Kilroy is here

Target audience for this post:

  • People who endured the painful egg-puns in my last blog and no longer believe in the virtues of the egg — the egg-no-sticks.
  • Patient people who waited for the Kilroy post I have threatened to write. Thanks Shantanu!

Once upon a time I mentioned about my mom, the teacher. Today we shall finish that thought. It should be obvious to anyone who reads this blog, that I love to get on a soapbox and preach. Give me a captive audience and I’ll sit and give fundaes on irrelevant things in life, till the cows come home. (Once they’re home, I expect them to listen as well.) And with a teacher-mom at home, I like to believe that this lecturing habit is in my genes, as opposed to other parts of my wardrobe.

So what’s the lecture topic for today? Kilroy. Why? Because my sidebar has a doodleboard with the title Kilroy Was Here that has mystified many a reader and resulted in interestingly varied queries:

  • Who is Kilroy and why was he above your doodleboard?
  • Why only Kilroy? Why can’t I have my name instead?
  • Why was Quickgun Murugan not here?
  • Who is Roy and why have you killed him?

Yes, the blog world has been terribly excited with the buzz surrounding this phrase, it seems. And like any good mystery, this too should be solved. So here’s the scoop. Of course, you search-engine savvy folks could have found out for yourself. You probably already did. But if I can turn a simple Google search into an elaborate whoop-de-doo, you think I’ll pass the chance? So here it is. Information paraphrased from various websites. Why reinvent the wheel?

KilroyDuring the World War II, the phrase ‘Kilroy was here’ began to appear wherever US troops were. It was often accompanied with the image of a face with a long nose and two big round eyes or small dot eyeballs peeking over a wall or a line representing a wall. Everything else, except sometimes his fingers gripping the top of the wall, was hidden behind the wall itself.

James J Kilroy was a ship inspector at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts, USA. (Ooh! Local boy!) It was his responsibility to check on how many holes a riveter had filled in a shift on any given day. In order to prevent double counting by dishonest riveters and to prove to his supervisors that he’d been doing his work, he began marking ‘Kilroy was here’ inside the hulls of the ships being built. He used yellow crayon so it would be easily visible; this way the off-shift inspectors wouldn’t count the rivets more than once and pay the riveter for work he hadn’t done.

Once the ship became operative, carrying military troops that were headed overseas and bound for the war, the phrase was a complete mystery. Why it was there and being found in such out of the way places made it all the more mysterious. All they could be certain of was that Kilroy, whoever he was, had ‘been there first’. As a joke, troops began placing the graffiti wherever the US forces landed and claimed it had already been there when they’d arrived.

Whoever originated it, Kilroy quickly became the United States super GI who had always already been wherever men were sent by the military. The game quickly became a challenge to put the picture and slogan in the most unlikely places imaginable first. It is said to be atop Mount Everest, on the torch of the Statue of Liberty, on the underside of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, on the Marco Polo Bridge in China, on huts in Polynesia, on a girder on the George Washington Bridge in New York and scrawled in the dust on the moon. There were contests in the Air Force to beat Kilroy to isolated and uninhabited places around the globe.

The cartoon part of the graffiti has a different origin. According to some, it is originally British, named Mr Chad, and apparently predates Kilroy by a few years. It commonly appeared with the phrase “Wot, no ____?” underneath, with the blank filled in by whatever was in short supply in Britain at the time — cigarettes, spam, etc. Sometime during the war, Chad and Kilroy met and merged, the American phrase appearing under the British drawing.

The combined logo plus doodle gained popularity, initially appearing wherever the military went, but soon spreading in use amongst civilians as well. And thus was born, the most ubiquitous of all graffiti.

And now, it has appeared on my blog. Much joy!

30 thoughts on “Kilroy is here

  1. Megha

    [pingoo] Okay hmm-ing bird, correct me if I am wrong, but I take that ‘hmm’ to mean this — I was here, I read the blog, I don’t have anything particular to say, but this is my way of acknowledging that I read it. Also, I’m a man of few words, so I’ll mumble a ‘hmm’ and you can come up with an elaborate interpretation for it that makes you happy.

