Glossary of terms

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Anti-aircraft fire

All around the city were large guns (known as Ack-Ack guns because of the noise they made) which tried to shoot down German aircraft before they could reach their targets.

Assize Court

A court where Judges heard cases at regular intervals.


A word meaning a heavy air raid over a short time. It comes from the German word Blitzkrieg meaning ‘lightening war’.


Very heavy bombing.


A fast Navy escort ship used to protect the convoys.

Dog fight

A fight between aeroplanes in the air.

Dry Dock

A dock used for repairing ships. Using a lock, water could be drained out so that people repairing ships could work underneath the vessel. When the repairs were finished water could be let back into the dock and the ship could sail out.


A Royal Navy gun ship.


A building where grain is stored.


A small bomb which burst into flames when it hit the ground. Incendiaries were dangerous because they could be dropped in large quantities. They quickly set buildings alight. The light from the fires could be used by German bombers to find their targets.

Mass Observation Unit

A Government organisation. Millions of people were asked to record their thoughts and feelings about lots of different subjects so that the Government knew what the people of Britain felt about the war and other subjects.


A period in history beginning after the Saxons and finishing with the Tudors.

Merchant Navy

Ships that carry cargoes and passengers belong to the Merchant Navy. Warships are part of the Royal Navy.


The way people feel, for example, happy, confident, unhappy, frightened. It was important during the war to keep people feeling positive so that they could cope with all the problems war brought.

Phoney War

False war. When the war began people expected bombing raids straight away. This did not happen for at least six months and the period at the start of World War Two has become known as the Phoney War.


An extremely large and bright light that was directed at the sky to look for German bombers.


Random or irregular.


A group of about 12 aeroplanes, pilots and crew.

Telegraph (Telegram)

An electronic method of sending messages. Two machines were needed. One to send the message and another to receive it. The Post Office then delivered the message to the correct address. If a person in the armed services was missing in action or killed, a telegram was usually sent to their family letting them know.


A type of ‘bus’ which ran on rails and was powered by electricity.

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