We're Going to Hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line

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"We're Going to Hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line" is a popular song by Ulster songwriter Jimmy Kennedy, written whilst he was a Captain in the British Expeditionary Force during the early stages of the Second World War, with music by Michael Carr.[1] The Siegfried Line was a chain of fortifications along Germany's Western border, analogous to the Maginot Line in France. The song was used as a morale-booster during the war, particularly up to and during the Battle of France.[citation needed]

It began:

We're going to hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line.
Have you any dirty washing, mother dear?
We're gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line.
'Cause the washing day is here.

Leslie Sarony (1897-1985) and Leslie Holmes added some possibly unofficial lines. The Sarony and Holmes version put "Mother dear, I'm writing you from somewhere in France" at the start and then, after the main section, added four lines starting "Everybody's mucking in and doing their job".[2]

The Allies did not conquer the Siegfried Line until 1945. US Army Signal Corps Photo.


A mocking parody was written shortly after the Battle of France by a German songwriter, with translated lines that include:[3]

Yeah, my boy, you thought it would be so easy
At the great Washing Day on the German Rhine.
Oh, and you really filled your trousers, didn't you?
And when the German Washing Day is over,
Man, you won't need any more washing.


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