AA anti-aircraft
AA & QMG, ‘A & Q’ Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster-General

wells or cisterns (pl. of bir)

Abteilung (German) unit (reconnaissance troops, etc.); battery (of field or medium guns)
Ack Acknowledge
ACROBAT Code-name for planned continuation of CRUSADER to capture Tripolitania
ACs armoured cars
ACV Armoured Command Vehicle
ADC aide-de-camp
Adm, Admin Administration
ADS Advanced Dressing Station (forward medical establishment usually situated behind RAPs of fighting units)
adv advance(d)
A Echelon Transport usually taken into battle
AFC Air Force Cross
AFV Armoured Fighting Vehicle (tank or armoured car)
AG Adjutant-General
AIF Australian Imperial Force
Ain spring
Air Fleet

Major Italian air formation (= Luftflotte)

Air Support Control Combined Army-RAF organisation to bring air support to bear on ground operations
ALG Advanced Landing Ground
amn, ammn ammunition
AOC-in-C Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief
AP armour-piercing
armd armoured
armoured brigade formation of fast cruiser tanks, etc.
army tank brigade formation of slow infantry tanks, etc.
arty artillery
ASC Army Service Corps
A tk, A Tk, a-tk, A T anti-tank
Aust Australian
BARBAROSSA Code-name for German invasion of Russia, starting 22 June 1941
BATTLEAXE British offensive of 15–17 June 1941 on the Egyptian-Libyan frontier
Bde Brigade (British or Allied formation, normally three tank or infantry battalions)


Brigade (unusual German formation of two Regimente, the latter the equivalent of brigades)

B Ech(elon) Transport sometimes temporarily dispensed with in battle
Bel Belgian
Bersaglieri Italian motorised infantry, organised in regiments each of two or three battalions
BGS Brigadier, General Staff (chief staff officer at Corps or Army)
binary (division) two-brigade (rather than three-)

well or cistern (pl. Abiar)

bivvy bivouac tent; or small makeshift shelter in lieu of same
Blenheim British twin-engined bomber
blower radio-telephone
BM Brigade Major (chief staff officer at Brigade)
Bn Battalion (a unit of tanks or reconnaissance troops, normally three squadrons plus HQ; or infantry, four rifle companies plus HQ company; or machine-gunners, four companies of Vickers guns)

Battalion (German unit of tanks, anti-tank or anti-aircraft guns, engineers, infantry, machine-gunners, or motor-cyclists) (Italian organisation was similar)

Bofors Automatic 40-millimetre light anti-aircraft gun of Swedish design
Box All-round defensive position for battalion, brigade or division in static operations
BRA Brigadier, Royal Artillery (Corps or Army)
Breda Italian heavy machine-gun or light automatic cannon
Bren standard British light machine-gun
Bren-carrier light armoured tracked vehicle intended to carry same, but also used for reconnaissance, carrying ammunition or wounded under fire, etc.
BREVITY Code-name for British offensive at Libyan-Egyptian frontier and Tobruk at end of May 1941
BTE British Troops in Egypt (command excluding Western Desert Force, later Eighth Army)
Bty battery (two, three or four troops of guns)
call sign code identification of sender or intended recipient of R/T or W/T signal
carrier see Bren-
Cav Cavalry (light tanks, armoured cars, carriers)
CB Companion of the Order of the Bath; counter-battery (fire), locating and silencing of hostile guns
CBE Commander of the Order of the British Empire
CBO Counter-battery officer
CCS Casualty Clearing Station (large medical establishment situated between MDS and field hospital)
Cdr Commander
CE Chief Engineer (Corps or Army)
CGS Chief of the General Staff
CIGS Chief of the Imperial General Staff
CIH Central India Horse (cavalry unit of 4 Indian Division)
C-in-C Commander-in-Chief
CLY County of London Yeomanry
CO Commanding Officer (usually of a unit)
Col Colonel; Column (of troops or transport)
Coln Column
Comando Supremo

Italian Supreme Command (counterpart of OKW)

