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Subject: ARCHIVE: November 24, 1962 ~James Kilroy, the originator of the ubiquitous 1940s expression and doodle "Kilroy Was Here", which became extremely popular with American servicemen of WWII, and whose identity was not widely known until after the war had ended, dies at 60. ...


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Date Posted: Saturday, November 24, 09:54:30am

Shipyard inspector at the Fore River Shipyard whose doodle
was believed the origin of the "Kilroy was here" expression. ...

James J. Kilroy
(September 26, 1902 November 24, 1962)


The Oxford English Dictionary says simply that Kilroy was "The name of a mythical person". However, a popular theory identifies James J. Kilroy, an American shipyard inspector, as the man behind the signature. The New York Times indicated J.J. Kilroy as the origin in 1946, based on the results of a contest conducted by the American Transit Association to establish the origin of the phenomenon. It noted that Kilroy had marked the ships as they were being built. Thus, the phrase would later be found chalked in places that no graffiti-artist could have reached (e.g. inside sealed hull spaces), which fed the mythical significance of the phrase. After all, if Kilroy could leave his mark there, who knew where else he could go? Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable notes this as a possible origin, but suggests that "the phrase grew by accident."

During World War II, Kilroy worked at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts, where he claimed to have used the phrase to mark rivets he had checked. The builders were paid by the number of rivets they put in. A riveter would make a chalk mark at the end of his shift to show where he had stopped and the next riveter had started. Dishonest riveters would erase the previous worker's mark and chalk a new mark farther back on the same seam, giving themselves credit for part of the previous riveter's work. Kilroy stopped this by writing "Kilroy was here" at each chalk mark. Ships were being sent out before they had been painted, and when sealed areas were opened for maintenance, sailors found his unexplained name. Thousands may have seen Kilroy's name on the outgoing ships and his apparent omnipresence created a legend. The phrase began to be regarded as proving that a ship had been checked well, and served as a kind of protective talisman.


...Later, soldiers began writing the phrase in newly captured areas or
landings, and then phrase it on a connotation of U.S. armed forces' protection.

James Kilroy was informed of this practice and began to scrawl "Kilroy was here" on his rounds and added the head peering over a wall. Reportedly left his mark on such famous Fore River vessels as the battleship "USS Massachusetts" (BB-59) (now berthed permanently as a museum ship at "Battleship Cove", Fall River, Massachusetts), the aircraft carrier, "USS Lexington" (CV-16), the heavy cruiser "USS Baltimore" (CA-68), as well as numerous troop carriers. Millions of service men saw the slogan on the outgoing ships and all they knew was that "Kilroy" had been there first. Service men began placing the graffiti wherever the United States Forces landed, claiming it was already there when they arrived. This was the origin reported by the "New York Times" in 1946, with the addition that Kilroy had marked the ships themselves as they were being built - so, at a later date, the phrase would be found chalked in places that no graffiti-artist could have got to, such as inside sealed hull spaces, which then fed the mythical significance of the phrase ("after all, if Kilroy could leave his mark there, who knew what else he could do?").

Decades later, a final tribute was made when the WWII Memorial was dedicated
in 2004, in Washington D.C. and a permanent etching was carved in the corner of the site.


After the war, James Kilroy served as a member of the Boston City Council and the Massachusetts House of
Representatives. He died on November 24, 1962 at the age of 60, and was buried at Central Cemetery in Halifax, MA.



Link
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_J._Kilroy
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10932011/james-joseph-Kilroy

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