Colonel Bogey March

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"Colonel Bogey March"
Written 1914
Genre March
Composer(s) F. J. Ricketts

The “Colonel Bogey March” is a popular march that was composed in 1914 by Lieutenant F. J. Ricketts (1881–1945) (pen name Kenneth J. Alford), a British Army bandmaster who later became the 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, British Army bandmaster F. J. Ricketts published "Colonel Bogey" and his other compositions under the pseudonym Kenneth Alford.[1] Supposedly, the tune was inspired by a military man and golfer who whistled a characteristic two-note phrase (a descending minor third interval About this sound Play ) instead of shouting "Fore!" It is this descending interval that begins each line of the melody. The name "Colonel Bogey" began in the later 19th century as the imaginary "standard opponent" of the Colonel Bogey scoring system,[2] and by Edwardian times the Colonel had been adopted by the golfing world as the presiding spirit of the course.[3] Edwardian golfers on both sides of the Atlantic often played matches against "Colonel Bogey".[4] Bogey is now a golfing term meaning "one over par".


The sheet music was a million-seller, and the march was recorded many times. At the start of World War II, "Colonel Bogey" became part of the British way of life when the tune was set to a popular song: "Hitler Has Only Got One Ball" (originally "Goering Has Only Got One Ball" after the Luftwaffe leader suffered a grievous groin injury, but later reworded to suit the popular taste[citation needed]), with the tune becoming an unofficial national anthem to rudeness.[5] "Colonel Bogey" was used as a march-past by the 10th and 50th Battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force,[6] the latter perpetuated today by The King's Own Calgary Regiment (RCAC) of the Canadian Forces, who claim "Colonel Bogey" as their authorised march-past in quick time.

The Colonel Bogey March melody was used for a song of The Women's Army Corps, a branch of the U.S. Army from 1943 until its absorption into the regular Army in 1978. The lyrics written by Major Dorothy E. Nielsen (USAR) were this: "Duty is calling you and me, we have a date with destiny, ready, the WACs are ready, their pulse is steady a world to set free. Service, we're in it heart and soul, victory is our only goal, we love our country's honor and we'll defend it against any foe."[7]

In 1951, during the first computer conference held in Australia, this song was the first music played by a computer,[8] by CSIRAC, a computer developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

The march has been used in German commercials for Underberg digestif bitter since the 1970s,[9] and has become a classic jingle there.[10]

The tune has been used in more than forty films, including The Love Race (1931), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Mouse That Roared (1959), The Parent Trap (1961), and The Breakfast Club (1985).[11] Since the tune was quickly turned into songs with rude lyrics, past a certain date one could not say with certainty whether a film was only referencing the original march or a more bawdy version with lyrics.

Another parody of the Colonel Bogey March is "Comet", a humorous song about the ill effects of consuming the cleaning product of the same name. [12] In The Simpsons episode "Stark Raving Dad", Bart sings a tune reminiscent of the Comet tune with similar lyrics, "Lisa, her teeth are big and green. Lisa, she smells like gasoline. Lisa, da da da Disa. She is my sister, her birthday, I missed-a."

In the opening scene and throughout The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode "I Know Why The Caged Bird Screams", Carlton and company sings the tune with alternative lyrics referring to the school mascot, "Peacocks! We're marching down the field. Peacocks! And we refuse to yield! No one's tougher, 'Cause we are rougher! We are the Peacocks of ULA!" The song and "march" is called the "Peacock Strut" throughout the episode.

The melody was used in a scene in the film Spaceballs as small "Dinks" walk the desert singing the tune with only the word, "Dink" by themselves and again with the protagonists.

The Bridge on the River Kwai[edit]

English composer Malcolm Arnold added a counter-march, which he titled "The River Kwai March," for the 1957 dramatic film The Bridge on the River Kwai, set during World War II. The two marches were recorded together by Mitch Miller as "March from the River Kwai – Colonel Bogey". Consequently, the "Colonel Bogey March" is often miscredited as "River Kwai March". While Arnold did use "Colonel Bogey" in his score for the film, it was only the first theme and a bit of the second theme of "Colonel Bogey", whistled unaccompanied by the British prisoners several times as they marched into the prison camp. Since the film depicted prisoners of war held under inhumane conditions by the Japanese, Canadian officials were embarrassed in May 1980, when a military band played "Colonel Bogey" during a visit to Ottawa by Japanese prime minister Masayoshi Ōhira.[13]


  1. ^ Gene Phillips (2006). "Beyond the Epic: The Life and Films of David Lean". p.306. University Press of Kentucky.
  2. ^ The Royal Cornwall Gazette of 10 March 1892 reports the results of the Royal Cornwall Golf Club Ladies vs "Colonel" Bogey
  3. ^ Many references to the Colonel in the press include a letter from a "golf widow" to The Times of 3 June 1914.
  4. ^ Toronto; Globe 25 October 1904 p. 10.
  5. ^ "Minor British Institutions: Colonel Bogey". The Independent. Retrieved 4 December 2012
  6. ^ Pegler, Martin, Soldiers' Songs and Slang of the Great War, Osprey Publishing, 2014, ISBN 9781427804150, page 242.
  7. ^ "Duty – Army WAC Song", Women's Army Corps Veterans' Association website. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  8. ^ "CSIRAC – Australia's first computer - CSIROpedia". CSIROpedia. 2014-01-24. Retrieved 2016-11-23. 
  9. ^ Christoph Schulte (2 March 2011). "Underberg: Eine Portion Wohlbefinden". Falstaff Magazin – Weine, Restaurants. 
  10. ^ "Rheinberg: Underberg-Marsch nun als Weihnachts-Jingle". RP Online. 
  11. ^ "Kenneth Alford". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 28 August 2015. 
  12. ^ MacDonald, Ann-Marie (2003). The Way the Crow Flies. HarperCollins. p. 97. ISBN 0-06-058637-0. 
  13. ^ The Canadian Press (6 May 1980). "Our band hit sour note for Japan's prime minister". Montreal Gazette. p. 1. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 

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