Comd Commander; Commanding
comn, commn communication(s)
conc concentration (of troops, equipment, fire)
coy, company (own) sub-unit of engineers, infantry or ASC troops (in infantry, three platoons; in others three or four sections)
(enemy) sub-unit of tanks (=squadron), anti-tank or anti-aircraft guns, engineers, signals, infantry, service, or medical troops
CRA Commander, Royal Artillery (of division)
CRASC Commander, Royal Army Service Corps (of division – later in NZ Division called CNZASC
CRE Commander, Royal Engineers (of division)
CRUSADER Code-name for British offensive resulting in relief of Tobruk
Crusader British Cruiser tank Mark VI, the latest model in CRUSADER
Cs Cars
CSM Company Sergeant-Major
D1 Opening day of CRUSADER

Deutsches Afrikakorps (German Africa Corps, commanded by Lt-Gen Crüwell)

DAQMG Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General
DCM Distinguished Conduct Medal
DEOR Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Rifles (South African)
det(s) detachment(s)
DFC Distinguished Flying Cross
Div, Division formation above brigade or Regiment, below corps
Div Arty Divisional Artillery (Headquarters, often HQ NZA)
Div Workshops Ordnance unit for maintaining guns, vehicles and other equipment
DLI Durham Light Infantry
DR despatch rider (usually motor-cyclist)
DSO Distinguished Service Order
Dudaforce The half of 19 Bn left at Ed Duda
Ech, Echelon First, Second, Third, three main contingents of 2 NZEF in order of embarkation, chiefly comprising 4, 5 and 6 Brigades respectively (see also A Echelon, B Echelon)
ED Efficiency Decoration
El the (in place-names, elided with certain consonants – en-Nbeidat, Ed-Duda, ez-Zemla, etc.)
Engr(s) Engineer(s)
en portée (of 2-pdr gun) carried on special lorry, ready to fire
FAA Fleet Air Arm
FAD Field Ammunition Depot
fd field
Fd Amb Field Ambulance (medical unit)
Fd Coy Field Company (of engineers)
FDL(s) Forward defended locality (localities) (the front was seldom a line, usually a series of FDLs)
Fd Pk Coy Field Park Company (of engineers)
Fd Regt Field Regiment (unit of artillery)
Feldzug campaign
FFC 36 Plan 36 of the Field Force Committee, War Office
Fieseler Storch German army co-operation light aircraft
Fifth Column(ist) Subversive group working for Axis powers (member of same)
Fliegerführer Afrika German Air Commander, North Africa
FMC Field Maintenance Centre (included FAD, FSD, etc.)
FOO Forward Observation Officer (field or medium artillery)
formation any grouping higher than unit
FSD Forward Supply Depot
Fwd Base Forward Base (main supply and maintenance area and organisation, usually at Railhead)
fwd(def) forward (defence; defensive)
G50 Fiat fighter aircraft
Gabr tomb
Gasr fort; hill resembling same
G Branch (Office) Staff of division or higher formation or command dealing with operations
GCMG Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George
Gds Guards
Gen Tpt Coy General Transport Company, RASC
GHQ General Headquarters
Gk Greek
GOC (-in-C) General Officer Commanding (-in-Chief)
Gp, Group (Battalion or Brigade) force of all arms; (RAF) major formation, above Wing
GPO Gun Position Officer (field or medium artillery)
Grid (line) Numbered map ruling, part of pattern usually of one or ten kilometre squares; on artillery boards the grid (of any convenient size) would be corrected if possible by survey and own and enemy gun positions, OPs, etc., marked in
GSO (I, II, III) General Staff Officer (Class 1, 2, 3)
H Hussars; heavy
HAA Heavy anti-aircraft
Hagfet unroofed cistern
Half-track Vehicle with wheels in front, tank-like tracks in rear
HE high explosive
HMG heavy machine-gun
Honey nickname for General Stuart tank (American M3)
HQ headquarters
hy heavy
I, Int Intelligence (of enemy)
2 i/c Second-in-command
incl inclusive; including
Ind Indian
inf infantry
I, Infantry tank heavily-armoured slow tank, either Mark II (Matilda) or Mark III (Valentine)
IO Intelligence Officer
Iti Italian
Jock Column usually a field battery, two infantry companies, anti-tank troop, etc., on an independent mission (after Brig ‘Jock’ Campbell)
KBE Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
KCB Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
KDG King’s Dragoon Guards (a reconnaissance unit)
Kessel cauldron; basin-like hollow in ground
kilo, km kilometre
1KRRC 1 Battalion, The King’s Royal Rifle Corps (the ‘60th Rifles’)
LAA light anti-aircraft
laager defensive disposition of unit or formation halted in mobile operations, open order by day and close order by night (often spelt ‘leaguer’, though pronounced ‘laager’)
LAD Light Aid Detachment (Ordnance establishment for repairing guns, transport, etc., within brigade or unit)
leaguer encampment of troops besieging fortress; by analogy, laager
line (transport), 1st unit
2nd divisional (carrying between FMC and division)
3rd rear (carrying between railhead and FMC)
LMG light machine-gun
LO Liaison Officer
LOB Left out of battle
L of C Line(s) of communication
LRDG Long Range Desert Group
LRS Light Recovery Section (of armoured formation, for repairing or salvaging tanks)
Lt Lieutenant; light
2 Lt Second-Lieutenant

