I was always told it was a reference to squaddies coming off the front line unwashed for days or weeks.
"Where the wind blows the "PONGOes"
How true that is I don't know but was circa 1960 when I was told it.
PS Jack Speak states its a reference to a "pongo" a hairy african sand-ape found in North Africa, brown in colour who were rather smelly. As squaddies rarely wash in the field back to "Where the wind blows etc."
Pongo An Infantryman. Although commonly used in some units this term could hardly be regarded as universal.
General World War I. From 1919 (OED).
This was originally nautical slang (1917) for â€˜a marineâ€™, but is first attested in Digger Dialects meaning â€˜a soldierâ€™. By the 1940s, this term was used in Australian English for an Englishman (AND). Partridgeâ€™s explanation for the origin of this word was that it came from the â€˜forage cap worn by the soldiers resembled that worn by the pet dog Pongo from a Punch and Judy showâ€™. A more simple explanation may be that it derives from, or is influenced by, pong meaning â€˜a bad smellâ€™.
Jackspeak defines it as â€œAny member of the British Army â€“ more completely known as Percy Pongo or (also) as *Perce. A pongo is a hairy African sand-ape native to the deserts south of the Med; Royal will have you believe (incorrectly) that the word is derived from *Perceâ€™s occasional failure to wash on a daily basis, so where the Army goes, the pong goes as well".
More interestingly is the fact that it is listed between pond life and pooh trap in the Jack Speak dictionary. :lol:
Crab - IIRC - Came from the Brown-Jobs in reference to the post-trench de-lousing routine using a substance (nicknamed Crab Fat) that was the same colour as was to be the RAF Uniform. I think the Light blue uniform itself started out as a consignment of Uniforms for the Czar's Army but was stopped as by then the Commies had taken over.