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Remembered Today:

The term "Whizz Bang" was it only used by Kiwis & Aussi


Tony Ring
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Pals

I have been reading several books on WW1 concerning actions involving New Zealand & Australian troops. The term "Whizz Bang" appears in them and I am guessing it describes German ? artillery shells heading your way. Is this correct ??

Was this expression a universal one and also used by British Troops or only restricted to Anzacs.

Just curious.

Tony

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Found this quote on the forum, but can't see who said it...

Although the term was used widely by Allied (most often British and Commonwealth) servicemen to describe any form of German field artillery shells, the 'whizz bang' was originally attributed to the noise made by shells from German 77mm field guns. In all cases however the name was derived from the fact that shells fired from light or field artillery travelled faster than the speed of sound.

Thus soldiers heard the typical "whizz" noise of a travelling shell before the "bang" issued by the gun itself. Whizz bangs consequently much feared since the net result was that defending infantrymen were given virtually no warning of incoming high-velocity artillery fire as they were from enemy howitzers.

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Seconding IPT, I also read years ago (in more than one book) that "whiz bang" originally referred to the incoming shells from

German 77 mm. field guns for the reason described. The term was in common use by the AEF, as well, not exclusively British

and Commonwealth servicemen.

Regards

Trelawney

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My father-in-law, a German, also knew of the term whiz bang. He remembered his father (a Great War German infantryman) mentioning it and also said it came from a 77mm.

Tony

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In all cases however the name was derived from the fact that shells fired from light or field artillery travelled faster than the speed of sound.

I'm struggling to understand this. (Nothing new there then :rolleyes: )

Surely, if a shell is travelling faster than the speed of sound then you would hear the bang of the exploding shell first and then the sound it made when travelling.

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The bang referred to the explosion of the shell rather than the sound of the gun hence gas shells and duds fired from the same gun had a different name as they made a different sound on arrival. This suggests that they were traveling slower than sound at least at the end of their flight

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In my reading it was widely used by all British and Commonwealth forces. Whizz bangs (high velocity rounds) being contrasted with Jack Johnson's - that were heavier (15cm rounds) which created black clouds of smoke.

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In my reading it was widely used by all British and Commonwealth forces. Whizz bangs (high velocity rounds) being contrasted with Jack Johnson's - that were heavier (15cm rounds) which created black clouds of smoke.

Almost any shell producing black smoke was a Jack Johnson or a Coal Box. Gas shells were Pip Squeeks

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I have at least one English infantry battalion war diary which refers to Whiz (sic) Bang in an operation order.

Cheers,

Nigel

There is also the WW1 soldier's song "Hush here comes a whizz bang" and the one beginning "Far far from wipers I long to be, where German snipers can't get at me" ending with with the line "waiting for whizz bangs to send me to sleep" neither of these are ANZAC in origin

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Does anyone know when the earliest (recorded) reference to Whizz bang is?

I am absolutely sure that others will have earlier dates - a quick look shows it in use in October 1915. (Lt Andrews, 7th Somersets)

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Does anyone know when the earliest (recorded) reference to Whizz bang is?

I am absolutely sure that others will have earlier dates - a quick look shows it in use in October 1915. (Lt Andrews, 7th Somersets)

Thank you one & all. Unable to claim the term as an Anzac one.

I think there is an expression - "you do not hear the one that hits you" - But then if you are dead how can you know this !!!

As an aside - Currently we have a tidal wave racing towards us after an 8.3 Earthquake in the Pacific. Happy days.

Tony

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Yes Tony

I've read many accounts/ books of the war and the term was in general usage by British and Commonwealth forces from the start of the war i.e. as soon as they faced the 77mm cannon. The expression has a very 'music hall' feel about it so I expect the origin was British - possible London based troops (sticking neck out with that guess!).

John

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the 'whizz bang' was originally attributed to the noise made by shells from German 77mm field guns.

Thus soldiers heard the typical "whizz" noise of a travelling shell before the "bang" issued by the gun itself.

...............and so onomatopoeia was born...................!!! :P

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...............and so onomatopoeia was born...................!!! :P

And they all lived happily ever after.

Thank you.

Tony

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There was clearly a need for soldiers' expressions to describe this type of shell. The Germans had umpteen slang terms for the various types of shell or mortar bomb. The most common whizz-bang equivalent is Ratsch-Bumm, equally onamatapoeic. I suspect that there must be French, Italian, Turkish and Russian equivalents too but, alas, I do not know them.

Jack

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