German Air Fleet, largest formation of Luftwaffe

Luftwaffe German Air Force
M medium
M 13 chief Italian medium tank

cistern (= bir)

mantle (gun-) part of tank turret immediately protecting gun
Mark (I, II, etc.)

designation of production type, especially of tanks (in German documents, ‘Mark II’ = Matilda tank; British documents refer to Pzkw II, III, IV – q.v. – as Mark II, III, IV; see also ‘Crusader’, ‘I tank’; the Mark VIB was the standard British light tank)

Maryland twin-engined bomber (American)
Matilda See ‘I tank’
MBE Member of the Order of the British Empire
MC Military Cross; motor-cycle
MDS Medical Dressing Station (divisional medical establishment usually situated between ADS and CCS)
ME(F) Middle East (Forces)
Me.109F high-flying single-engined Messerschmitt (German) fighter
Me.110 twin-engined long-range fighter or fighter bomber
Med Medium
MET mechanised enemy transport (i.e., enemy vehicles)
(M)MG (Medium) machine-gun
M.H.s armoured cars fitted with Marmon-Herrington four-wheel-drive
m.i.d. Mentioned in Despatches
m.i.h. miles in the hour (a rate allowing for halts)
MM Military Medal
MO Medical Officer
Mot motorised
m.p.g. miles per gallon
m.p.h. miles per hour (actual rate)
MT mechanised transport
mtd motorised
Mtd Mounted
NAAFI Navy, Army, Air Force Institute(s)
NCO n.c.o. non-commissioned officer
NZA New Zealand Artillery
NZE New Zealand Engineers
NZEF New Zealand Expeditionary Force
NZOC New Zealand Ordnance Corps
Oases Group British force based on Jarabub, Force E of which captured Jalo, etc.
Oasis Coy

Specially trained and equipped German company of positional infantry, one of five grouped under an independent headquarters, z.b.V. Bn 300

OBE Officer of the Order of the British Empire
OC Officer Commanding (squadron, battery, company)
offrs, Os officers

Oberkommando des Heeres (High Command of the German Army)


Oberkommando der Webrmacht (Supreme Command of the German Armed Forces, roughly equivalent to the War Office)

OP Observation Post
Ops Operations; staff branch dealing with same
Ord (Fd Pk) Ordanance (Field Park – unit for supplying and maintaining equipment issued through Ordnance)
ORs other ranks (not officers)
PA Personal Assistant (to GOC)

Panzergruppe Afrika, Pz Gp Africa

Panzer Group Africa (commanded by Gen Rommel)
pl platoon
POL Petrol, oil and lubricants

see en portée

posn position
pr, pdr pounder
Point Pt Height marked on map, usually in metres above sea level
PU pick-up (truck)
PW, p.w. prisoner(s) of war

Pz, Panzer

German tank; armoured (unit or formation)

Pzkw (II, III, IV)

Panzerkraftwagen (German tank) (Mark II, III, IV) (see ‘Mark’)

