Driven by desperation in the waning months of the Second World War – and motivated by a martial code, bushido, that glorified self-sacrifice and brooked no surrender – around 4,000 Japanese aircrew conducted suicide attacks against US and Allied warships in a vain attempt to halt the onslaught against Japan.
War of Words
Because of the unrelenting ferocity of trench warfare, the term has also come to mean a fierce, grinding contest of a non-military nature. ‘This … law was … struck down after years of expensive trench warfare in the courts,’ went one recent example.
After the war, flak would also come to mean very strong criticism or abuse.
The Spartans were well-known for their frugality, living simply with a minimum of comforts, and ‘spartan’ acquired the sense of extreme simplicity in lifestyle.
‘Zeppelin’ appeared in English that same year in Whitaker’s Almanack: ‘The Zeppelin Air-ship… is a cylindrical frame of aluminium in partitions, each holding a gas-bag.’
Ordinarily, a gunboat was a lesser craft, mounting just a few guns. They were particularly useful in shallow waters that larger warships could not navigate.
‘Waterloo’ – and especially variations of the phrase ‘to meet one’s Waterloo’ – have come to signify a firm, conclusive end to a person or a thing.
The Roman legions needed support. By the 1st century AD, the citizen legionaries of Rome, drawn primarily from Italy, were supplemented by many thousands of auxiliary ‘helper’ soldiers recruited from non-citizen peoples who possessed military skills the Romans lacked.
‘The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war,’ Churchill wrote, ‘was the U-boat peril.’
‘Legion’ derives from the Latin legio, which itself comes from the verb legere, meaning ‘to choose’ or ‘to levy’.