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Kilroy was here

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by mj40's, May 20, 2013.

  1. mj40's
    Joined: Dec 11, 2008
    Posts: 3,299


    Kilroy was Here

    What a GREAT story !!!

    Who knows the genesis of “Kilroy was here “ ????

    Here’s the rest of the story:

    He is engraved in stone in the National War Memorial in Washington, DC- back in a small alcove where very few people have seen it. For the WWII generation, this will bring back memories. For you younger folks, it's a bit of trivia that is a part of our American history.

    Anyone born in 1913 to about 1950, is familiar with Kilroy. No one knew why he was so well known- but everybody got into it, I even remember seeing him around public places in the late 60s...
    So who the heck was Kilroy?

    In 1946 the American Transit Association, through its radio program, "Speak to America ," sponsored a nationwide contest to find the real Kilroy, offering a prize of a real trolley car to the person who could prove himself to be the genuine article. Almost 40 men stepped forward to make that claim, but only James Kilroy from Halifax, Massachusetts, had evidence of his identity.

    'Kilroy' was a 46-year old shipyard worker during the war who worked as a checker at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy. His job was to go around and check on the number of rivets completed. Riveters were on piecework and got paid by the rivet. He would count a block of rivets and put a check mark in semi-waxed lumber chalk, so the rivets wouldn't be counted twice. When Kilroy went off duty, the riveters would erase the mark.
    Later on, an off-shift inspector would come through and count the rivets a second time, resulting in double pay for the riveters.

    One day Kilroy's boss called him into his office. The foreman was upset about all the wages being paid to riveters, and asked him to investigate. It was then he realized what had been going on. The tight spaces he had to crawl in to check the rivets didn't lend themselves to lugging around a paint can and brush, so Kilroy decided to stick with the waxy chalk. He continued to put his check mark on each job he inspected, but added 'KILROY WAS HERE' in king-sized letters next to the check, and eventually added the sketch of the chap with the long nose peering over the fence and that became part of the Kilroy message..

    Once he did that, the riveters stopped trying to wipe away his marks. Ordinarily the rivets and chalk marks would have been covered up with paint.. With the war on, however, ships were leaving the Quincy Yard so fast that there wasn't time to paint them. As a result, Kilroy's inspection "trademark" was seen by thousands of servicemen who boarded the troopships the yard produced.

    His message apparently rang a bell with the servicemen, because they picked it up and spread it all over Europe and the South Pacific.
    Before war's end, "Kilroy" had been here, there, and everywhere on the long hauls to Berlin and Tokyo. To the troops outbound in those ships, however, he was a complete mystery; all they knew for sure was that someone named Kilroy had "been there first." As a joke, U.S. servicemen began placing the graffiti wherever they landed, claiming it was already there when they arrived.

    Kilroy became the U.S. super-GI who had always "already been" wherever GIs went. It became a challenge to place the logo in the most unlikely places imaginable (it is said to be atop Mt. Everest, the Statue of Liberty, the underside of the Arc de Triomphe, and even scrawled in the dust on the moon.

    As the war went on, the legend grew. Underwater demolition teams routinely sneaked ashore on Japanese-held islands in the Pacific to map the terrain for coming invasions by U.S. troops (and thus, presumably, were the first GI's there). On one occasion, however, they reported seeing enemy troops painting over the Kilroy logo!

    In 1945, an outhouse was built for the exclusive use of Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill at the Potsdam conference. Its' first occupant was Stalin, who emerged and asked his aide
    (in Russian), "Who is Kilroy?"

    To help prove his authenticity in 1946, James Kilroy brought along officials from the shipyard and some of the riveters. He won the trolley car, which he gave to his nine children as a Christmas gift and set it up as a playhouse in the Kilroy yard in Halifax, Massachusetts.

    And the tradition continues...
    Last edited: May 20, 2013
  2. J'st Wandering
    Joined: Jan 28, 2004
    Posts: 1,769

    J'st Wandering

    Got that question answered. Did not know there was a story behind it. Thanks.
  3. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 18,027

    from California

    well what do you know about that.... interesting story.
  4. mashed
    Joined: Oct 15, 2011
    Posts: 1,474

    from 4077th

    Right on. Thanks for taking the time to post.