    So how off the mark am I? :)

    [Sriram] Aink! What did Nine do to deserve this stepsisterly treatment? :)

  2. ..:: J ::..

    Kilroy James J < << J again...

    egg-ually intriguing, My brother has started showing signs of looking like my father.. maybe it steps in late for the guys

    sorry i couldnt r-egg-ist….

  3. Rajesh J Advani

    The puns are back! :) And so are the eggs, apparently :D

    Yet another riotiously funny post :) How do you do it, eh?

    Btw, on the lines of the Tarantino movie, any Kil Roy Vol II coming up? :)

  4. Primalsoup

    Oui, the last post said that you were ‘getting off’ from the soapbox, and this post sees you on top of it again…. Hmmm, lets see now, you were clean for all of 9 days, not too bad I would reckon! :)
    This whole Kilroy notion is pretty cool, hadn’t dwelled too much into it… faintly recall my dad trying to explain this to me, with me as a rather pesky-of-low-attention-span-teenager!:)
    Oh, BTW I meant to ask you this, on your comment on my post you signed off as ‘another member of the happy family’, or something to that affect What exactly did that mean? Okay, am sure in some parts of the world this would qualify as poor response time, but what to do, I was mostly busy feeling self piteous at that point, and when that happens the attention to detail sort of dips a bit!
    PS: Managed that comment after spending an hour (and causing valuable loss to the GDP and National/Company Resources), technology arrrggghhh!

  5. Vignesh

    Alright Viggie, calm down.

    a. I think you went too far with them italics this time around ! Blogger throws up the title in the HTML title tag, and that comes up as the title fo the browser window, which cannot render HTML, so I see the italics tags. Man, I love geeky conversations like this with nerdy Bawstonians ;)

    b. Please, don’t tell me you are a Trekkie. I shan’t be able to take it. Nerdy, Trekkie, Bawstonian !!! Where have you been all my life ;)

    Captain Benjamin Sisco was the worst. Ever. Even Picard to kick him around the ring. And Kirk, oh my, Capt. James Tiberius Kirk…

  6. Stuti

    Ah, ha cool trivia. And I much loved that egg post and am also egg-ed on to write something on my Blog! :)

    And you know Vignesh, you asked me exactly the same question a while back on my blog. The question being, ‘Where were you all my life!’ Tsk tsk! :)

  7. Prasad

    my oh my…. here is one more… how many mysteries u’ve got in ur blog!!! am wondering….
    this one is good, like others too.. :)
    anything else in the making??? i smell something else too… comeo share all those mysteries in ur blog… ;)

  8. shantanu

    hey megha, thnx for the post (finally!!). BEing the lazy bum that I am, I never searched for it, though I did thought of doing that once..But that is more than enuff work for my petite mind…So, thnx once again :)

  9. Megha

    [.:: J ::..] The J’s are like Agent Smith, it seems! A new one pops up every second! I think we all eventually become our parents, looks-wise, behavior-wise or otherwise. Always welcome with the puns :)

    [Rajesh] Oh thank you thank you! You are too kind. As for the painful puns, it is an inborn skill I guess. Yes I use the word ‘skill’ loosely, so wipe that smirk off your face ;) Nice take on Kil Roy Vol II. Mogambo khush hua!

    [Sagnik] Ah, looky who’s here! Welcome back and thankoo! I think it is more like ‘pointless trivia, annoying puns, more pointless trivia’ but I like your version better :)

    [Hirdu] Glad you liked it! And thanks a bunch for the link. My blog is mighty thrilled :)

    [Primalsoup] Nine days without my soapbox .. is nine days too many, if you ask me! Me lovvvves it and was beginning to have withdrawal symptoms without it! As for the happy family thing — that was an obtuse reference to your comment about how happy we all are and what not. The winkie was strategically placed to suggest the subtle hint but apparently it didn’t work as planned. Shall try to be more acute in future :) Oh and I sympathize about your Blogger woes. Apologies to you and the GDP. Admire your persistence though! :)

