Ten German Bombers

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"Ten German Bombers" is a patriotic children's song, originally sung by British schoolchildren during World War II but controversially adopted in recent years by English football fans at matches against Germany.[1] The song uses the same tune and verse pattern as "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain". The verse pattern also follows the format of the song "Ten Green Bottles", of which it is effectively a derived variant:

There were ten German bombers in the air,
There were ten German bombers in the air,
There were ten German bombers, Ten German bombers,
Ten German bombers in the air.
And the RAF from England shot one down,
And the RAF from England shot one down,
And the RAF from England, RAF from England,
The RAF from England shot one down.

These verses are then repeated with one more bomber being shot down each time, the tenth verse becoming "There was one" and "shot it down", until there are none left. The final (eleventh and twelfth) verses of the song are:

There were NO German bombers in the air,
There were NO German bombers in the air,
There were NO German bombers, NO German bombers,
NO German bombers in the air.
'Cos the RAF from England shot them down,
'Cos the RAF from England shot them down,
'Cos the RAF from England, RAF from England,
'The RAF from England shot them down.[2]

In football[edit]

Since the early 1990s the song has been sung by English football fans at some matches against the Germany national football team. It is typically accompanied by horizontally outstretched arms and a gentle swaying motion, as if to mimic an aircraft in flight, and on some occasions the word "air" is replaced with "war".

Such vocal behaviour was eventually deemed to be racially offensive by the Football Association, and the former English manager Sven-Göran Eriksson asked fans to refrain from it at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany,[3] a plea echoed by Greater Manchester Police and other authorities.[4] Television commercials starring David Beckham, Michael Owen, and Wayne Rooney requesting the same were also planned.[5] Similar issues attended the football song "Two World Wars and One World Cup".

These moves were criticized by some elements of the British press. Tony Parsons, writing in The Daily Mirror, stated in December 2005 that:

"Less than a lifetime ago the Germans inflicted untold misery on the world. If English football fans choose to deal with that a mere 60 years later by holding their arms out and pretending to be Lancaster bombers [sic], I would suggest that the Germans are getting off quite lightly."[5]

German fans in 2006, exhilarated by their team's three previous victories in the World Cup, adopted rival songs. E.g. supporters of both teams staged impromptu chanting competitions in the center of Cologne.[6] Elsewhere the answer from German fans at football matches was often the Nazi song Bomben auf Engeland (“Bombs to England"). The well known and often varied chant "We're Heading For Berlin Without England" ("Ohne England fahr wir nach Berlin") uses the melody of "Yellow submarine". [7]

During the 2006 World Cup the anti-German German musician Torsun (half of the group Egotronic) recorded a techno cover of the song. The song and its accompanying YouTube video (featuring footage of German planes being shot down, the Wembley goal, a burning German flag, etc.) attracted media attention in Germany, as well as from the British tabloid News of the World. The song was eventually included in the World Cup themed compilation Weltmeister Hits 2006.[8][9][10]

Alternatives[edit]

There are songs that use the same tune with different words. For example, teams playing against Welsh teams use the words "10 sheep shaggers" and "And the farmers of England shot one down". It has also been sung as "10 northern monkeys" against teams in the North. Northern Ireland supporters also sing the song replacing England with Ulster, and this song is usually followed by the "The Dam Busters March".[citation needed]

Fans of Rangers F.C also regularly sing "Ten German Bombers", replacing the word "England" with "Britain".[citation needed]

The German propaganda provided "Bomben auf Engeland" (Bombs on Eng(e)land (sic!)), lyrics Wilhelm Stöppler, melody by Norbert Schultze for a 1940 movie called Feuertaufe (Baptism by fire). It was used as well in wartime weekly news reels.[11]


See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Don't mention the war! | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. 10 December 2005. Retrieved 31 December 2010. 
  2. ^ The Best England Football Chants Ever - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 31 December 2010. 
  3. ^ O'Neill, Sean. "England's travelling supporters are told: mention the war at your own peril" in The Times Online.
  4. ^ "Fans told: Don't mention the War!". Manchester Evening News. 15 February 2006. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Forget the War? It's far too soon". Tony Parsons in the Daily Mirror. 12 December 2005. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  6. ^ ""There Were 10 German Bombers in the Air": German Fans Trying to Rival English Chanting - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International". Spiegel.de. Retrieved 31 December 2010. 
  7. ^ anti Dutch variant, see 1:06
  8. ^ "Ballermann 6 Balneario Präs.Weltmeister Hits 2006: Various: Amazon.de: Musik". Amazon.de. 9 September 2009. Retrieved 31 December 2010. 
  9. ^ taz, die tageszeitung (23 December 2010). "Mit Nazi-Bombern ins Herz der Bestie". taz.de. Retrieved 31 December 2010. 
  10. ^ "Fußball-WM: Streit um zehn deutsche Bomber – laut.de – News". Laut.de. 13 February 2006. Retrieved 31 December 2010. 
  11. ^ Der Bombenkrieg 1939-1945 Rolf-Dieter Müller, Johannes Eglau Ch. Links Verlag, 2004

External links[edit]