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A battle cry is a yell or chant taken up in battle, usually by members of the same military unit.Battle cries are not necessarily articulate, although they often aim to invoke patriotic or religious sentiment.Their purpose is a combination of arousing aggression and esprit de corps on one's own side and causing intimidation on the hostile side.Battle cries are a universal form of display behaviour (i.e. threat display) aiming at competitive advantage, ideally by overstating one's own aggressive potential to a point where the enemy prefers to avoid confrontation altogether and opts to flee. In order to overstate one's potential for aggression, battle cries need to be as loud as possible, and have historically often been amplified by acoustic devices such as horns, drums, conches, carnyxes, bagpipes, bugle etc. (see also military music).

Battle cries are closely related to other behavioral patterns of human aggression, such as war dances and taunting, performed during the "warming up" phase preceding the escalation of physical violence.

From the Middle Ages, many cries appeared on standards and were adopted as mottoes, an example being the motto "Dieu et mon droit" ("God and my right") of the English kings. It is said that this was Edward III's rallying cry during the Battle of Crécy.

The word "slogan" originally derives from sluagh-gairm or sluagh-ghairm (sluagh = "people", "army" and gairm = "call", "proclamation"), the Scottish Gaelic word for "gathering-cry" and in times of war for "battle-cry". The Gaelic word was borrowed into English as slughorn, sluggorne, and slogan.

Tribal warfare

Māori warriors traditionally performed a haka, a posture dance with chanted vocals, before battle to intimidate their enemies. The All Blacks rugby union team performs a haka before each international match.

Many Native Americans used animal sounds to frighten and communicate. Some Native American ethnic groups are famous for their ability to imitate these sounds.



The war cry is an aspect of epic battle in Homer: in the Iliad, Diomedes is conventionally called "Diomedes of the loud war cry." Hellenes and Akkadiansmarker alike uttered the cry "alala" in battle, a cry not far from "Alleluia" (Burkert 1992:39-40).The troops of ancient Athensmarker, during the Medic Wars and the Peloponnesian War were noted for going into battle shouting "Alala", which was supposed to emulate the cry of the owl, the bird of their patron goddess Athena.
  • The troops of the Roman Republic would chant as they marched to intimidate an enemy, while the troops of the Roman Empire would stay silent, waiting for the final charge to yell their battle-cry.
  • The Biblical account of the Battle of Jericho has the battle-cry of the Israelites, amplified by horn-calls, collapse the fortifications of the city under siege
  • Plutarch reports that the Ambrones at the Battle of Aquae Sextiae were shouting their own tribal name, Ambrones!
  • The late Roman and Byzantine empires used "Nobiscum Deus" (Latin, "God with us"), as their battle cry.

Middle Ages

  • "Allahu Akbar" (the Takbir) meaning "God is great" in Arabic — was common in Muslim armies or commonly used by Muslim warriors such as Cheemas in battle, and is still heard today by soldiers throughout the Muslim world, as well as "Yaa Dhiskiaon", an onomatopoeic sound referring to gunpowder.
  • Parvati Pateyah Har Har Mahadev in Sanskrit meaning " Victory to the Supreme God (Shiva), The Lord of Parvati". This was a common battle cry for medieval Indian fighting against foreign invaders. Also used by the Hindu Marathas during their wars against the Muslim Moghuls.
  • The Hungarian conquerors used to shout the "Huj, Huj, Hajrá!!" battle cry (meaning "Forward!") when they attacked on their horses.
  • At the Battle of Hastingsmarker, Wace records that the housecarls of the Saxon army cried "Olicrosse!" and "Godamite!" ("Holy Cross" and "God Almighty", respectively), while the fyrd cried "Ut! Ut! Ut!" ("Out! Out! Out!").
  • The Normans' cry at the Battle of Hastingsmarker was "Dex Aie!" (Old Norman, "God aid us!"). This was last used by the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry during World War I.
  • The Crusaders used the cry "Caelum denique!" (Latin, "Heaven at last!"). The Crusaders, especially the religious orders, also used "Deus vult" (Latin, "God wills it").
  • In Spainmarker, during the Reconquista (718-1492 AD) and the conquest of America, they cried "Santiago y cierra, España" ("Saint James and attack, Spain") or simply "Santiago", seeking protection from St. James, the patron saint of Spain.
  • The French knights of the Middle Ages used to cry "Montjoie, St Denis!", calling upon the patron saint of France.
  • Portuguese troops, after the 14th century, used to cry "Portugal e São Jorge! (Portugalmarker and Saint George), calling for the patron saint of Portugal. Before that the Portuguese used the common Iberianmarker cry "Santiago!".
  • The Anglo-Gascon knights of the Middle Ages used to cry "Guyenne! Saint George!" during their fights against the French.
  • "Hrr na ně!" (Czech, "At them!") was used by Hussite warriors during the Hussite Wars. Modern Czech infantry often uses "Hurá!" while charging (similar to the Russian Army cry mentioned below).
  • The Almogavars used to cry "Desperta ferro!", which translates as "Awake the iron!". They used to cry this shout the dawn before a battle, while they beat their swords on the nearby rocks to keep them clean from the rust. In the dim light many sparks were lighted, which scared the enemy watching them, as explained by Ramon Muntaner. Is now used by Spanish paratroopers.


