Kilroy was here

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A classic Kilroy without lettering

Kilroy was here ("Kilroy was here") is a slogan from the 1940s and 1950s that was used as graffito . The slogan was often accompanied by a picture showing a face with an elongated nose and two round eyes. That face looked over a wall. Sometimes fingers also appeared holding on to the wall.

The slogan was in World War II by US - soldiers used and took the form of a running gag on.


The slogan "Kilroy was here" is said to have been seen first on ships and in military ports in the USA in 1939. The graffiti spread rapidly and appeared on walls, vehicles, and other items where American troops passed through during World War II. A competition arose among the soldiers in which they had to be the first to paint the picture and the slogan in the most impossible and remote places one could imagine, and then to claim that it had already been there. Kilroy became a super GI . He was the man who had always been exactly where the troops were sent before. As a day , it highlighted the power and influence of the US Army. The saying was adopted by the British soldiers in 1942 at the latest. There were parallels and interactions with other popular culture motifs . The drawing was also previously signed with the signature “Schmoe is watching you”, especially in the US Army toilets, an indication that there was virtually no privacy. The British character Chad also used the same drawing, usually with the caption "WOT, no sugar," or some other scarce item. The Royal Australian Air Force used the slogan Foo was here . During World War II, these graffiti all seem to have merged into one. After the war, awareness of the slogan quickly fell. According to Robert Sickels, Kilroy was all but forgotten by the mid-1950s. The Encyclopedia of American Folklore, on the other hand, states that Kilroy accompanied the US Army "from Korea to Kuwait".

When in 1948 Henry L. Mencken recorded the saying for the second supplement to The American Language , he was already aware of three theories for its origin, without having decided on one of them. An explanation that has been widespread to this day says that the sentence comes from the ship's inspector James J. Kilroy . Kilroy worked at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy , Massachusetts . His job was to check the workers on the riveting hammers and see how many rivets they had driven in. So that he didn't count anything twice and to show his superiors that he was doing his job, he began to mark the hulls of the ships that he had already checked with "Kilroy was here". To make it clearly visible, Kilroy used a yellow pen. This made work easier for the inspectors because they could no longer inadvertently double count the work and the workers did not have to pay for work that they had not done. When a ship was then used for a military operation and was supposed to transport troops, the soldiers did not understand the apparently misplaced sentence. All they saw was that Kilroy , whoever he was, "was there (first)". When the lettering could be seen in a TV documentary about Fort Knox in a gold deposit that was locked in 1937, doubts about the current explanatory theory briefly arose. Inquiries from the film director, however, revealed that "the pictures in the documentation [...] were a recreated scene".

Kilroy at the Second World War Memorial in Washington

In addition to the real graffiti, legends spread where Kilroy is said to have been spotted everywhere. According to the author Charles Panati , the slogan is already on the summit of Mount Everest , on the torch of the Statue of Liberty , on the underside of the Paris Triumphal Arch , on the Marco Polo Bridge in China, on huts in Polynesia and on a carrier of the George Find Washington Bridge in New York . Even on the moon it is said to have been scribbled in the dust. An incident, which Panati also describes, is said to have occurred during the Potsdam Conference in July 1945: Stalin went into a toilet that was reserved exclusively for himself, Truman and Churchill . When he came out, an interpreter claims to have heard him ask: "Who is Kilroy?"

Mr. Chad

However, the figure of Kilroy comes from its British equivalent, Mr. Chad, which was used by British soldiers and the British population as early as the 1940s . With its accompanying slogans such as “Wot! No eggs? "Or" Wot! No Leave! ”He draws attention to facts and grievances. It is not known when Mr. Chad was taken over by the GIs and became Kilroy. But it must have been after 1942 because the GIs only fought against the Axis powers in Europe from August 1942 .


Movie and TV

  • In 1947 a film was made in Hollywood that referred to this saying: Kilroy was here . Directed by Phil Karlson , the leading roles played the former child stars Jackie Cooper (as John J. Kilroy ) and Jackie Coogan .
  • In the 1970 movie Shock Troop Gold, starring Clint Eastwood , Telly Savalas, and Donald Sutherland , Kilroy is left on the wall of a gold deposit that the heroes have just cleared, just minutes before the regular Allied troops show up.
  • In the episode The Invasion of the television series Doctor Who (season 6, episode 3), the Doctor and Jamey escape through an elevator shaft. The word Kilroy was here is scratched into the wall .
  • In the episode Frank and the Enemy (originally The Bus ) of the TV series M * A * S * H (Season 4, Episode 6) Hawkeye paints the word Kilroy on the dirty window of the bus, from which BJ looks like the Kilroy character . In April do what he wants (season 8, episode 25, original title: April Fools ) Hawkeye mentions that Charles would have been written on Kilroy while he was sleeping .
  • In the episode The Bullet That Saved the World of the television series Fringe - Borderline Cases by the FBI , Dr. Walter Bishop hid an important plan to save the world and marked it with the Kilroy graffito.
  • A drawn Kilroy appears in the opening credits of the Community series .
  • In the series Rocko's modern life , the hedge as the alleged murderer of Ed reveals the name Kilroy, among other things (episode: Ed is gone).
  • In the episode überaktlos (originally Overclockwise ) of the television series Futurama (season 6, episode 25) Kilroy can be seen without writing on the wall of the prison cell, in which Professor Farnsworth and Hubert are locked.
  • In the war film Greyhound - Battle of the Atlantic (Greyhound) Kilroy can be seen with writing on the radar unit in the Combat Information Center (CIC) of the Fletcher-class destroyer USS Keeling (nickname Greyhound).