    [Vignesh] Ah he actually had something to say this time! Much honored! As for where i’ve been all your life, please to see my response below to Closet Claustrophobic :)

    a. Emphasis, my boy, it is called emphasis. I am willing to have the funky italics tag in my browser title, if that makes the actual post title have italics. As they say — it is a feature, not a bug. At least that’s my story and i’m sticking with it ;) Nerdy Bawstonians do enjoy these geeky conversations though, so please to continue! :)

    b. Okay, I won’t *tell* you i’m a Trekkie since you requested so much, but it won’t change my being one :) My very first post on this blog will give you a hint of that, in fact. I’m not a crazed fanatic types though. Saw Classic Trek as a kid in India, but watched TNG more after moving here. What was the Trek connection with this post, btw? Ah the DS9 comment! Personally I prefer Picard. And Kirk .. hmmm .. have you ever heard Shatner sing Tambourine Man? I have, and let me tell you — watching Captain Kirk is simply not the same any more :)

    [Closet Claustrophobic] Thank you! And happy to hear that you’re considering writing something! As for Viggie’s ‘where have you been all my life’ methinks this is one of those infamous pickup lines he ‘picked up’ while on vacation, that he hopes to successfully use on unsuspecting nerdy gals. We are simply guinea pigs, of course. The true target lies elsewhere, most likely :)

    [Prasad] Thankoo! Now i’ll have to plant some mysteries in my blog just so I can unravel them and make it look cool :)

    [Shantanu] You are most welcome. Thanks for not giving up :)

  10. pingoo

    hmm.. I never thought I would have to explain my hmm.. sometime !! ok..

    a. I read this post(ofcourse) and got all that ! interesting.
    b. I read this post but I didn’t get all of that. Some things went over the top, seems interesting anyways.
    c. I don’t know what to say, so I’ll shut up.
    d. I want to say a lot but I quiver at the thought of churning out so many tangential arrows that a quiver cannot hold them all. So I’ll shut up.

    Here I meant a :) and yes, you can come up with an elaborate interpretation that makes you happy !

  11. Vignesh

    Ahhh… I see how this goes… you setup unsuspecting Trekkies on a blog with ONE post, that too about the Borg, and lead me onto to get confused about the personalities of Megha and CC… and when I inquire delicately about your whereabouts, give no reply, causing me to, *sniff sniff*, move on. If I were as suave as Kirk was with them ladies, I would have impressed more… but then again, maybe I should have made a Borg joke… ‘Assimilate me’ or some such… (now THAT is one of the pickup lines that I came up with ;))

    All that was directed at CC, btw. Now for the Bawstonian.

    Have you ever seen Stewart on Broadway ? He is Shakespearean… no one who throws Shakespeare at Q, can be a better captain than Kirk.

    I would have to search the entire galaxy indeed, dear lady, to find a better target for my ‘pickup’ lines than a nerdy, Trekkie Bawstonian ;)

  12. Mustang

    i’d a different theory :|

    i was told tht post Ashiquie when Rahul Roy started doing movies like Ghazab Tamasha, Bhookamp…people started geting annoyed. Final nail in the coffin was when he did a movie called Megha. A blogger I know couldn’t handle it anymore, n decided to settle her personal vendetta by scribbling KillRoy here!…tht Rahul issued public apology, the death threat has been reworded into a cool sounding graffiti Kilroy was here!

  13. Megha

    [pingoo] Ah goodie, glad to know it is a. And thankoo for letting me do my own creative interpretations! :) Every fourth comment you write on the blog is from the ‘hmm’ family, so naturally us people with enquiring minds wanted to know, so we asked. And the next time you have a quiver full of tangents, just fire away. Should make for some fun discussions :)

    [Vignesh] I’ll let CC handle her part of the comment, although ‘Assimilate me’ ? Eeeesh! :)

    And excooj me? You are talking to someone who *loves* the Bard’s works! HOW can Picard spouting Shakespeare possibly be a bad thing? A man who can quote the Bard, run a tight ship, keep the Klingons in check .. It doesn’t get much better than this. Kirk, he says! Pffffft! *still cracking up at the memories of Tambourine Man* :)

    Oh my my! The entire galaxy? Now I have to keep an eye out for how many bloggers you’ve used *that* line on ;) CC, are you listening?

