The text of this published glossary of code words was prepared shortly after the close of World War II. It is presented here exactly as in the original, except that ninteteen words which originally appeared in an addenda page have been integrated in the main text of the document.
TORCH, BACKBITER, OVERLORD, CROSSROADS soon will have dropped their capitals and again become just ordinary words in the English language. But to the men of the present generation, these and many other words connote far more than their definitions by Webster. To them, TORCH will always be vast numbers of ships and men converging on the West and North African shores; BACKBITER will be a tiny point in the Pacific; OVERLORD will be an armada ploughing through the choppy Channel waters on a June night in 1944; CROSSROADS will be the greatest scientific experiment of all time.
The recollections stirred by the sight or sound of these words belong to the men who were actually there, but the operations and geographical locations are a part of history. As such the historian must be able to translate these terms, so, for that reason, this glossary of operational and geographical code words has been compiled. Without it, no one, not even a cryptographer, can read the primary sources of World War II intelligibly. There was no reason why DUCKPIN identified General Eisenhower, nor why ZOOTSUIT referred to Auk, New Britain, nor why OPIUM was the transfer of a Marine regiment to Samoa. Someone picked these words out of a dictionary and someone in a higher echelon applied them to a particular person, place, or action.
The following list is not complete. No doubt there are many other code words which the Navy used but which could not be found; others could not be included because they are still classified. The list is primarily Navy; Army and British code words have been added insofar as they are of interest to the Navy.
Like the previously published Glossary of U.S. Naval Abbreviations, this glossary was prepared in the Office of Naval History by Lt. Comdr. Dorothy E. Richard, W, USNR, under the supervision of the Historian for Naval Administration.
B.W.I. -- British West Indies
BB -- Battleship
C.A. -- Canal Zone
CBI -- China-Burma-India
CV -- Aircraft Carrier
G.B. -- Great Britain
HMS -- His Majesty's Ship (G.B.)
LCI -- Landing Craft Infantry
LF -- Landing Force
N.E.I. -- Netherlands East Indies
N.W.I. -- Netherlands West Indies
OSS -- Office of Strategic Services
P.I. -- Philippine Islands
RAF -- Royal Air Force (G.B.)
SOE -- Secret Operations Executive (G.B.)
T.H. -- Territory of Hawaii
TF -- Task Force
U.S. -- United States
U.S.S.R. -- Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
USA -- United States Army
USCG -- United States Coast Guard
USN -- United States Navy
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The Naval Historical Center gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Patrick Clancey in preparing this document for posting on our website.
9 February 1999