Q Quartermaster; (broadly) administration
QM(G) Quartermaster(-General)
quad lorry for towing British field gun or anti-tank 18-pdr
RA Royal Artillery
RAAF Royal Australian Air Force
RAC Royal Armoured Corps
RAP Regimental Aid Post (unit medical establishment)
RASC Royal Army Service Corps
RE Royal Engineers

short title of reconnaissance group of Corpo d’armata di Manovra (CAM), the Italian Mobile Corps (more strictly Corps of Manoeuvre)

recce reconnaissance; reconnoitre
Regem cairn or similar natural feature
Regt Regiment (unit of tanks, reconnaissance troops, or artillery; in British Army also groups of tank, artillery or infantry units, e.g., RTR, RHA, Black Watch)

Regiment (enemy) (formation of armoured troops or infantry, roughly equivalent to ‘brigade’; also unit of field or medium artillery)

Reichsmarschall German rank above Field Marshal, exclusive to Goering
Reinforcements (4th, 5th, etc.) Successive contingents of 2 NZEF after Third Echelon
Repat Repatriation
rept, rpt repeat (message)
Res reserve
RFC Royal Flying Corps
RGH Royal Gloucestershire Hussars
RHA Royal Horse Artillery (motorised, usually supporting armoured troops)
RHQ Regimental Headquarters
RMO Regimental Medical Officer (of a unit)
RMT, Res MT Reserve Mechanical Transport (general carrier when not taking infantry into or out of action)
RNC Royal Natal Carbineers
RNZA Royal New Zealand Artillery (Regular Force only)
Royals The Royal Dragoons (reconnaissance unit)
r.p.g. rounds per gun (expenditure of ammunition)
RSM Regimental Sergeant-Major (senior NCO of unit)
R/T radio-telephony (wireless transmission of speech)
RTR, R Tks Royal Tank Regiment, Royal Tanks (part of RAC)
Rugbet watercourse
Ry Op Coy Railway Operating Company
SA South African(s); small arms
SAAF South African Air Force
sangar rocks piled up for protection in lieu of slit trench where ground was too hard to dig
SC Staff Captain (administrative staff officer at Brigade)
sec section (2–3 guns; detachment of Signals; third of infantry platoon; third of ASC company, etc.)
Serb Serbian
shd should
Sidi saint or marabout
Sigs Signals (responsible for R/T, W/T, DR, telephone and other communications)
sitrep situation report
slit trench one- or two-man trench for fire position or protection
SOMMERNACHTSTRAUM Code-name for German reconnaissance-in-strength into Egypt, 14–16 September 1941

self-propelled (of guns; usually portées); Starting Point

spandau nickname for standard German light and medium MG
sqn squadron (of tanks, reconnaissance troops, or aircraft)
ST Starting Time
Stuart (General) American M3 light cruiser tank
Stuka Junkers 87 dive-bomber
Svy Survey
Tac/R (aerial) Tactical Reconnaissance
TAF Tactical Air Force
tentacle wireless detachment, usually of Air Support Control
TIGER Code-name for naval and air operation to pass shipments of tanks and aircraft through Mediterranean to Malta and Egypt early in May 1941
Tk tank
Tommy gun Thompson sub-machine-gun
TOTENSONNTAG lit. Sunday of the Dead, equivalent on the Lutheran calendar to All Souls Day
tp(s) troop(s); part of squadron of tanks or reconnaissance troops (usually four tanks, armoured cars); part of battery (4–6 guns)
Trg Training
Trigh track
U-boat German submarine
UDF Union Defence Force (South Africa)
unit tank, reconnaissance or infantry battalion, artillery regiment, or equivalent grouping (usually in British Army commanded by lieutenant-colonel)
Valentine see ‘I tank’
VC Victoria Cross
VD Volunteer Officers’ Decoration
wadi watercourse
war establishment authorised full allotment (of men, weapons, etc.)
wastage reduction of manpower
WDF Western Desert Force
Wehrmacht German Armed Forces
Y & L, York & Lancs The York and Lancaster Regiment
Zaaforce The half of 19 Bn which returned to Zaafran

zur besonderen Verwendung (for special purposes – i.e., independent)