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Interesting True Stories
Sunday, 19 April 2009

kilroy350.jpg 


Who was Kilroy?

And why was he here?


And there?

And everywhere?


goldline500pxl.jpg
 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. He 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.

Kilroy 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 that 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 checkmark 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 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 the war's end, 
"Kilroy" had been here, there, and everywhere on the long haul to Berlin 
and Tokyo.

 To the unfortunate troops outbound in those ships, however, he was a 
complete mystery; all they knew for sure was that some jerk 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 Arch De Triumphe, and even scrawled in the dust on
the 
moon.)

 And 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 the 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.  The first person inside 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 front yard in Halifax, Massachusetts.

 The etching above is engraved on a WW2 memorial in Washington, DC

Click here for more about Kilroy and the legends that abound.  


Last Updated ( Monday, 06 December 2010 )
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