Early modern to modern (1500 to 1914) war cries

  • The various Gaelic-speaking peoples have a long tradition of employing battle cries. One used by the Irish people is Fág an bealach! (sometimes rendered "Faugh a ballaugh!"), Irish for "Clear the way!" The O'Neill family motto is the Irish "An lámh dhearg abú", in English "The Red Hand" — the heraldic symbol of O'Neill and Ulster — followed by Abú, which is a war cry possibly related to buaidh 'victory'. "Tiocfaidh ár lá" is another cry used, primarily by the Irish Republican Army, which translates into "Our day will come" in reference to that organisation's desire for Northern Ireland to secede from the United Kingdom and join with the Republic of Ireland. It has become the unofficial slogan of the Irish Republican movement and is sometimes shouted as "Beidh ár lá linn", or "We shall have our day!"
  • Some Scottish clans have war cries in addition to their motto, slogan, or rallying cry:-
  • "На Нож!" pronounced "Na Nozh!", translated "On Knife!" is a Bulgarian battle cry derived from attacking en bayonette. Popular among the Bulgarian army since the Balkan Wars, it is still used today.

  • The French soldiers (XVII-XVIIIth cent., when Montjoie Saint-Denis was no more used) were using during battle "Pour le Roi et pour la France !" (For the King and for France).
  • The French soldiers under the rule of Napoleon, particularly the cavalry men, used during their charges "Vive l'Empereur !" (Long live to the Emperor).


Many nations use a battle cry or shout of acknowledgment that has a similar sound to "Hoo-rah" although explanations can vary wildly.

  • The British Parachute Regiment has traditionally used the unique battle-cry "Wahoo Mohammed!" when going into battle. Its use originates from World War II, 1942-1943, when men of the 1st Airborne Division were used for conventional combat for the first time in Tunisia, during the North African campaign.

  • Gurkha soldiers have historically used "Jai Mahakali, Ayo Gorkhali", meaning "Victory to goddess Mahakali, the Gurkhas are here." This is still used by the Gurkha regiments of the Indian Army and British Army.

  • A Finnishmarker battle cry "Hakkaa päälle!", roughly "Cut them down!" or "Hack on!", which gave the colloquial name, Hakkapeliitta for the Finnish cavalry in the Thirty Years' War. Sometimes a longer version is used, "Hakkaa päälle Pohjan poika!", "Cut them down, son of the North!". One Finnish battle cry during World War II, since popularized by The Unknown Soldier, was "Tulta munille!" which — again roughly — translates as "Fire at their balls!".

  • The war cry of the French Colonial Army, particularly the paratroopers, was "Pour la colo!" (literally, "for the Colo", colo meaning "coloniale". Colo was the nickname for the colonial troops).

  • The Greek Army battle cry is "Aera!", i.e. "(sweep them away like the) wind."

  • The Indian Army uses the cry "Jai Hind" which is Hindi for "Rule/Victory for India" and also "Vande Mataram" and "Bharat Mata ki Jai". Some regiments use their own individual war cries (as seen below).
    • "Har Har Mahadev!" (referring to the god Shiva) was used by the Marathas who formed the Maratha Empire. It is still used by the Maratha regiment of the Indian Army.
    • Sikh soldiers have historically used "Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal", meaning "He who cries God is Truth is ever blessed". This is still used by the soldiers of the Indian Army's Sikh, Sikh Light Infantry and Punjab regiments.

  • Indonesian Peta guerrillas or soldiers have or may continue to yell: "Mati" ("Die!") or "Ganyang Melayu" "Crush Malaysia" (used during Indonesia's Konfrontasi, "Ganyang Bombai" "Crush Indians (referring to Indian soldiers used by Britain to recapture Indonesia for the Netherlands)"Ganyang Cina" "Crush Chinese!" "Ganyang Belanda/Inggris/Londo" "Crush Dutch/British/"Whitey" during 1945-49 Independence War against Australia, Britain and Holland. Islamic fanatics such as Darul Islam or Jema'ah Islamiyah may cry "Allah Akbar". "Banzai" was also used by the Gyugeikan and Peta pro-Japanese Indonesian forces who decimated Australians in Papua New Guinea.
    • Acehnese GAM terrorists would cry "Allahu Akbar"
    • OPM terrorists in West Papuamarker who are Melanesian stone-age primitives make "whooping" sounds similar to a howler monkey before attacking rival tribes, police, rival villagers or military personnel.

  • The modern Israelimarker battle cry, the Hebrew "Kadima!", translates literally into English as "Forward!". Two other Israeli battle crys are "Akharai!", which translates as "After me," and "Iti!", which translates as "With me" and is associated with the Givati Brigade.

  • In Japanmarker during World War II, the kamikaze pilots' battle cry was "Banzai!" (meaning "Ten thousand years"). (Many people misunderstood "Tora, Tora, Tora!" (Japanese, "Tiger, Tiger, Tiger!") as a battle cry. But this was the content of the radio signal that indicated that the Pearl Harbor attackmarker had been a complete success in catching the enemy unaware.)

  • The Russian Army battle cry had traditionally been "Ourrah!" (pronounced "oo-RAH," equivalent to "Hurrah!"). A common war cry during the Second World War was "Ourrah pobieda!", meaning "Hail victory!". (Another war cry used by Sovietmarker soldiers during the Second World War, was "Za Rodinu! Za Stalina!", meaning "For Motherland! For Stalin!")

  • The Pakistan Army, in addition to "Allahu Akbar", also uses "Pakistan Zindabad", meaning in Urdu, "Long live Pakistan". Some regiments use their own individual war cries (as seen below)

See also


  • Burkert, Walter, 1992. The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influences on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age, p 39f.
  • Guilhem Pepin, ‘Les cris de guerre « Guyenne ! » et « Saint George ! ». L’expression d’une identité politique du duché d’Aquitaine anglo-gascon’, Le Moyen Age, cxii (2006) pp 263–81

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