Colonel Bogey March

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{film, series, show}
{language, word, form}
{war, force, army}
{black, white, people}
{service, military, aircraft}
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{household, population, female}

The "Colonel Bogey March" is a popular march that was written in 1914 by Lieutenant F. J. Ricketts (1881–1945), a British military bandmaster who was director of music for the Royal Marines at Plymouth. Since at that time service personnel were not encouraged to have professional lives outside the armed forces, Ricketts published "Colonel Bogey" and his other compositions under the pseudonym Kenneth Alford. Supposedly, the tune was inspired by a military man and golfer who whistled a characteristic two-note phrase (a descending minor third interval) instead of shouting "Fore!". It is this descending interval which begins each line of the melody. Bogey is a golfing term meaning one over par. Edwardian golfers in North America often played matches against "Colonel Bogey".[1]

The sheet music was a million-seller, and the march was recorded many times. "Colonel Bogey" is the authorized march of The King's Own Calgary Regiment (RCAC) of the Canadian Forces. Many humorous or satirical verses have been sung to this tune; some of them vulgar. The English quickly established a simple insulting use for the tune, where the first two syllables were used for a variety of rude expressions, e.g. "Bollocks", then followed by "...and the same to you." and perhaps even more commonly "Bullshit, that's all the band can play, Bullshit, they play it night and day".[2] The best known, which originated in England at the outset of World War II, goes by the title "Hitler Has Only Got One Ball". A later parody, based on a 1960s television commercial which used the melody, sung by schoolchildren in the United States, is called "Comet", and deals with the effects of consuming a popular brand of household cleanser.


The Bridge on the River Kwai

The English composer Malcolm Arnold added a counter-march for use in the 1957 dramatic film The Bridge on the River Kwai, which was set during World War II. Although the lyrics were not used in the film, British audiences of the time fully understood the subtextual humour of "Hitler Has Only Got One Ball" being sung by prisoners of war. Because the tune is so identified with the film, many people now incorrectly refer to the "Colonel Bogey March" as "The River Kwai March". In fact, Arnold used this name for a completely different march that he wrote for the film. Because the film concerned prisoners of war being held under inhumane conditions by the Japanese, there was a minor diplomatic flap in May 1980 when the "Colonel Bogey March" was played during a visit to Canada by Japanese prime minister Masayoshi Ōhira.[3]

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