Navy birthday trivia



The history of the Navy, due to celebrate its 232nd birthday on Saturday, is chock full of legends, traditions, and lore. How well do you know your Navy trivia? Here are 13 questions to honor the Navy’s birthday on October 13th. Which of these are true, and which are false?

1. The ditty bag used to be called a “ditto bag” because there were two of everything in it.
2. The flaps on crackerjacks were designed to keep hair grease off the back of the uniform.
3. Navy logs are named for the timber from which the paper was created.
4. Boatswain’s Pipes originated in ancient galleys. One whistle meant “row.”
5. “Chits” are named after Hindu slips of paper used in lieu of silver and gold.
6. Uniform stars have “two points up”, instead of one (like you see in the flag) to symbolize the Navy’s defense of both coasts.
7. Broadside is a large sheet of paper.
8. “Cup of Joe” (coffee) comes from “the cup of Jonas.”
Jonas (image from wikipedia)

9. A tattoo of a pig on one leg of a sailor and a rooster on the other is a charm against drowning.
10. The term “sick bay” originated in ancient times, when hospital ships (called “immunes”) would accompany Caeser’s legions and were kept far from battle, normally in the calm waters of a bay.
11. The only time 12 bells is sounded is at midnight on the Navy’s Birthday and on New Year’s Eve.
12. S.O.S. stands for “Save Our Ship.”
13. The P in P-Coat stands for Pilot.


1. True 2. True 3. False 4. True 5. True (“citthi”) 6. False (the custom has no known origin) 7. True 8. False (named after Josephus Daniels – he’s the Secretary of the Navy who abolished alcohol on Navy ships in 1913.)
True 9. True 10. False (early hospital ships were called “immunes”, but the term “bay” comes from the round shape of ship sterns, resembling a bay.) 11. False (only on New Year’s Eve) 12. False (it doesn’t stand for anything) 13. True (Pilot cloth or P-cloth was the fabric from which they were made.)

Thanks to The Goat Locker, the Naval Historical Center, and Wikipedia. All facts were pulled from their sites. All incorrect facts were made up by me.


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  1. Wikipedia isn’t all ways the most reliable source.

    I always heard the P in P-Coat was for, the fog that was thick as Pea soup.

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