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There was a well-founded tradition in the Royal Navy and in Commonwealth warship s of using Biblical quotations as shorthand for

sending messages. Many pithy, witty or just plain snippy words to the wise were relayed via Biblic al quotes, which had the virtue of being concise, to the point, and suitable for a range of occasions and eventualities. References to quotations (i.e. 1 Corinthians 15-33)1 were used singly or as part of a longer message. Brevity was especially important during wartime. Most sign als sent at sea during World War II were conveyed using light or by radio. The s ender had to keep messages short, for the sake of efficiency and security. Even those unfamiliar with scripture were able to use this technique, thanks to a portable digest of Biblical chapter and verse known as a "vade mecum". Latin for go with me , vade mecum refers to a handbook that is carried on the perso n and consulted as required. Equipped with a copy of this handbook, even people who were not scholars of the Bible could borrow its verses to make a point or de liver a rebuke. In any case, some knowledge of the Bible was almost a given during the period wh en such handbooks were in use. Many schoolchildren received a good grounding in scriptural chapter and verse, whether they received this education at school, Su nday school, home, or all three. Thus the ship's Captain, signalmen, or personnel working on the bridge took adva ntage of Biblical writings to make a few short words go a very long way. It became almost a craze among senior escort officers in Britain's Royal Navy to embed Biblical references in their signals. Examples of such exchanges include the following: * From a submarine returning from war patrol to the flotilla Captain: o Psalm 17, verse 4 "Concerning the works of men by the word of thy li ps I have kept me from the path of the destroyers" * Reply to signal received by an officer, congratulating him on his promotio n: o Psalm 140, 2nd half of verse "They have set gins& for me" Situations when Bible quotes were used were many and varied. These occasions mig ht include: * When a ship collided with the jetty while docking: o Proverbs 22-28 "Remove not the ancient landmark which thy fathers ha ve set" * When a ship was not keeping proper station , station being the location to wh ich a ship or fleet is assigned for duty: o Psalm 77-19 "Thy way is in the sea and thy path in the great waters and thy footsteps are not known" o Proverbs 4-26 "Ponder the path of thy feet and let all thy ways be e stablished" * To reprimand someone who hadn't followed instructions properly, or disobey ed them entirely: o Job 31-11 "For this is a heinous crime, yea it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges" o Proverbs 8-33 "Hear instruction and be wise and refuse it not" * To request a report on a particular action or event: o Revelations 1-19 "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the thi ngs which are and the things which shall be hereafter" * To give direction:

o Deuteronomy 2-3 "Ye have compassed this mountain long enough, turn y e northward" * To chide someone who was overly concerned with promoting his own career or prospects: o Psalm 75-6 "For promotion cometh neither from the east nor from the west not from the south" * When one ship said goodbye to another ship: o Acts 21-6 "And when we had taken our leave of one another, we took s hip, and they returned home again" The content of such Biblically-based messages was often light-hearted, but it co uld also be serious: * In the case of a victory at sea: o Psalm 18-37 "I have pursued mine enemies and overtaken them, neither did I turn again until they were consumed" * By way of a warning against rebellious behaviour by crew members: o Philippians 3-14 "Do all things without murmurings and disputings" Whether the intention was to praise, rebuke, or simply to entertain and enlighte n, the practice of using Biblical quotations for messaging and signalling was a clever way of getting complex ideas across in a succinct fashion.