  5. Mopar Jack
    Joined: Jan 24, 2010
    Posts: 1,363

    Mopar Jack

    Wow,great story...thanks...
  6. eppster
    Joined: Jan 26, 2011
    Posts: 223


    I always wondered about how that started , Great story !!!
  7. Murphy32
    Joined: Oct 17, 2007
    Posts: 738

    from Minnesota


    I've got one of these at home...
  8. 40fordtudor
    Joined: Jan 3, 2010
    Posts: 2,503


    I had heard he was a ship inspector---didn't know he checked rivets. It WAS a big deal "back in the day". Thanks for the post.
  9. Okatoma cruiser
    Joined: Feb 9, 2013
    Posts: 179

    Okatoma cruiser
    from Ms

    That's a neat story! Always wondered bout that
  10. Always wondered, now I know!
  11. alfin32
    Joined: Jun 20, 2006
    Posts: 1,423

    from Essex, Ma.

    The first time i saw that phrase was back in the late '50's.
    There was an LST [ Landing Ship, Tank, I believe.] run aground in the Passaic River, between Passaic, and North Arlington, NJ, where I lived. We used to sneak on it, and look around, and that was written inside. I thought it was cool, but at the time, had no idea what it meant.
  12. Zerk
    Joined: May 26, 2005
    Posts: 1,418


    Possibly the inspiration for The Moon Equipment Co., whose customers had an informal competition to see who could apply the "MOONEYES" decal to the most remote spot of landscape or architecture.
  13. great story. as a kid during the war years, we would draw that on anything that didn't move. never knew the story behind it. thanks.
  14. Cool bit of info!


  15. I have one of these also.
  16. My dad was at Guadacanal and a few other Solomon Islands fighting in the war. He told me the story of him and a couple of other GIs hiking to the top of some isolated mountaintop on some God forsaken island looking to put a lookout. After a lot of jungle hacking and climbing they got to the top. Looking around they spotted a small cave opening. When they went inside to take a peek he said there was "Kilroy was here" written on the cave wall.
    I wonder if the astronauts put it on the moon somewhere.
  17. wow great story i love this stuff
  18. Kilroy had one of those in real life! he sired nine children:eek:
  19. That's an interesting read. Recently my wife and I saw one of those on a wall somewhere and she asked me if I knew what it ment. I told her I didn't, but I thought it was from WWII.

    I saw the Kilroy graffiti in an old movie when I was a kid and started my own Kilroy campaign on family vacations. I liked the funny face peering over the line.
  20. Devin
    Joined: Dec 28, 2004
    Posts: 2,352

    from Napa, CA

    What a cool story. Thanks

    Posted from the TJJ App for iPhone & iPad
  21. pbr40
    Joined: Aug 10, 2008
    Posts: 792

    from NW Indiana

    Glad that you shared that story for us young guys to pass on!!!! Great pei e of history
  22. Mnhotrodbuilder
    Joined: Jul 12, 2010
    Posts: 1,142

    from Afton, MN

    This was a really cool read and thanks for sharing it. On a related note, I was in a pota john in Afghanistan today, doing my buisness and right there on the door was a carving of kilroy and the words carved in it saying Kilroy was here. It made me smile knowing why someone would do that. I must have seen that carving 100's of times and never thought twice about it until today.
  23. 57Custom300
    Joined: Aug 21, 2009
    Posts: 1,346

    from Arizona

    Cool story. I remember 1st seeing it in the RR depot in San Diego back in 69' while stationed there w/USMC. I knew it was from WW11 (probably from my dad) but never knew the story.
  24. ffr1222k
    Joined: Nov 5, 2009
    Posts: 1,160


    LST was Landing Ship Troops. My Dad served on one in WWII in the South Pacific.
  25. jesse1980
    Joined: Aug 25, 2010
    Posts: 1,355


    One of my favorite bars to drink and hang out in in my early 20s was kilroys bar in Lansing Illinois.
  26. F-ONE
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,506

    from Alabama


    With all due respect to you, LST does indeed mean "Landing Ship Tank". They did carry troops for amphibous assault but more importantly they carried tanks so landing troops could be supported by armor.
    A LST was flat bottomed and capable of going in very close to the beach allowing the tanks carried on board to drive out the bow doors directly onto the beach or into shallow water.

    In the Pacific USMC LSTs carried amtracs or armored swimming tractors that could drive off the LST in deep water and swim to shore.
    A troop transport was a lot of the time a converted passenger liner, although many were built in the war as trasnsports from the drawing board. The men departed a transport by climbing down cargo nets to awaiting Higgins boats or Amtracs.

    Large Slow Target was the common nickname for an LST. My wife's grandfather, a cook was decoraded due to manning a gun after the crew was wounded. He was wounded himself. They were engaging German shore batteries close in, June 6, 1944.
  27. Saxon
    Joined: Aug 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,157

    from MN

    One of the first things I learned to draw as a little kid. Never knew the exact origins of the image before now.
  28. shinysideup
    Joined: Sep 1, 2008
    Posts: 1,627

    from ruskin, fl

    Glad to learn that history,thank you.

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