Why do militaries put words in an odd order?

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Russell Phillips, Feb 22, 2021.

  1. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Why do the Americans write the date in a different order? Did the Twin Towers come down on 9th of November?

    Military equipment designations are - as others have already written - based on ease of cataloging stores. What is "it" followed by descriptions of what sort of "it" it is. When you think about it properly, it makes alot of sense.

    What is it or what do you want? An armoured vehicle.
    What type of armoured vehicle is it / do you want? An RE one.

    As opposed to...

    What is it or what do you want? A Royal Engineer
    What type of Royal Engineer is it / do you want? An armoured vehicle one.
  2. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Dates are a good one. I use a simple convention in my digital filing system of Year/month/day because then, even if you sort in name order, all the files appear in date order. It can be surprisingly useful. Today's date is 20210223
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021
  3. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member


    You want files in date order on your HD.

    Which of these two will list them in date order: 31_8_2019 or 2019_8_31

    It makes common sense to go with year_month_day.

    But that does not mean everybody has to go around speaking to each other along the lines of:
    When did you last go on holiday?
    Oh, that was in 2019 August 31st.

    There is absolute logic in cataloging: "jacket, foul weather, size medium".

    There is nothing compelling anybody to have a conversation using that order of words.
    SDP likes this.
  4. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I thought that was a rural doorbell ?

    Mouse Trap.jpg
    ltdan, Tricky Dicky and Harry Ree like this.
  5. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I think the year/month/day is fine for filling of documents and pictures etc, but I remember from my primary school days when the format was day/month and year. It has stuck with me for written correspondence ever since.

    It can be an aid to remembering happenings on certain dates Identity of self as regards date of birth to such as medical practitioners... easily done to reel off numerically.. day, month and last two of the year.
    SDP likes this.
  6. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    As an American British military nomenclature has always seemed odd to me and full of anomalies, but the RA does indeed seem to have gone even further in this direction. The Northumberland Hussars were supposed to be the 102nd Anti-Tank Regiment, but they seem to have ignored this designation completely.
    Don Juan likes this.
  7. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    The British Army does particularly seem to have prided itself in the use of archaic terminology. Wartime parts lists are referred to as 'V.A.O.S."...The Vocabulary of Army Ordnance Stores.
    Afbeelding (224).jpg Afbeelding (225).jpg Afbeelding (226).jpg Afbeelding (227).jpg Afbeelding (228).jpg Afbeelding (229).jpg
    It's all quite straightforward :)
  8. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    The system makes perfect sense from an administrative point of view, but sometimes leads to considerable irritation for ordinary mortals, e.g. when you need ordinary everyday objects and you find a standard hand brush as a "sweeper, hand, wood, with handle, for crews, basic".....
  9. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Language is how we communicate. But it can also be political or comedy. Sometimes both at the same time.

    Many years ago there was a country called Yugoslavia and the principle official language was Serbo-croatian.

    Then Yugoslavia broke up and each of the bits remaining decided to have their own languages. Slovenes speak Slovenian, Bosnians speak Bosnian, Serbs speak Serbian, Croats speak Croatian etc etc. But for the majority of the population, it was the same language as before but a different name.

    But that was not acceptable for some. Especially the Croats who wanted to be different. So they invented words and phrases that they thought sounded too Serbian.

    Eg. The Serbo-croat word for belt was kajš - which had its origin in Turkish. The Croats decided to outlaw the word kajš and the new word(s) for belt became okolotrbusni držac pantalona. Which translates as "around belly trouser holder".
    Aixman, Owen, Harry Ree and 2 others like this.
  10. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    There has long been a theory that the byzantine structure and traditions of the British Army were deliberately implemented to prevent it fomenting coups against its own Government.
    TTH likes this.
  11. Les Carter

    Les Carter Member

    My late father was a CQMS in Northamptonshire Regt. He had same sayings relative to stores. "Bombay Bloomers - Troops for the use of.' :D

    KFS - Knife, Fork and Spoon.

    Belt - Stable
  12. Les Carter

    Les Carter Member

    I remember as a young Army Apprentice Tradesman at AAS Chepstow, circa 1964 probably. We got our issue of the 'new boots.' So excited we were, to wit..'Boots DMS (Directly Moulded Sole.) :D We thought it was Christmas, getting rid of those studded boots left over from World War 2, well probably from World War 1.
    Chris C, TTH and Dave55 like this.
  13. idler

    idler GeneralList

    It's a bit unfair to blame the Gunners for the behaviour of their Yeomanry stepchildren.

    It's also understandable that there was regimental inertia when whole units were suddenly re-roled and converted to other arms: infantry to armour, infantry to AA artillery and searchlights, yeomanry to artillery, etc. The real unfortunates were the yeomanry converted to signals between the wars as their regiments were generally scattered as attachments to everyone else.

    The other factor is that Territorial and Yeomanry units generally appear to have maintained their local identity to a far greater degree than even regular units.
    Chris C likes this.
  14. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Well it helps to know that the British Army of the time was in a great sense a collection of regiments, with long histories and typically command of the regiment was determined by years of service within the regiment (if I remember correctly). In fact the RA went one further: up until the 1930s the BATTERY was the unit of primary focus.

    It is definitely quite a thing to have to wrap your head around.

    So anyway many units converted to artillery were very much attached to the identity of the regiment as they had joined it. I haven't looked at the Northumberland Hussars' war diary lately but pretty much every converted regiment I've looked at has been at pains to at least include their regimental name as part of their label.
    TTH likes this.
  15. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    Pre mechanical writing, dates were often written like a fraction - day, month over year. This allows a quick scan of the year if needed. Still used into 2WW by some old hands. Often seen on 'Sealed Patterns':
    Dave55 likes this.

Share This Page