Literature and theater

  • In his novel Space Cadet, published in 1948, Robert A. Heinlein names the fictional first interplanetary spaceship Kilroy was here , and the book refers to an Air Admiral Bull Kilroy as its origin .
  • Kilroy is one of the main characters in the 1953 play Camino Real by Tennessee Williams . Here he functions primarily as a mythical figure, as a kind of 'All-American Hero', as his European counterpart appears in the play Don Quixote .
  • In the SF -Kurzgeschichte The Message (interpreting. The news ) by Isaac Asimov travels the Temporalphysiker George Kilroy from the thread, without war 30th century to the coast of North Africa in 1940, in order to document the fighting. Kilroy is so fascinated by World War II that he forgets his job as a "mere observer". Before he goes back to his century, he simply has to leave a message to be part of this great event.
  • Thomas Pynchon mentions the Kilroy in chapter 16 of his novel V (1963). He writes that the Kilroy has its origin in the schematic representation of a band-pass filter .
  • Kilroy. Voices in the Subway is a book by Jürg Federspiel published in 1988 .
  • Kilroy Kilroy is a novel by Ib Michael in 1989. The author makes in his book the on amnesia suffering protagonists find this phrase by its new name.
  • In the novel Diary of the Apocalypse 2 by JL Bourne (2010), the main character hides a weapon in the refrigerator of an abandoned house. He leaves the drawing, including the lettering Kilroy was here, and looks in the refrigerator on the kitchen table.
  • On January 2, 2014, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , citing the slogan, announced that so-called “Kilroy three-lineers” would be printed every day for a year, not only in the features section , but also in other parts of the newspaper.


  • In 1967, the Birmingham- based band The Move (predecessor of the Electric Light Orchestra ) recorded a track called Kilroy Was Here . It was released on their debut album The Move in 1968 .
  • In 1975 the Austrian musician Georg Danzer released the single "Jö schau". On the cover there is a modification of the Kilroy figure.
  • On the 1976 album "Give Us A Wink!" the band "The Sweet" has a Kilroy figure on the back of the cover with the text "Kilroy winked here".
  • Marius Müller-Westernhagen depicts a Kilroy on the cover of his 1981 album Stinker .
  • The American band Styx released the album Kilroy Was Here in 1983 ; the most successful song was Mr. Roboto , with the words I'm Kilroy! ends.
  • Kil [l] roy was here is a title by Heinz Rudolf Kunze on the 2003 album Tailwind .

Computer games

  • In the 1984 published C64 computer game Killerwatt by Antony Crowther, the graffito "KILROY WAZ ERE" is on the first level on the wall.
  • In the Amiga Demo Megademo by the Budbrain Productions group , published in 1990, in the sequence 'The Squeeze' the writing "Kilroy" can be seen on the toilet wall .
  • In the computer game Flight of the Amazon Queen , published in 1995, the graffito is on a toilet in the pygmy village.
  • In the computer game Indiana Jones and the Tower of Babel (published late 1999) you can paint Kilroy on walls with chalk .
  • In the computer game Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway , published in 2008, it is a secondary task to find all Kilroy drawings in a level and to sign them with the phrase Kilroy was here .
  • In the 2009 computer game Call of Duty: World at War you also have to find all Kilroy drawings in a level.
  • In the iPhone / iPod game app "Brothers In Arms - Global Front", "Kilroy was here" graffiti are hidden throughout the game. This is to be found (as a secondary task).
  • In the computer game Sniper Elite V2 by Rebellion there is an achievement called "Killroy was here", for this you have to fight your way through a heavily guarded tower without being detected.
  • Kilroy also appears in the video game "Everybody's Gone To The Rapture" at a bus stop in the fictional southern English city of Yaughton.
  • In Call of Duty: WWII , Kilroy can be found in different locations. Among other things on a stone, in a bunker or on some outside walls.

radio play

  • 2016: Four-part radio play series by Robert Weber . With Marc Oliver Schulze , Therese Hämer , Martin Rentzsch, Matti Krause, Andreas Leupold, Isabelle Demey, Almut Henkel. Director: Mark Ginzler. SWR 2016.
  • 2017: Second season of the radio play series by Robert Weber. SWR 2017.

Web links

Commons : Kilroy  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Sü A short history of graffiti - please do not enter
  2. a b c Eric Partridge: A Dictionary of Catch Phrases: British and American, from the 16th Century to the Present Day . Routledge, 1986, pp. 136 and 277.
  3. a b c The straight dope: What's the Origin of Kilroy was here. August 4, 2000.
  4. ^ Robert Sickels: The 1940s . Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004, p. 113. ( online )
  5. Linda S. Watts: Encyclopedia of American Folklore . Infobase Publishing, 2006, p. 237. ( online )
  6. ^ Robert Hendrickson: The Facts On File Dictionary of American Regionalisms . Infobase Publishing 2000, p. 255. ( online )
  7. Jerold E. Brown (Ed.): Historical Dictionary of the United States Army , Greenwood, 2001, ISBN 0-313-29322-8 , p. 264; ( online ) at, accessed March 29, 2013.
  8. Legendary World War II slogan: Kilroy was here. In: one day . November 26, 2013, accessed December 3, 2013 .
  9. ^ Sü A short history of graffiti - please do not get in 8
  10. LIFE March 18, 1946, p. 17 [1]
  11. Gerard Loughran, United Press, Ludington Daily News, March 16, 1977 p. 19 [2]
  12. The Guardian Nov. 25, 2000, [3]
  13. The Curse & The Cure, Jan. 15, 2011, [4]
  14. ^ New York Times: Kilroy Was Here (1947).
  15. ^ First published in 1955 by Fantasy House Inc., a division of Mercury Publications.
  16. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , Feuilleton , page 25, heading: What will appear on these pages from today: Kilroy was here [5]
  18. [6]
  19. Killerwatt on Youtube
  20. Megademo on Youtube