carbine
light automatic rifle
caulked
to fill the holes or cracks in something
chit
official note, in this case an order
cipher
person of no importance or influence
civvies
civilian clothes (i.e. not military uniform)
cudgel
club, used as a weapon
hatchet
small hand-held axe
hod
container used by builders to carry bricks and mortar
kasha
porridge (made from any cereal, and eaten in Slavic countries)
kolkhoz
collective farm in the Soviet Union
kulak
relatively well-off peasants in the Soviet Union; kulak means ‘fist’ in Russian, and refers to their tight-fistedness. These peasants were repressed and persecuted under Stalin’s regime.
lag
convict
lath
supporting framework, made of wood and used as a backing for the roofing felt
Lett
Latvian
middy
(informal) midshipman
millet
cereal grass used for making porridge
navvy
(informal) menial labourer
oakum
loose fibre from rope, used to fill in cracks
oprichniki
members of an organisation set up by Tsar Ivan the Terrible to govern the division of a region of Russia known as the Oprichnina. The organisation inspired terror and was responsible for a great deal of murder and torture.
peach
to tell tales, to blab
pood
old Russian weight measurement equivalent to approximately 16 kilogrammes (36 pounds)
prole
proletarian, a member of the working class
reveille
signal to wake up in the morning
skilly
thin porridge or soup, usually made of a cereal and water, and flavoured with meat or fish
squealer
informer, a person who receives money in exchange for confidential information
stakhanovite
member of the Stakhanovite Movement, named after Aleksei Grigorievich Stakhanov, which aimed to increase efficiency and productivity through the promotion of hard work
steppe
large expanse of flat, grassy land without trees, predominant in Siberia
taiga
area located north of the steppe and south of the Arctic Circle, characterised by evergreen coniferous forests
tommy gun
type of sub-machine gun
troika
Russian carriage pulled by three horses alongside one another
trusty
convict who is considered trustworthy and enjoys special privileges
turnkey
prison guard
valenki
felt boots, worn in winter
zek
pronunciation of official abbreviation of Russian word for inmate