    [Manjusha] Thankoo! For both :)

    [Mustang] ROTFL! :)) Leave it to you to figure out the kookiest and wildest connections! That was brilliant! *clap clap* And yes, with Rahul Roy starring in it, your theory sounds very plausible! By the way, I had learnt about this movie only recently. Karishma Kapoor plays the title character who has three heroes wooing her, it seems? And if Rahul Roy was bad, check out her other two options. Ronit Roy and Mohnish Behl. Yikes!

  14. Vignesh

    And there in lies the problem and your like for old balding captains of the USS Enterprise. AND Picard doesn’t keep the Klingons at bay, they have a peace treaty that keeps them at bay. They are friends with the Federation now. They play doll house with humans. So much for your Trekkie knowledge girlie !!

    Man,I can only imagine the sheer number of people we are chasing away from your blog by this ubergeekness that is Star Trek.

  15. Hagrid

    The Legend of KILROY
    The young James Kilroy was working on the docks of Boston harbor in the 1940s, loading the freight ships of the time with big crates filled with blue jeans, destined for the far reaches of the world.
    One early November morning the day started as so many before it. The wind was blowing, the weather was gray and drab, and James Kilroy was not in a mood for anything but staying inside, sheltered from wind and rain.

    “So, Kilroy, are you dreaming again? Not much you get done today.” Kilroy not even blinked, he was used to the foreman and his insults. And the boxes with 100,000 pairs of blue jeans were waiting to be loaded. No way around it, he better get it over with.

    But when Kilroy bent down to lift one of the crates he suddenly got a bright idea — an idea so brilliant that it couldn’t be withheld. He grabbed a piece of chalk out of his pocket, and with big, visible letters he marked each box with: “KILROY WAS HERE.”

    And through those boxes — appearing in harbors across the whole planet — KILROY’s spirit reached the whole world. Indeed an effective way of getting around! After that, whenever the foreman shouted to Kilroy that he never got anything accomplished, he just smiled. He knew better. In harbors across the globe boxes were appearing every day to prove the foreman wrong. Kilroy knew that one could transcend borders and break through barriers many ways, and thereby feel free and independent.


  16. Stuti

    Whoops, The ‘real target’; you say lies elsewhere? Hmmm :)

    And Vignesh, “Assimilate me!” is a bad bad bad pick-up line. Never assume that there is such a thing as a Trekkie Girl! Everyone hates a Geek, anyway! :)

    Any-who, I am mostly partial to Picard too! Kirk is the guy boys want to be when they grow up! :) Thus, spaketh the elder sister of kid brother fame!

  17. Sivani

    1) There’s a website dedicated to the various kilroy legends:

    2) From Asimov’s “Earth is Room Enough”

    “They drank beer and reminisced as men will who have met after long separation. They called to mind the days under fire. They remembered-sergeants and girls, both with exaggeration. Deadly things became humorous in retrospect, and trifles disregarded for ten years were hauled out for airing. Including, of course, the perennial mystery. “How do you account for it ?” asked the first. “Who started it ?” The second shrugged. “No one started it. Everyone was doing it, like a disease. You, too, I suppose.” The first chuckled. The third one said softly, “I never saw the fun in it Maybe because I came across it first when I was under fire for the first time. North Africa.” “Really ?” said the second. “The first night on the beaches of Oran. I was getting under cover, making for some native shack and I saw it in the lights of a flare”

    George was deliriously happy. Two years of red tape and now he was finally back in the past. Now he could complete his paper on the social life of the foot soldier of World War Il with some authentic details. Out of the war less, insipid society of the thirtieth century, he found himself for one glorious moment in the tense, superlative drama of the warlike twentieth. North Africa! Site of the first great sea-borne invasion of the war. How the temporal physicists had scanned the area for the perfect spot and moment. This shadow of an empty wooden building was it. No human would approach for a known number of minutes. No blast would seriously affect it in that time. By being there, George would not affect history. He would be that ideal of the temporal physicist, the “pure observer.” It was even more terrific than he had imagined. There was the perpetual roar of artillery, the unseen tearing of planes overhead. There were the periodic lines of tracer bullets splitting the sky and the occasional ghastly glow of a flare twisting downward. And he was here! He, George, was part of the war, part of an intense kind of life forever gone from the world of the thirtieth century, grown tame and gentle.

