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Posted by Lewis on January 17, 2005

In Reply to: PFWNYF posted by Bruce Kahl on January 15, 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.

: : : : : : : LY

: : : : : : 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.

: : : : : : L

: : : : : I don't think so.
: : : : : We have no authhenicated text references as far back as Korea. Mid-'60s so far.

: : : : 1967, that is. See Gary's tidy little essay on the subject at meanings 411150.html

: : : "I don't think so" - sounds a little arrogant, methinks, in response to a summary of collated data made available for others to build their further enquiries upon. I simply presented the information and my *opinion* as to what the outcome might eventually be. I did not make any unqualified assertions, just gave some facts pertinent to one line of enquiry.

: : : In doing my research, I undermined and probably de-bunked 2 other theories, so think I deserve better than a condescending "I don't think so".

: : : I agree there is sometimes the problem that text does not convey tone, but perhaps the Guardian of Truth might like to read back some posts before making them.

: : : L

: : I'm sorry you took "I don't think so" in response to your "documented originators" as a personal attack, and the occasion for one.

: Bob is the keeper, treasurer and guardian of the PFWNYF, the Phase Finder Whole Nine Yards Fund, established at the end of the 20th Century to award a financial endowment to the first person to prove the existence of the aforementioned phrase.
: Rumor has it that the fund may be at or near five US dollars as a result of his dabblings in oil and gas leases, running ammo to Iraq and other dubious investments. He probably has been staring at all the spreadsheets as he is putting toghether his year end report.
: And you got him on a good day.

I do wish we could put this one to bed...

The Vickers people tell me that 250 rounds is way too short for any Vickers, whereas the B1 (Flying Fortress I think) may have had a belt nearer and (again) it was Browning ammo.

were it B1, then that would leave an option of WWII, before Korea, but it is strange that the expression does not appear more widely in more contemporary literature. the case for 'Nam may still be the strongest, but I am hoping that it does go back to nearer the 50s, as there is too little that came out of the Korean war compared to Vietnam.

I may have been over-sensitive in my reading of "I don't think so" only aurally it triggers a memory of somebody sounding scathing - as I said - problem with the atonality of text.

Qualified apologies if required.