loblolly boy

Definitions

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  • noun historical in 18th and 19th century warships, a non-professional assistant to the ship's surgeon.

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  • 'Loblolly' is a thick porridge sometimes containing a bit of meat or some vegetables, given to the sick. Among much else, it is the loblolly boy's job to feed this dainty dish to ailing seamen on board ship.

    To assist the ship's surgeon, you will ideally have a range of skills in stock-taking, home economics, client care and surgery. A strong stomach and steady nerve are essential. Duties will include the issue of all supplies, provisions and hospital stores and cleaning the cockpit and all the medical equipment.

    During operations, you will be responsible for providing charcoal to heat the irons used to sear amputated stumps and for heating the tar applied to stop haemorrhages. You may also be asked to gather up the severed limbs and throw them overboard. In the hierarchy of the ship, you will be somewhere between the cabin boy and a ship's rat – but, then, the only way is up!

    July 8, 2008