    He imagined he could see the shadows of an advancing column of soldiers, hear the low cautious monosyllables slip from one to another. How he longed to be one of them in truth, not merely a momentary intruder, a “pure observer”. He stopped his note taking and stared at his stylus, its micro light hypnotizing him for a moment. A sudden idea had overwhelmed him and he looked at the wood against which his shoulder pressed. This moment must not pass unforgotten into history. Surely doing this would affect nothing. He would use the older English dialect and there would be no suspicion. He did it quickly and then spied a soldier running desperately toward the structure, dodging a burst of bullets. George knew his time was up, and, even as he knew it, found himself back in the thirtieth century. It didn’t matter. For those few minutes he had been part of World War II. A small part, but part. And others would know it. They might not know they know it, but someone perhaps would repeat the message to himself. Someone, perhaps that man running for shelter, would read it and know that along with all the heroes of the twentieth century was the “pure observer”, the man from the thirtieth century, George Kilroy. He was there!”

  18. Vignesh

    CC: You broke my geeky little heart with that mean remark.. how could you? And I see two Trekkie girls right here !! How can I assume otherwise ?

    I think Megha has decided to call it quits on this comment trail… This is becomming too Kirk-like boisterous for her refined-Picardish sensitivities… ;)

  19. Megha

    [oxy_moron] Thenkoo thenkoo *bows to the applause*

    [Vignesh] Didn’t quite give up yet. Picard makes being bald and middle-aged look like a darn good thing. And Kirk? He’s an overgrown frat boy. You couldn’t counter my Picard is a better actor statement so you try to teach me Klingon fundas eh? I shall not take the bait. You see, Picard fans are like Picard — calm and composed. And yes, refined too, thank you. And Kirk and his fans? A whole lot of noise and always itching for a fight :) Tsk tsk.

    And I get it now. You started this Trek discussion to find yourself a Trekkie girl through my blog. Shame on you! I shall not let you misuse my blog for your devious purposes so I shall stop this comment trail right now. That and the fact that the rest of my readers will beat me up :)

    [Hagrid] Ah, so you found a story that connects the genes/jeans to Kilroy! How very cool :) And thank you for dropping by on my blog!

    [Closet Claustrophobic] I am loving this whole girls ganging up against a Trekkie flirt thing ;) Makes me so very happy!

    [Sivani] As always, you are a awesome source of knowledge on pretty much everything! I am sure Asimov fans will be most happy! Is this one of his short stories? Or an excerpt?

  20. Rajesh J Advani

    Asimov! Man, he knew how to write!

    Thanks Sivani, for a story I’d never seen before :) As with a number of Asimov’s stories, with this one too, I had to read it twice to notice some of the irony :) {Ok, so it’s not the stories. I’m the one that’s dumb :P }
    I should really get myself his Complete Short Stories collection.

    Googling got me the title of the story – “The Message”. It was anthalogized in the collection titled Earth Is Room Enough. :) Just a little trivia for Asimov fans (or potential fans) :)

    PS: This post is turning out to be an information storehouse. :D

  21. Hawkeye

    Nice, very nice. Your blog just gets better and better. Very neat. I especially like the thingies on the side, the lil grey icons. You have a wonderful eye for detail. [Applauds]

  22. Abhi

    ‘Agnostic’ and ‘Nastik’ sound so similar, no? *angelic – or ‘main madeeraa nahee peetee jee’ look*

  23. Abhi

    Hi Megha,

    I guess this blog might give rise to ‘clones’. I already find myself writing mails and responding to my IM messages in your style (the way you write on your blog, though it can never match), and managed to get a few chuckles from my friends as well. I’m referring this blog to many friends and relatives with similar taste. Has anyone else also told you the same (the ‘writing style’ effect), or is it just me?

    Hope, it does not violate your copy-right notice, and you do not perform your bad voo-doo magic on me! :-)


  24. Megha Post author

    Hey Abhi,

    I hope you see this comment reply. I tried to send you an email to the yahoo address you used in your comment, but the mail is bouncing back. Drop me a line at and i’ll forward it to your right address, if that works? Thanks much!


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