Billy: ANZAC nickname for a cooking pot/can.
Biribi: French penal battalion in Algeria.
Bivvy: Short version of bivouac, used to refer either to stopping for the night or to any temporary shelter.
Blackburn Kangeroo: British bomber plane used by one coastal patrol squadron in 1918.
Black Flight: A famous fighter squadron of the RNAS who planes with black markings and names: Black Prince, Black Death, Black Maria, Black Sheep and Black Roger. They shot down 87 enemies without lost.
Black Hand: Secret/terrorist organisation formed in 1911 to 'promote' the cause of a greater Serbia. Also known as Unity or Death, the Black Hand had close links to the Serbian government and trained Gavrilo Princip, killer of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
Black Hand Gang: A raiding party.
Black Maria: Slang for the explosion of a German shell (because of the black smoke). Also a noted member of the Black Flight.
Blanco: A whitening agent for kit and slang for certain parts of the kit. Also slang for anyone named White.

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