Mademoiselle from Armentières

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"Mademoiselle from Armentières" was a song that was sung during World War I. It is also known by its ersatz French line, Hinky Dinky Parlez-vous (variant: Parley voo). It was considered a risque song, and when sung on the radio and TV, as in The Waltons, typically only the first verse was sung. The lyrics on which this opinion is based are recorded in the Gordon "Inferno" Collection.

It is also the third part (the first two being "Has Anyone Seen the Colonel?" and "It's a Long Way to Tipperary") of the regimental march of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

The tune of the song was believed to be popular in the French army in the 1830s, and the original words told of the encounter of an inn-keeper's daughter, named Mademoiselle de Bar le Luc, with two German officers. During the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, the tune was resurrected, and again in 1914 when the Old Contemptibles got to know of it.

Mademoiselle from Armentières was also the name of a 1926 British film directed by Maurice Elvey and starring Estelle Brody.

During World War II the comic duo Flanagan and Allen had a hit with Mademoiselle from Armentières [A. K. A. "If a grey-haired lady says 'How's yer father?'"] (1940), with other music and lyrics written by Ted Waite, referring to the original song.

"Three German Officers Crossed the Rhine" is a song with much more ribald set of lyrics, but sung to the same tune. It was originally sung in the trenches during the First World War.[1]


There are a couple of claims to having written the lyrics for this song: E.g., Edward Rowland and a Canadian composer, Gitz Rice, is one pair; Harry Carlton and Joe Tunbridge is another. Lastly, many also refer to the famous British songwriter Harry Wincott.

The song was first recorded in 1915 by Jack Charman.

Television References[edit]

On I Love Lucy, with Fred Mertz a veteran of the First World War, the song is referenced several times including the episodes entitled Equal Rights and The Passports.

In episode 113 of The Golden Girls, entitled "Ebb Tide," Sophia sings a variation of the song with a group of guests, to whom she is renting rooms while Blanche and Dorothy are out of town.

"The first Marine, he found the bean, parlez-vous.
The second Marine, he cooked the bean, parlez-vous.
The third Marine, he ate the bean and blew apart the submarine.
Inky dinky parlez-vous."

The song is sung at the very end of the serial Parade's End.

See also[edit]

Wally Bastian


  1. ^ The First World War Poetry Digital Archive – Three German Officers crossed the Rhine

External links[edit]