Posted by Lewis on January 14, 2005
In Reply to: Hmmmm posted by Li Yar on January 14, 2005
: : : : : During one of his War Walks Television Programmes Prof Richard Holmes reported on an early WW1 battle. during this programme he claimed that this battle was where the use of the whole nine yards was started. I am not sure as to the exact programme but there was only one on WW1 in the series. I do not think as a proffessor he would quote this as a source if he were not sure.
: : : : Check our archives for lots of other "he said" "I heard" and other third-party "foaf" theories. We'd really perfer evidence.
: : : After a little googling, it turns out that Prof. Holmes has written a book about his war walks around some of Europe's battlefields. There were actually two WW1 battles referred to in his six-part BBC series (originally aired in 1992) namely Mons & Le Cateau at the start of the war, and the Somme in 1916. I didn't see any of the series, nor have read the book, but it'd be interesting to track down a copy to see if the good prof mentions the W9Y in any way.
: : which battle was fought with kilts or cement mixers?
: just to be annoying...
: but has anybody actually checked the ammo-belt length for WW1 aircraft?
: My recollection is that the ammo reservoir on BAAC planes was a magazine, but I will go and check.
I have done some research - and after trawling through historic aircraft sites, eventually ended up on a site devoted to Vickers machine guns - which along with Lewis guns, were the main armament of allied aircraft in WWI and beyond. The SE5a did have a lewis gun with a drum mount eventually, due to problems with the vickers belt feed. the ammo was 250 rounds, which is not 9 yards, but I have asked these experts who actually own these historic guns and operate them - to check the length of the belts to see if any machine gun had a 9 yard feed.
after doing so - I found that somebody had raised the W9Y issue before - and been told that it did not coincide with regular ammo belts. however - I looked into it and in WWII the Mustang P51 came into RAF service prior to the Americans using it themselves and the P51 came in several modifications - one of which invoved 350 round belts (on the inner guns - the outside had 270 round feeds) which I am told IS 9 yards.
the ammo itself is .50 cal Browning if anybody knows an expert on ammo.
the suggestion is that the expression did not become used until the Korean war and having read interviews with ground-crew concerning the ammo belts (yes - I am that thorough) no mention of "the whole nine yards" was mentioned by WWII personnel - not to say it could not have been said, but that it wasn't mentioned in the material I read.
somebody also said that it was US naval aircrew using the Mustang - which would presumably have been the P51D or beyond, if anybody wants to continue my research.
If anybody can find more detail, I would be interested - but for the moment, my money would be on P51 aircrew in the Korean war as first documented originators.